Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Better Connecticut

The Gourmet Observer appeared on "Better Connecticut" today, December 8th!  Thanks to WFSB, Channel 3 for this opportunity!  Check out the clip of my appearance here!

Here are the recipes I presented on air today, which are examples of some great hors d'oeuvres for your upcoming holiday parties.

Onion Canapes
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
3/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
French Baguette from grocery store bakery, sliced thinly (about 1/2 inch) on the diagonal
Chives, finely diced, for garnish (can use dried if desired)
Smoked Paprika for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toast one side of the baguette slices for about 3 minutes in oven on a large baking sheet. Combine first three ingredients. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the creamy mixture onto the non-toasted side of each baguette slice and place back on the baking sheet, creamy side up. Place canapes in oven for about 8-10 minutes, until the creamy mixture is slightly bubbly and toasted. Remove from oven and garnish with chives, serve immediately, or can be made up to an hour ahead (minus chives) and reheated for a few minutes in the oven before serving.

There are MANY variations you can make to this recipe based on the occasion and the amount of time you have. Instead of using a baguette, you can use a loaf of simple white sliced bread, cut with cookie cutters into whatever shape you like--simple round, Christmas trees, whatever! You can also use purchased brioche if you're really in a hurry, eliminating the time it takes to cut the bread and the first minutes of toasting. To spread a little holiday cheer, you can use the paprika along with the chives for garnish and you've got a Christmas-themed hors d'oeuvre. There are endless possibilities and this simple appetizer truly is a delicious crowd-pleaser.

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

Many folks love bacon-wrapped scallops or dates, but this is a little more economical as you can easily use frozen shrimp if desired, which will turn out much better than if you use frozen scallops. Additionally, the shrimp are marinated in chili sauce which really adds punch to this delicious combination. Here's the recipe:

1 lb. large shrimp (approximately 20 shrimp), raw, shelled, and deveined (you can use defrosted frozen shrimp or fresh shrimp)
1/2 jar chili sauce (approximately 6 oz.)
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced strips of center cut bacon cut in half width-wise (enough to wrap the number of shrimp you have, i.e. 10 strips for 20 shrimp)

Combine chili sauce and sliced garlic in medium bowl. Mix in shrimp and cover; marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 6 hours. When ready to assemble, preheat oven broiler, or set to 500 degrees. Fry bacon half-strips in skillet on stove over medium heat until just about half done. (Bacon should still be pliable.) Drain on a paper-towel lined plate and allow to cool. Wrap one half-strip around each piece of shrimp, taking care to keep some of the chili sauce on the shrimp but discarding the slices of garlic. Secure the bacon to the shrimp using the toothpicks, pushing all the way through so the ends of the toothpick are sticking out both sides of the shrimp wrap. Place each shrimp wrap on a broiler pan (which is a slotted upper pan placed over a deeper, solid lower panpanpan called a drip pan--you might consider wrapping tinfoil around the lower pan to expedite your cleanup!), pushing the toothpicks through the slots so the shrimp wraps stay upright. Cook under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes, until the shrimp become opaque and the bacon appears fully cooked with a little charring on the edges. (The charring adds a LOT of flavor.) Let sit for about 2 minutes (as the shrimp wraps will be VERY hot) and then serve on your favorite holiday platter.

This recipe is great because there's a LOT of flavor in one small package, and you can also assemble the shrimp wraps and place on the broil pan in advance, then pop the pan in the oven at the last minute as your guests arrive. Everyone loves the smell of cooked bacon and these Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp are sure to be a hit with everyone.