IF, like me, you don't choose to go out to celebrate on New Year's Eve and enjoy having friends over to help you usher in another year, here's a trio of sophisticated appetizers to offer and a delicious alcohol-free cocktail for designated drivers.
Celebrate safely, and best wishes for a healthy and happy 2013.
Add one ounce of vodka if you're not driving. Prepare the juices beforehand and chill them to ensure that the drink is very cold.
For each drink:
1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1 oz cranberry juice (I like to make it from frozen concentrate)
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
3 oz ice-cold ginger ale Ice
Halved orange slices for garnish
Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the first three ingredients. Shake, then add ginger ale. Stir gently to mix ingredients, then strain into a large martini glass.
Garnish the glass with an orange slice.
Artichoke Gorgonzola Gratin
This appetizer always meets with rave reviews; it's a bit on the salty side but absolutely delicious.
1 398-ml can artichoke hearts, patted dry and cut into quarters
150 grams thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half horizontally
½ cup whipping cream
¾ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup toasted pine nuts Baguette slices
Wrap a halved prosciutto slice around each artichoke quarter. Place in a single layer in a shallow nine-inch baking dish.
Pour the whipping cream evenly over top and sprinkle evenly with the Gorgonzola and Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling and sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven; sprinkle pine nuts over top and place a cocktail pick into each artichoke quarter.
Serve warm with sliced baguettes to soak up the creamy sauce. Makes approximately 20 appetizers.
Onion Cheese Puffs
You can make the cheese mixture and the toasted bread rounds ahead of time, then when guests arrive you just have to assemble the puffs and broil them.
½ small sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (preferably flat-leaf) Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
8 slices of firm-textured white bread (a bakery sandwich loaf is ideal)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix together the onion, mayonnaise, Parmesan and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Remove crusts from the bread and with a one-inch round cookie cutter or a liqueur glass cut four rounds from each slice of bread. Place the rounds on a cookie sheet and bake without turning until just golden, about 10 minutes.
Preheat broiler; spread about one teaspoon of the onion mixture on each toasted bread round and sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese over top. Brown under the broiler for one-two minutes; serve immediately.
Makes 32 appetizers.
Smoked Salmon Torte
Make this the night before; serve with assorted crackers and crispbreads. If you don't like caviar you can just sprinkle the top with chives.
2 250-gram packages cream cheese
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
250 grams smoked salmon, chopped
½ cup sour cream
One 2 oz. jar lumpfish caviar ¼ cup finely chopped chives
Line a six-inch round cake pan or baking dish with plastic wrap, letting some hang over the sides (if you slightly dampen the pan first the wrap will stay in place).
With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth; beat in lemon juice and zest, dill and black pepper until combined. Layer the cheese mixture and the smoked salmon in the pan, ending with a cream cheese layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.
Remove covering plastic wrap; invert the salmon-cheese torte onto a serving plate. Remove the plastic wrap; spread the sour cream evenly on the torte, then place spoonfuls of caviar on top of the sour cream and carefully spread it out evenly to cover top of torte. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Makes about 12 appetizer servings.
Angela Shellard has done informal catering for sports and business functions. Contact Angela at ashellard@ hotmail.ca.