The Hungover Gourmet

 

Happy Halloween Appetizers

With the leaves turning various shades of red, gold and orange, the clock being set back, and a young man's fancy turning to Octoberfest (or at least Octoberfest beers), that means Halloween is right around the corner.

As you might imagine, All Hallow's Eve is a pretty big deal around these offices. It's the 12th anniversary of ER's debut and nobody likes dressing up better than this crew. Hell, Dante even declares the 31st a "work holiday," but that sort of falls on deaf ears being that it's a Saturday this year.

And as much as I dig the opportunity to don some makeup and act out some kind of outlandish fantasy character, the real thrill for the holiday is like any other -- it's time for another party.

Parties, in general, and Halloween parties specifically have always been favorites with the classic Dead Celebrities Party generally regarded as our finest hour. Then again, how do you top a night that ends with Dante sucking floor and singing a Cockney-tinged version of "My Way" while other revellers bellow "Hogan" outside a roommate's locked bedroom door. Ah yes, the sweet mix of youthful enthusiasm, sake, and well...I guess those are really the only elements you need.

This year's theme is Crime & Punishment as hosted by that swinging, shagadelic spy from the 60s, Austin Powers. I'm still pondering my choices, though I'm looking for a chef who mixed a little bit of patron with product.

Which brings us, incidentally, to this week's recipes. While there's nothing like a good feast to test the culinary skills, a snack and drink casual shindig always makes us break out our favorite snacks and appetizers. Here's five we feel will make the cut...


ONION AND RYE SNACK

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup mayo
1 loaf cocktail rye bread
Fresh-grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Mix onion and mayo, spread on a bread slice and top with a bit of cheese. Broil for a few minutes until the top is just browned. Serve hot. Makes about 25.

SAVORY CHICKEN BITES

8 oz. cream cheese softened
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. onion or garlic salt
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
1 can (10 oz.) chicken
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 oz. chopped pimento
2 (8 oz. cans) crescent rolls
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 tsp. sesame or poppy seed

Combine cream cheese, juice & seasonings. Mix until well blended. Stir in chicken, onion and pimento. Separate dough into 8 rectangles, firmly press perforations to seal. Spread each rectangle with cream cheese mixture, leaving 1/2" of dough on one long edge. Roll up beginning with other long edge. Brush with egg and sprinkle with some sesame seed. Cut each roll into 4 pieces. Place seam-side down on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

HANKY PANKYS

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. sausage
1 lb. Velveeta
1 tsp. oregano
dash of crushed red pepper
1 loaf of cocktail rye bread

Brown ground beef and sausage. Drain, then add Velveeta. Heat till Velveeta is melted. Add oregano and crushed red pepper to taste. Place about 1 tbsp. on each coktail slice. (The slices can be frozen at this point for future partydom.) Bake at 325 degrees on cokie sheet for about 25 minutes (the bread should be toasted!).

WARM ARTICHOKE SPINACH DIP

1 pkg. (10 oz.) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can (5-7 hearts) artichoke hearts, chopped, drained
1 red pepper, roasted and pureed
1/4 block sharp wite cheddar, grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. buttermilk ranch dressing

Mix ingredients together with mixer or hand blender. Spread evenly into an ungreased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until top is brown and a little bubbly. Great with Gaden Herb Triscuits or other thick crackers and raw veggies.

SINGIN' SHRIMP

This one comes courtesy of Emeril Live, and it's more for a small crowd. But, with a little work (along with a chafing dish and hot tray) you could make it a real crowd pleaser!

2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup minced onions
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
2 tsps. garlic, minced
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 lb. shrimp (Emeril used Rock Shrimp, but I went for a smaller
size in order to make more servings)
Splash of brandy
1/2 lb. small mushrooms, washed, dried and chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 can of puffy refrigerated rolls, like Pillsury Grands

Bake puffy roll things acording to the package directions. Break in half and set them aside. Melt butter in large saute pan. Add onions. Season with salt & pepper. Saute for about a minute. Add garlic & green onions, continue to saute for another minute. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to pan and saute for 2 mintes. Remove from heat and add brandy. Flame the brandy and shake the pan a couple times. Return the pan to heat, add mushrooms and cook 2 more minutes. Add cream and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook one minute. Season. Spoon mixture over rolls and garnish with parsley. Serve warm.



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