Good Taste: Extreme Makeover, Tacky Hors d’Oeuvres Transformed

 
 

Olives in Bacon

Rumaki is probably the most happily forgotten fifties appetizer: a scallop and a piece of chicken liver, wrapped in bacon. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to sell you on updating those. However, they are reminiscent of the next appetizer, which is also bacon-wrapped.

Ingredients:
1 package nitrite-free bacon (preferably applewood-smoked), cut in thirds
1 12-oz can of large black pitted olives
about 20 raisins and/or pieces of sliced blanched almonds
box of toothpicks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Drain and rinse the olives. Stuff each olive with one raisin and/or one piece of almond (depending on your affinity for those ingredients). Wrap each olive in one section of bacon, and secure it with a toothpick. Heat up a skillet and place the olives on their sides in the pan. Brown them on two sides.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then place a metal cooling rack on the cookie sheet. (If you don’t have all this, just use a casserole pan or a cookie sheet by itself). Transfer the appetizers to the cooling rack, and place the whole thing in the oven. The bacon-wrapped olives will continue to cook, and the grease will drip onto the tin foil, making for a healthier snack. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and let them cool a bit on the rack. Transfer to a platter.

Note: I updated this recipe by stuffing the olives. Spanish tapas often include olives stuffed with almonds or garlic cloves (hello!). I also used nitrite-free bacon (vegetarians, use bacon substitute and add a little oil to the skillet).

Pigs in a Blanket

I think this last appetizer is a bit of a guilty pleasure for most of us. Easily mocked, it’s also even more easy to binge out on them while avoiding conversations at awkward family gatherings. So let’s keep the good (savory sausage, tender pastry) and ditch the bad (nitrites, MSG, processed dough).

Ingredients:
Gourmet precooked sausages of your choice (I like the vegetarian line Field Roast, as well as Aidells and
Coleman Natural
2 containers crescent roll dough
Make your own whole wheat garlic rosemary dough — buy the less evil version at Trader Joe’s, or break down and go with the Poppin’ Fresh guy. You can’t be virtuous every single second of the day.
Mustard (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the sausages in half lengthways, and then crossways, in one-inch lengths.

Prepare the dough by unrolling it so that it’s flat. Brush the side facing you with a thin coat of mustard, if you like mustard. Otherwise, skip it.

Cut the dough in strips and wrap one around each piece of sausage. Place all wrapped sausages on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

I hope this roundup or recipes redux inspires you to have a hip, retro holiday cocktail party. Laura and I made and served these recipes, along with with Spinach Artichoke Dip with Hummus Surprise at our most recent poker night — another great reason to whip up sexy, witty finger food.

Candace is the co-editor of Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women (Seal Press, 2010), and Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On (Seal Press, 2009). She is currently working on a memoir-with-recipes for Seal Press called Licking the Spoon. Candace is also the features editor at Mothering magazine, mama of two, and enamorata of smarty-pants Laura, her live-in recipe tester. Follow Candace on Twitter @candacewalsh.

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