Take a look through magazines and on-line recipe sites and, if it’s hors d’oeuvre recipes you’re looking for, I think you’ll find a lot of fancy stuff that may have names like “kale toasts with scallop sushi and sea urchin foam.” And recipes for beautiful hors d’oeuvre that you admire but will probably never make and even if you do it won’t look like the photo.
Mine don’t anyway.
Besides, after years and years of observing folks at parties, I’ve realized that a majority of people seem to like the classics. The oldies but goodies. The easy stuff. The comforting kind of hors d’oeuvre. The ones that aren’t so gorgeous you’re afraid to eat them.
That taste terrific.
Like Franks-in-blankets and Spanakopitas.
And Stuffed Mushrooms.
Try these for your next party. They’re easy, they’re good, they won’t intimidate your guests and you can make them a day or so in advance.
14-16 large white mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces sweet Italian-style sausage meat, finely chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/4 cup vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and dry the mushrooms. Remove the stems, chop them, and set them aside. Brush the outside of the caps with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the scallions, garlic and chopped mushroom stems. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the meat is well browned. Add the bread crumbs and thyme and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Pour in the stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture inside the mushroom caps. Mix ingredients well and use the mixture to stuff each mushroom cap. Place the filled caps on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot and crispy.
We finished all the baked apples I made the other day. And not only did I miss having one for dessert last night, I missed the sugary floral fragrance of baking fruit.
Unfortunately I didn’t have an apple left.
But — pears do just as well.
Baked Stuffed Pears
6 firm pears
2/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons raisins or currants
1-1/2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup water
ice cream or sweetened mascarpone cheese, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel, halve and core the pears. Rub the surfaces with the cut side of the lemon. Place the halves in a baking dish, cut side up. In a small bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, butter, raisins, rum, vanilla and almond extracts and mix ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Place equal amounts of the stuffing into the core of each pear. Add the water to the dish. Cover and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover, baste 2-3 times and continue to bake for another 10 minutes, or until tender, basting occasionally. Serve plain or with ice cream or sweetened mascarpone cheese. Makes 6 servings.
On the first day of Hanukkah:
16 yellow bananas
10 golden pears
9 assorted apples
8 oranges and tangerines
6 ripe mangoes
4 quarts of strawberries
4 jewel-green kiwi
2 bunches of grapes
2 pecks of apples
1 large pineapple
is what I had in my house when the family came for the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah long weekend.
No partridge in a pear tree. But there was also a carton of kumquats for cooking not for eating out of hand.
Here’s what was left: 4 Cortland apples.
Here’s what I did with them: Brown Sugar and Tangerine Baked Apples.
Okay, I confess there was also one banana and a few grapes left.
Brown Sugar and Tangerine Baked Apples
4 large baking apples
half a lemon
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup tangerine juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the apples and remove the core with an apple corer or small knife, leaving about 1/2” of the core on the bottom. Peel the apples halfway down from the top and rub the peeled surfaces with the cut side of the lemon. Put the apples in a baking dish. Mix the raisins, cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stuff this mixture into the apple hollows. Dot the tops of the apples with the coconut oil. Pour the juice in the pan around the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings