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The Suburbanite
  • Grace your appetizer buffet with easy flavors

  • Don’t cringe at the prospect of creating New Year’s Eve hors d’oeuvres. Our recipes are quick, easy and delicious.

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  • There’s a certain amount of dread accompanying a New Year’s Eve party. This is not your usual cheeseball and taco salad beer-a-thon. We save the year’s most formal party for last.
    There are cocktails, and real appetizers, defined as bite-sized morsels of delicious somethings you don’t have to dip or spread. They are the miracles of micro food engineering.
    The prep work on the appetizer buffet can be a killer. That is, unless your name is Michael Salomne. My second job in the Army was to work for him in the Fortress Monroe officers’ club. New Year’s was a formal dance with orchestra, two bars and a 50-foot table of appetizers. Mike was my boss, the chef of hors d’oeuvres. Our guests numbered 200.
    Mike’s appetizer notions were simple — contrasting flavors concentrated into never more than two bites. And he had to be realistic. Some of those fancy phyllo-sausage-cheese rollups could take all afternoon by themselves. Time never was on our side.
    I stole his recipe list. It recently resurfaced in a pile of dusty newspaper clippings in our attic. I’m passing six of them on in time to take the dread out of your big party. None of these takes more than a few minutes and minimum skills to accomplish.
    Mike’s recipes make 50 pieces each. You can easily cut them with no harm to the results.
    SPINACH BALLS
    2 10-ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed
    10 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
    2 cups fresh bread crumbs
    1/2 cup red onion, chopped
    4 eggs, beaten
    1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
    1/2 cup Parmigano-Reggiano shredded cheese
    1/4 cup provolone cheese, fine cubed
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, diced, or to taste
    1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional
    Chop the spinach in a food processor and squeeze in paper towels to remove water. Combine with remaining ingredients. Use an oiled melon baller to make 50 balls on rimmed, oiled, cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees to set cheese. Serve with toothpicks.
    CHEESE STEAK BRUSCHETTA
    24 ounces beef tenderloin, no visible fat
    2 tablespoons, olive oil
    10 ounces whipped cream cheese
    1/2 cup smoked cheddar cheese, grated
    1 tablespoon horseradish
    2 French bread baguettes, sliced on angle
    Make these ahead and bake at the last moment.
    Slice tenderloin very thin and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil and fry slices in batches so none overlap. Cook for a few seconds on each side until just browned. Transfer to a bowl.
    Combine cheeses and horseradish. Top baguette slices with beef folded to fit, then the cheese mixture. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese melts. Serve with garnish of chopped, pickled jalapeno peppers on the side.
    Page 2 of 2 - CHERRY CUCUMBERS
    8 English (thin) cucumbers
    50 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
    12 ounces Greek yogurt
    6 ounces soft cheese (Neufchatel)
    1/2 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbles
    Fresh parsley, chopped
     Chill and slice cucumbers with alternating strips of peel. Cut into 1-inch rounds. Combine yogurt, soft cheese and feta. Place a dollop of cheese mixture on each cucumber slice and top with cherry tomato half and parsley. Serve with toothpicks.
    PROSCUITTO MELON
    1 muskmelon, honeydew, etc.
    10 slices Proscuitto ham, thinly sliced
    Seed melon and slice into 50 finger-length pieces. Cut Proscuitto into 50 lengths and wrap melon. Serve cold with toothpicks.
    STUFFED MUSHROOMS
    50 medium button mushrooms
    2 cup bread crumbs
    1 cup shredded, smoked Swiss cheese, fine dice
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
    1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
    1/2 stick butter, melted
    Clean mushrooms. Remove stems and chop. Mix with  bread crumbs, cheeses, 2 tablespoons butter and parsley. Stuff each cap with mixture. Melt remaining butter and brush each mushroom. Bake in a buttered dish for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot in chafing dish.
    SALMON TAPENADE
    1 1/2 pounds very fresh salmon fillet, cut very thin
    2 cups marinated Greek olives
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
     For tapenade, process pitted olives and olive oil to a fine dice. Cut salmon fillets into 4-inch strips. Spread tapenade on strips and roll up, securing with skewers. Serve chilled on ice.