Everyday Gourmet (11/13/08)

Nov. 13, 2008

By Kim Dannies

Teasers for holiday appetites

The holidays are right around the corner, so it’s time to perfect a few tasty teasers. Instead of throwing a full-fledged party this year (or doing nothing at all) consider hosting what my Quebecois friend, Jenn, calls “Cinq à Sept” (arrive at 5 p.m. and depart by 7). Stunning savories and a specialty drink are served, then guests move on to other engagements with appetites piqued. My hors d’oeuvres — retro with a twist — are hearty, healthy and taste heavenly. Go ahead, give it a whirl. Your friends will be pleased, the entertainment budget eased, and you can tease that you slaved all day.

Bubbling baby Reubens

You’ll need about 8 to 10 slices of Swiss cheese and 3 ounces of turkey pastrami. Lightly toast 8 slices of pumpernickel bread, crusts removed. Spread each slice of toast with whole grain Dijon mustard; cut each slice into quarters. Cut slices of Swiss cheese to match bread quarters and place one square on each quarter. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add 2 matching layers of turkey pastrami and one more square of Swiss cheese to each section. Slice each Reuben section in half again. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until cheese is bubbling, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, skewer 48 tiny gherkins (cornichons) with funky toothpicks. Pierce Reuben squares with the cornichons and plate. Makes 64.

Salmon studded deviled eggs

Prep a dozen hard-boiled eggs, preferably organic. (Tip: boil eggs with 1/3 cup salt and cool completely for easier peeling.) Gently combine 6 ounces of chopped smoked salmon (look for salmon “trim” in seafood freezer section); 1 tablespoon baby capers; 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill, 1/3 cup finely minced red onion; 1/3 cup (or less) mayonnaise; kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Split each cooked egg length-wise and remove yolks. Crumble six whole yolks into salmon mixture (reserve remaining yolks for doggies) and mix lightly in with a fork. Loosely dollop small portions into individual egg white halves. Garnish with a light sprinkle of paprika and a wisp of dill green, plate. Makes 24.

Peruvian purples with caviar

Cut 12 small Peruvian purple potatoes in half. Place potatoes in a wide sauté pan and cover with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt; don’t crowd potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 7 to 9 minutes until potatoes are just barely tender. Gently transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and cool. Whisk together 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream, mayo, or cream fraiche with some drained horseradish (to taste), and kosher salt and pepper. Chill. Arrange potatoes on a serving platter and spoon a tiny dollop of cream onto each potato. Top with a pinch of black caviar and then add a small “X” cross of fresh chive over each potato top. Makes 24.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.