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TIP OF THE DAY: Add Refreshment, Deduct Carbs With Cucumber Hors d’Oeuvres

When pulling together hors d’oeuvres for cocktails, it’s easy to reach for baguette slices or crackers and pile on a topping.

But here’s an alternative that doesn’t get soggy, has better nutrition and fewer carbs: the cucumber. You can place sliced meat and cheese, a shrimp with dill sauce, or other favorite directly atop a slice of cucumber instead of the bread or cracker. You can even make bite-size “cucumber sandwiches” using two slices of cucumber and a filling.

Or, you can “stuff” the cucumber for a more impressive presentation:


1. Peel and cut cucumbers into half-inch circles and carefully scoop out a well with a melon baller or other device.

2. Optionally, you can use a small cookie cutter to make scalloped/floral shapes, as in the photo (do this before you scoop out the well).

3. Then, fill the well with anything you like. Some of our favorites:


Cucumbers stuffed with salsa. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers | New York.

  • Caviar: Use any affordable caviar, but especially flavored capelin or whitefish caviar (ginger, truffle, saffron, wasabi, etc.). See the different types of caviar.
  • Cheese: Try blue cheese spread topped with a toasted pecan or walnut (recipe below), or flavored goat cheese (mix in dill or chopped olives), topped with a strip or square of smoked salmon.
  • Salad: Crab, egg, tuna or shrimp salad becomes special with a touch of curry or other exotic seasoning.
  • Salsa: Look for chipotle, corn and bean or other stand-out salsa flavor.

    The better quality the blue cheese and cream cheese, the better this tastes. We use organic cream cheese (less gumminess, more flavor) and Gorgonzola or Roquefort (check out our favorite blue cheeses).


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Base: cucumber slices, crackers or toasted baguette
  • Garnish: sliced figs, toasted pecans or walnuts

    1. COMBINE: In a medium bowl, mash softened cream cheese until softened. Mash in blue cheese.

    2. TASTE: Blue cheese is typically salty, but adjust with salt and pepper if needed. You can make this up to a week in advance. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Top cucumber slices with cheese spread. Since this is a thick mixture, you don’t need to create wells; but you can certainly do so if you like the aesthetic.

    4. GARNISH: Top with a thin slice of fig and/or a toasted nut.

    Find more of our favorite hors d’oeuvre recipes.



    RECIPE: Savory “Lollipops,” Food On A Stick

    Not another pig-in-a-blanket: Kobe beef hot
    dog lollipops. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.


    Today is National Lollipop Day. But lollipops are more than sugar-on-a-stick. There are also savory lollipops, popular as hors d’oeuvres at cocktail parties and snacks at kids’ parties.

    The difference between savory lollipops and other food-on-a-stick—such as corn dogs and kebabs—is the size: single bites, in the case of lollipops. Lollipops add a touch of whimsy, a new way to present the classics.

    Just in time for weekend fun, here are two recipes from Andrea Correale, owner and founder of Elegant Affairs Caterers, a company in metropolitan New York that is one of the leading Hamptons caterers and event planners (she has catered events for L.A. Reid, Mariah Carey, Russell Simmons and P. Diddy, among others).

    While the two recipes below require preparation, you can make simple variations without planning ahead.


    Just keep a package of six-inch bamboo skewers on hand. Then, if you need an hors d’oeuvre or kid treats in a hurry, you can look in the fridge and freezer and make lollipops from whatever you have: meatballs, chicken nuggets, hot dog and sausage chunks and cubes of cheese, with a dipping sauce.

    If you don’t have wheatgrass or other food to anchor the sticks, put them in a short jar, or lay them on a tray.


  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • Flour
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Dijon egg wash: 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 eggs
  • 6 top-quality hot dogs (if you can’t buy Kobe dogs, try Applegate Farms organic dogs)
  • Box of wheat grass for serving (here’s reusable artificial wheatgrass)

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Flour the puff pastry sheet and add Cheddar to one side of the sheet. Evenly distribute and flatten with your hands.

    2. Place one end of the pastry dough over cheese end and fold over. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough.

    3. Mix mustard and eggs and brush Dijon egg wash all over dough.

    3. Take hot dog, place at edge of dough. Take puff pastry and roll around hot dog. Use egg wash to adhere.

    4. Cut away the excess dough and pinch the ends together. Repeat with each hot dog.

    5. Place on a carving board and cut the ends off. Slice into 3/4″ thick pieces.

    6. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Insert a skewer into each piece and place in a wheatgrass-filled tray.



    You can also make these with tofu for vegetarian guests.

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 dash sesame oil

    Sesame Chicken Lollipops. You can substitute tofu. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs.

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 quart peanut oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • Long wooden skewers
  • Miso dipping sauce (recipe below)

    1. Sift flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Mix together soy sauce, water, vegetable oil and a pinch of sesame oil; stir into flour mixture until smooth. Fold in chicken pieces until coated with the batter, then cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

    2. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to a temperature of 375°F. Drop in the battered chicken pieces and fry until they turn golden brown and float to the top of the oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

    3. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to garnish. To serve, skewer chicken pieces using long wooden skewers. Lie on a platter with the dipping sauce, or stick into a 2-day-old loaf of round bread.



  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

    1. In a small bowl, whisk together miso, water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and salt.

    2. While whisking, gradually add peanut and sesame oil until you have a creamy dressing.

    3. Serve with White Sesame Chicken Lollipops.

    See the Elegant Affairs website for more delicious party ideas.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatoes With Flavored Sea Salt

    Here’s an easy hors d’oeuvre or snack that’s delicious and different: cherry tomatoes with a choice of flavored sea salts.

    Simply set out toothpicks and let family and guests enjoy a succulent cherry or grape tomato with a dip of flavorful salt.

    Choose salts with contrasting colors, flavors and textures (crunchier coarse salt versus fine grain). Here we’ve used:

  • Alaea, a red volcanic salt from Hawaii.
  • A homemade mixture of coarse sea salt and dried rosemary (3:2 proportion).
  • Saffron-accented sea salt—one of our favorite products, and a great hostess gift.
    There are many other wonderful choices, from pink Himalayan sea salt to crunchy smoked Maldon sea salt from England, which has unique, pyramid-shaped crystals.


    A martini of cherry tomatoes with three flavored salts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Check out the large variety of gourmet salts in our Salt Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Savory Verrines

    Yesterday we introduced dessert verrines, dishes layered in small glasses. They can be either sweet or savory; the goal is to create a visually-stunning and sophisticated small bite.

    Today, we take on savory verrines, popular as appetizers or cocktail food. You can also serve them as sides with a main course.

    Think of three to five foods you enjoy together, then layer them in a glass.

    We especially like to turn leftovers into savory verrines. They hardly seem like leftovers when they’re placed in such glamorous surroundings.


    Here’s a beginning list; you’ll no doubt have more to add.

  • Beef & Lamb: The best option is cooked ground meat (crumble leftover burgers) or tartare. If you can chop steaks or other cuts thinly enough to be easily chewed, go for it.
  • Cheese, Crumbled Or Grated: Blue cheese, Cheddar, goat cheese, any Italian grating cheese, anything that can be crumbled or grated

    How to get people to eat their veggies: top
    mashed cauliflower and curried carrots with
    Greek yogurt or sour cream. Verrine glass
    from Starfrit.


  • Custards: Make soft custard flavored with basil, dill, fennel or mixed herbs
  • Dairy (For Layers Or Topping): Crème fraîche, fromage blanc, fromage frais, Greek yogurt or sour cream, plain or flavored with herbs: basil, chives, dill, fennel, garlic or mixed herbs
  • Dried Fruit: Dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins or chopped larger fruits such as apricots and plums (fruits pair well with meat and poultry)

    One of our favorite combinations:
    Guacamole, sour cream and salmon mousse,
    topped with smoked salmon. Photo courtesy

  • Fresh Fruit: Apples, pears or stone fruits, raw, poached or sautéed
  • Fish & Seafood: Ceviche, salmon and smoked salmon, salmon or tuna tartare, shellfish, any sashimi ingredient (chopped)
  • Mousse: Fish, seafood, chicken liver
  • Soups: Instead of making custard (or in addition to it), you can create a layer from cream soup concentrate (we’ve used cream of asparagus, celery, mushroom and tomato soups—add some herbs for complexity)
  • Vegetable Salad: Chopped, sliced or shredded cucumbers, radishes and/or tomatoes, tossed in vinagrette (you can add lentils or grains, from couscous to quinoa
  • Vegetable Purée: Anything from broccoli, cauliflower and carrots to mashed sweet potatoes
  • Wild Card: Beets, beans and legumes (including chickpeas, edamame, lentils and peas), corn, chopped olives, flavored rice or other grain, minced jalapeño, salsa
    To top it off, you can use one or more garnishes:



  • Bread: Breadstick, crumbled rice crackers, croutons, panko, seasoned bread crumbs
  • Chopped Nuts: Almonds, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
  • Colorful Spices: Crushed red pepper, dill seed, flavored sea salt, fresh-cracked pepper, toasted sesame seeds, tricolor peppercorns, turmeric
  • Herbs: Basil, chives, dill, thyme; also, chopped scallions
  • Freeze-Dried Vegetables: Corn, edamame, peas, mixed veggies
  • Microgreens: Sprouts or other microgreens, celery leaves or fennel leaves
  • Pickled Vegetables: Baby beets, capers or caperberries, cucumbers, dilly beans, jalapeño, etc. (how to pickle)
  • Seafood: Caviar and roe, boiled shrimp, octopus tentacle, raw baby scallop
  • Seeds: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepita), poppy seeds, sunflower seeds or a mix
  • Spices: Cardamom, curry, dill seed, ginger, fennel seed, toasted/roasted garlic, sesame seed
  • Toppings: Crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, sour cream, savory whipped cream (add a bit of salt and pepper or some whiskey instead of sugar and vanilla)
  • Vertical: A vertical element adds even more panache: asparagus spear, breadstick, dilly bean, rosemary sprig; basil or spinach leaf, etc.

    If you read French, there’s a larger selection. Here’s what we found in English, but we expect to see more as publishers catch up with the trend”

  • Verrines: Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy [Kindle Edition]
  • Terrines and Verrines


    TIP OF THE DAY: For Fun & Excitement, Make Verrine Recipes

    Berries, pistachio sour cream and sweetened Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Wallmonkey.


    Looking for some appetizer or dessert excitement? Make verrines (vair-REEN, in French).

    Verre is the French word for glass; verrine, which means “protective glass,” is an assortment of ingredients layered “artfully” in a small glass.

    Verrines can be sweet or savory: The idea is to layer foods that provide delicious tastes in small bites.

    In addition to serving up a variety of tastes and textures, verrines should have splashes of color for eye appeal (grape tomatoes, raspberries, herbs).

    The idea has been around for a long time, but in recent years has come back to prominence in France.

    While specialty verrine glasses exist, you most likely have vessels at home that will do the job just fine: juice glasses, rocks glasses, shot glasses, even small wine goblets.


    And you don’t have to start big—you can hold off on the foie gras mousse, cubed Sauternes gelée (Sauternes [a sweet wine] in plain gelatin) and stewed rhubarb, topped with crème fraîche, candied apricots and chopped pistachios (we made this one last week).

    Instead, start by making the foods you serve every day more exciting by serving a verrine as a side. For example:

  • Breakfast: Layer scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, salsa, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and garnish with chives.
  • Appetizer: Layer sautéed mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, mashed potatoes or cauliflower, topped with a dab of sour cream and chopped parsley; or our favorite, tuna tartare, chopped tomatoes and guacamole, topped with a chopped mix of hard-cooked egg whites and cilantro.
  • Dessert: Layer fresh or poached fruit, rice pudding or custard and crumbled gingersnaps, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
    How many layers should you prepare? Three to six.



    This is hardly an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start for inspiration.

  • Cake & cookies: Crumbled biscotti, cookies and meringues; cubed cake
  • Chocolate: Shaved chocolate, mini morsels
  • Dried Fruit: Dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins or chopped larger fruits such as apricots and plums
  • Fresh Fruit: Bananas, berries, kiwi, melon or any of your favorites, chopped or puréed
  • Herbs: Lavender, lemon balm, mint
  • Liqueurs: Add liqueur first to the bottom of the glass, or sprinkle over the cake or cookie layer
  • Nuts: Chopped almonds, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
  • Pudding: Cannoli filling (sweetened ricotta), custard, crème caramel, mousse, panna cotta, rice pudding

    A classic verrine: different flavors of mousse,
    cookies and meringues. And the small size
    means portion control! Photo courtesy

  • Spices: Allspice, anise, cardamom, ginger, fennel seeds, nutmeg
  • Toppings: Crème fraîche, mascarpone, sweetened sour cream, vanilla or other flavored yogurt, whipped cream or flavored whipped cream
  • Wild Card: Chopped candy (brittle, chocolate bar, candied citrus peel, peppermint pattie—anything you like), cubed gelatin, jam or preserves

  • ALSO SEE: Savory verrines.


    If you read French, there’s a larger selection. Here’s what we found in English, but we expect to see more as publishers catch up with the trend:

  • Verrines: Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy [Kindle Edition]
  • Terrines and Verrines


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Tapenade

    Tapenade-topped crostini with a garnish of
    fresh tomato. Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.


    Back in our college days, a fashionable new restaurant opened in midtown Manhattan. It had a menu that was very exciting for the time.

    For starters, instead of serving butter or olive oil with the bread basket, there was an exotic dip: creamy and a bit salty with the flavor of seafood. The bread basket included delicious and sophisticated slices of Melba toast.

    We learned in short order that the toasts were called crostini (cruh-STEE-nee) and the dip was tapenade (TAH-pen-odd). They became our favorite hors d’oeuvre for years to come.

    In addition to helping us maintain our food-forward-thinker status, tapenade was ridiculously easy to make. Just open three cans or jars, place the contents in the food processor with some seasonings, and pulse.

    The recipe for crostini even easier. Both recipes follow.

    Delicious with wine, beer and cocktails, these recipes are a reason to invite friends and neighbors for a casual get-together. Or make them for Mother’s Day.



    You can substitute green olives for the black olives (some people use a half cup of each). If you don’t like anchovies, leave them out. If you don’t like anchovies and tuna, you can substitute artichoke hearts, cooked eggplant, mushrooms, red bell peppers or sundried tomatoes. This is an easy recipe to customize to your own preferences.

    If you want to spare the carbs (crostini), tapenade is also delicious with crudités.


  • 1 cup pitted black olives(1)
  • 4 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)(2)
  • 1 tuna (5 to 6 ounces), drained
  • 1 can (2 ounces) anchovies, drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    (1) Canned olives are famously bland. If you like a stronger olive flavor, buy better-quality olives in the jar or from an olive bar—although you may need an olive pitter to remove the pits.
    (2) We find that the oil in the drained tuna and anchovies is often sufficient. Process the mixture without the added olive oil; then decide if you need it. The added olive oil will give the tapenade a thinner consistency. If you’d like it thinner still, add more olive oil, bit by bit.

    Makes about 25 slices.


  • 1 baguette(1)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt/kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1. PREHEAT. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. SLICE. Cut thin baguette slices on the bias.
    3. COMBINE. Mix the oil and salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat one side of the bread slices with oil. Place on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Yield: about 24 slices. At the table, we serve a plate of crostini with a bowl of tapenade and let guests top their own crostini. For passed hors d’oeuvre or an hors d’oeuvre plate, serve them already topped.

    You can serve the crostini plain or with a garnish: chopped tomatoes, a strip of pimento, some fresh herbs or whatever you have on hand.

    (3) Because the bread is toasted, you can use day-old baguette. In fact, we typically make crostini whenever we have a leftover loaf.



    Pesto is typically based on basil although can use other ingredients, from greens (arugula, spinach) to sundried tomatoes. Tapenade is always based on olives. While pesto can be used as a dip, it is actually a sauce, used to coat other foods. Tapenade is a spread that can be used as a dip.

    Pesto, the Italian word for pounded, is an uncooked sauce made with fresh basil or other vegetable or fruit, plus olive oil and other ingredients. The sauce originated in Genoa, Italy. The classic pesto alla genovese is made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and/or pecorino cheese and garlic, plus salt. There are many variations on the original recipe; some use herbs or greens instead of basil (arugula, cilantro, spinach, e.g.) or focus on other ingredients (pumpkin, sweet red pepper).



    Bruschetta are larger than crostini, and grilled rather than oven-baked. Photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission.

    Tapenade is an olive-based spread, typically used as an hors d’œuvre, on crackers or bread. It can be used in recipes as well; for example, to stuff fish fillets. We serve it as a condiment with grilled fish, atop or to the side.

    Olives were among the first domesticated crops. Olive pastes and spreads—chopped or ground olives mixed with olive oil—have been served in the Mediterranean region for thousands of years. The “classic” tapenade recipe enjoyed today was invented less than 100 years ago by the chef of the Maison Dorée in Marseilles, who added anchovies and capers to a black olive spread. The word comes the from Provençal term for capers, tapéno. Some recipes add tuna as a variation.

    And yes, there are olive pestos, that add olives to a traditional pesto—hold the tuna, capers and anchovies!

    As for the tapenade: You can use it to top bruschetta or crostini.


    Both bruschetta and crostini are Italian recipes based on toasted bread. The difference is twofold: size and toasting method.

  • Crostini are small, thin slices cut from a narrow, crusty loaf like a baguette. The word means “little toasts.” They are usually seasoned with olive oil and salt and/or garlic prior to toasting. They can then be topped with a spread or with cheese, meat, seafood, vegetables—often in combination (see photo above).
  • Bruschetta are typically sliced from a wider crusty loaf and toasted over coals or a grill. The word comes from the Italian bruscare, which means “to roast over coals.” Like crostini, bruschetta can be topped with a wide range of items.
    Both will be a welcome addition to your culinary repertoire.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Some Pigs In Blankets


    It’s time to celebrate National Pigs In Blankets Day.

    Ask for some pigs in blankets in the U.K., and you’ll get a cocktail sausage wrapped in bacon (more like a pig in a pig, we think).

    At IHOP, the International House Of Pancakes, you can chow down on pork sausage links rolled in a pancake “blankets.”

    But across the U.S., what caterers declare to be the most popular hors d’oeuvre is a cocktail frankfurter in a pastry blanket. And don’t forget the mustard.

    Culinary historians have tracked the first recipes for modern pigs in blankets—small cocktail franks baked in flaky crust—to 1950. According to, these pastry-wrapped piggies are likely direct descendants of Victorian-era canapés.

    The earliest recipe found in American cookbooks that was called “pigs in blankets” was published in the 1930. But there was no frankfurter or other sausage: it comprised oysters wrapped with bacon.

    You know which little piggie recipe won out. So head to the market, grab some cocktail franks and a roll of croissant dough, and join the Neelys in the video, as they demonstrate how easy it is to make pigs in blankets.

    We highly recommend Dijon mustard (check out the different types of mustard).

    While pigs in blankets are classic cocktail fare, we find them even more delicious with beer. Enjoy!




    PRODUCT: Triscuits With Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil

    Crunchy and good for you. Photo and recipes courtesy Nabisco.


    Unlike many products we enjoyed as a kid,* Triscuits still taste as good to us as ever. The brand has just launched its first new Triscuit cracker flavor in five years: the Mediterranean-inspired Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil Triscuit. The classic, wheaty Triscuit flavor is amply dressed with the taste of fresh dill (we wish there were a pinch less sea salt, but we rarely salt our foods).

    Triscuits are 100% whole grain and a good source of fiber. A “dill-licious” snack out of the box, Triscuit Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil is also perfectly complemented by freshly grown cracker toppings like tomato and cucumber slices. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Here are two sophisticated snacks/hors d’oeuvre, plus more recipes and wine pairings (including a free app).

    *Why don’t you still like foods you loved in earlier years? Your palate evolves, seeking more sophisticated flavors; and companies cut back on quality ingredients, so products don’t taste as good as they used to.



    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil Triscuit crackers
  • 2 thin cucumber slices
  • 1/2 ounce feta cheese, cut into 2 slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped roasted red peppers
  • 2 black olive slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Fresh dill


    1. Lay cucumber slices on Triscuits, followed by feta cheese and red pepper.

    2. Garnish with olive slices and lemon zest. Serve with Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine.



    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil Triscuit crackers
  • 1 tablespoon Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread
  • 1 ounce smoked salmon
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped red onions
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill

    1. Spread crackers with cream cheese. Layer with salmon.

    2. Top with remaining ingredients.

    3. Serve with Pinot Noir or other light-to-medium-bodied red wine.


    The latest Triscuit flavor. Photo courtesy Nabisco.



    Triscuit is a biscuit (cracker) form of shredded wheat. Shredded wheat cereal, made of boiled wheat, was invented by Henry Perky in 1890, as a palliative for his digestive problems. In 1892, he took his idea to a machinist friend, William H. Ford, in Watertown, New York. Together they developed the machine for making what Perky called “little whole wheat mattresses.” He established the Shredded Wheat Company of Niagara Falls, New York (acquired by the National Biscuit Company—now Nabisco—in 1928). A patent was granted in 1902. Commercial production began in 1903.

    In 1935, Nabisco began spraying the crackers with oil and adding salt, creating today’s delicious Original flavor profile. From 1984 through 2008, additional variations were created and the crackers were made crispier. Today the line includes Original; Reduced Fat; Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil; Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil; Fire Roasted Tomato; Garden Herb; Hint of Salt; Parmesan Garlic; Quattro Formaggio; Roasted Garlic; and Rosemary & Olive Oil.

    Find more of our favorite crackers.



    PRODUCT: Aunt Nellie’s Baby Beets

    We love Aunt Nellie’s beets: whole beets, sliced beets, pickled beets, Harvard beets. The company is the largest provider of jarred beets.

    And now, the brand has introduced Baby Whole Pickled Beets, sized just right for one bite. They’re available nationwide and a great boon to anyone who likes to make hors d’oeuvre and small bites.

  • Serve as a side dish straight from the jar.
  • Make easy appetizers. Skewer a baby beet with a mozzarella ball and a basil leaf, with a cube of cheese and a cornichon or olive, with a scallop or shrimp, or with tortellini (recipe below).
  • Toss into salads.
  • Garnish a martini.
  • Add to roasted vegetables, soups and other dishes.
    This recipe makes about 36 appetizers, 2 appetizers per serving.


    Baby beets make quick and easy appetizers. Photos courtesy Aunt Nelllie’s.




  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Baby Beets
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated tortellini, any variety
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto*
  • 2 tablespoons prepared vinaigrette
  • 2 medium bell peppers (any color or a combination), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, chives or thyme)
    *Thinly sliced strips of smoked ham or turkey may be substituted for prosciutto.


    Buy lots—you’ll love them!



    1. DRAIN beets well; discard liquid.

    2. COOK tortellini according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain again.

    3. CUT prosciutto into 1×3-inch strips. Wrap one strip prosciutto around tortellini; skewer with appetizer pick.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Brush lightly with vinaigrette. Add one piece of bell pepper and one baby beet to skewer. Repeat until all beets are used. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with herbs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Entertain With Tapas

    Entertain with tapas: Start with a good
    cookbook. Photo courtesy Knopf.


    Is there a tapas bar in your town? About 20 years ago, this style of eating from Spain—which consists of grazing on several smaller plates of food instead of an appetizer and a main course (like dim sum)—began to take hold in parts of the U.S.

    You can serve a multicourse dinner of small tapas plates. It’s the opposite of our recent tip on buffets, but is just as much fun.

    Spain is full of tapas bars, which feature a wide variety of hot and cold appetizers and snacks. From foods as basic as a bowl of mixed olives and a plate of cheese to fried baby squid, what was originally a menu of Spanish bar foods evolved into an entire meal.

    Mixed seafood; ragouts of meat, sausages and beans; colorful salads; tortillas (Spanish omelettes) with ham and peppers; banderillas, or Spanish skewers; and empanadas, savory filled pastries, are just a few items found at a typical tapas bar.


    But tapas aren’t limited to Spanish specialties. They can be Asian- or Greek-inspired, or gourmet dishes with foie gras and escargots. Goat cheese and arugula join Spanish Manchego cheese and olives. Pretty much any food you like can be served tapas style: a small portion on a small plate.

    Tapas are an exciting eating experience for people who like a variety of foods, but don’t want the temptation of a buffet meal.

    To get started, peruse a tapas cookbook:

  • Classic: Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain, by Penelope Casas
  • Modern: Tapas: A Taste Of Spain In America, by José Andrés and Richard Wolffe
  • Mediterranean: From Tapas to Meze: Small Plates from the Mediterranean, by Joanne Weir
  • Asian: Asian Tapas: Small Bites, Big Flavors, by Christophe Megel and Anton Kilayko

    The word “tapas” comes from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover.” Why a “cover”?

    According to the leading interpretation, a piece of bread would often be placed on top of a drink as a cover, to protect it from fruit flies. At some point the bread was covered with chorizo, ham or other food. Soon, drinkers would order a glass of sherry or wine specifically “with a cover.”



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