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Unwrapping the menu

Welcoming holiday party guests with
a smorgasbord of small bites is the
simplest way to spread seasonal cheer.


By Phyllis Stein-Novack

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 13, 2012

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The holiday season is in full swing and some of you are planning an open house. Whether the party is during the afternoon or takes place at the cocktail hour, a few hints and easy recipes are in order to insure a relaxed and spirited time for all.


A roasted turkey breast and spiral ham can fill the center of the table along with rolls for those who want to make a sandwich.


I enjoy special treats that pop up at parties because I only serve them on special occasions. Guest enjoy them as well.


Thin slices of Nova Scotia salmon served on buttered rye or pumpernickel have been served at our house for many years. You also should offer a cheese platter with plain water crackers. I like serving an artisan Vermont cheddar, Brie, Roquefort or imported Gorgonzola and fontina from Italy. Decorate the platter with bunches of grapes and clementine segments.


I also prepare at least five pounds of shrimp, cool and peel them, place them in a pretty glass bowl and serve with cocktail sauce laced with horseradish.


“The Silver Palate Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, is one of my favorites and I look to it for recipe ideas. I’ve been making their Cheese Straws for years, which are popular with our guests. I also have included their recipe for Chocolate Truffles. They are so easy to make, kids will have fun joining in the preparation. Edward’s hands-down favorite are my Spinach Balls. They can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days. I like to serve them with a Mustard Dipping Sauce. In fact, I am bringing them to a holiday party tomorrow afternoon.


Cheese Straws


Ingredients:


1 pound of puff pastry

3/4 cup of grated Parmesan


Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Roll out the puff pastry dough into a 20-by-24-inch rectangle. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the dough and gently press the cheese into the dough with a rolling pin.


Fold the dough in half crosswise, roll out again to 20-by-24 inches and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.


Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into one-half-inch strips. Take each strip by its ends and twist until evenly corkscrewed. Lay the twists of dough on an ungreased baking sheet, arranged so that they are just touching each other.


Bake until the straws are crisp, puffed and brown, for about 15 minutes.


Let cool for five minutes, then cut apart with a sharp knife. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.


Makes about 20 straws.


Note from Phyllis: This recipe can be easily doubled.


Spinach Balls


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