Thursday, January 6, 2011

An Appetizer Party: Hot Appetizers

In my true dedication to procrastination, I have delayed this post by nearly a week. It wasn't when we were preparing the appetizers that I thought "This a ridiculous number of different things to serve", it was when I had to go through and write up the recipes.

Without further delay, here is the thrilling next edition to "An Appetizer Party" the tale of New Years Eve 2010 chez Arsenault, in food.

In case you missed them, Catch the cold appetizers here.

Blue Cheese Bites

  1. 1 tube Pillsbury biscuit dough 
  2. 4 oz. blue cheese (we used Stilton)
  3. just under 1/2 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in the bottom of your approximately quiche-sized pan. Or rectangular pan. It's flexible. Release the biscuit dough from the tube, and cut the rounds into quarters. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese evenly over bottom of pan. Lay the dough on the cheese. They'll expand, so don't worry if there are a few empty spaces. Bake for 12-15 mins until biscuits are golden. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, and enjoy with sparking wine.

Mom's Marinara Sauce

This delicious marinara is used for both the olives and the meatballs. Leftovers can be reheated, thinned with milk, and served as an awesome tomato soup. 

  1. 106 oz. San Marzano canned roma tomatoes with basil (any brand will work, though note that the best way to get mediocre tomato sauce is to buy the cheapest canned tomatoes.)
  2. about 1/4 cup of butter
  3. 2 onions, diced
  4. 2 stalk of celery, diced
  5. 1 carrot, grated
  6. Salt and pepper

Put butter in a big pot, heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot, season with salt and pepper - no need to measure, just do what feels right. Sautee until soft. Add tomatoes, and puree. Reduce for 2-3 hours to enhance the flavour, if you have the time.

Best Meatballs Ever

  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1 lb ground pork
  3. 2 cups bread, cubed-no crust (baguette or rustic italian)
  4. 3/4 cup milk
  5. 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  6. freshly ground pepper to taste
  7. 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley - finely chopped
  8. 1/4 cup pine nuts - ground
  9. 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  10. zest of 1 lemon
  11. 1/3 cup grated pecorino or parmasan cheese
  12. 2 eggs - lightly beaten
  13. 1 ½ cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs
  14. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + extra if needed
  15. Marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk. In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the beef, pork, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, egg, cheese, salt & pepper. And Panko. Then remove most of the Panko and some of the parmesan cheese. Squeeze the milk from the bread and incorporate into the meat mixture.

Wet your hands a little (prevents sticking) and take around a heaping tablespoon of meat and form into a ball, then flatten down slightly so they wont roll around in the pan. Next coat them in the Panko and parmesan you removed and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over med heat and fry the patties until they're nice and brown. (note: you're not cooking them all the way through, just browning the outside.) Arrange them in a large casserole dish or roasting pan in one layer.

Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs evenly, adding a splash of olive oil over the top and place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. When they come out top with freshly grated parmasan or pecorino and some finely chopped parsley for garnish. Makes a ton of bite-sized meatballs.

Fried Olives

Posting this recipe makes me feel like an impostor, because I don't actually like olives, so I didn't taste it. I do have it on good authority that it is a delicious and unusual way to enjoy olives. Apparently the combination of sausage, olive, cheese, bread, and marinara is reminiscent of pizza. I think that's a good thing.


  1. Pitted, big, green olives
  2. An italian sausage
  3. about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  4. a splash of olive oil
  5. about 1 cup of flour
  6. 2 eggs, beaten
  7. about 2 cups of Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  8. A lot of oil for deep frying. We used peanut oil because we didn't have enough vegetable oil.

To prepare the stuffing, cut the italian sausage out of its casing and sauté to cook, breaking it up into small pieces of ground meat. When it is cooked, put it into a food processor with some parmesan and a bit of olive oil and puree into a paste. It should be about the consistency of paté, so add parmesan and olive oil slowly until you reach the desired consistency.

Using a pastry bag and tip, pipe the filling into the centre of the olive (we had to dig out cloves of garlic to do this, you may need to remove pimentos or seeds depending on the olives you buy). 

Once the olives are stuffed, bread them by coating in flour, then egg, then panko. If they're too dry for the flour to stick, you can brush them lightly with olive oil. They can be kept refrigerated in this state for a while (up to two weeks) if you want to get your prep work done in advance, and then you can fry them right before they will be served. We fried them later that day. 

Pour oil into a large pan (with deep-ish sides, the oil will be very hot) so that it is about 1cm deep.  Lower olives into the oil (I think we used tongs to do them one by one). Cook for about 2 minutes, turning halfway through. They should be golden brown when they're done. Remove to a paper-towel-covered plate and then serve in marinara sauce, though rumour has it that cocktail sauce works well too. Watch them disappear. 

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts


  1. 1lb of thick-cut bacon (smoky, not maple or honey, or any other strange flavour)
  2. About 40 large, whole water chestnuts 


Cut the strips of bacon in half. Wrap each water chestnut in half a strip of bacon, and skewer with a toothpick. These can be set aside overnight and cooked later.

Lay the skewers out on a baking tray, and cook at 350-400˚ for about 45 minutes, or whenever the bacon looks done. Serve immediately with some sort of dipping sauce. Cocktail sauce is delicious.

Chicken Skewers

Ingredients: for 10 skewers
  1. 3/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch pieces
  7. 6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  8. 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, stems removed (for easier skewering)

To prepare the marinade,  in a mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients. Stir in chicken and onion; allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Soak wooden skewers in water. On each skewer, thread a piece of chicken, onion, mushroom and another chicken piece. 

The original recipe gives these instructions for broiling: 
Place on a broiler rack. Broil 5 in. from the heat, turning and basting with marinade after 3 minutes. Continue broiling for another 3 minutes or until chicken is done. 

We grilled them on the barbecue instead.

Serve immediately. We served them with a spicy peanut sauce for dipping.

Stay tuned for the single-recipe finale: dessert. Hint: it's going to be adorable.

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