Today’s Recipes: Crab Napoleons, Mini Ceviche Appetizers, Potstickers with Blood Orange Ponzu Sauce, and Samosa Phyllo Triangles.
When I think of New Year’s Eve parties, I always seem to lean toward an old-fashioned cocktail party, with lots of food on a buffet, a self-serve bar, and champagne for toasting at midnight. My parents used to throw the best parties. Everyone would come over around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m., and enjoy snacks and drinks until the big countdown. As soon as the New Year dawned, my mother would serve a midnight supper. It was always fun and delicious. After hours of drinking and dancing, everyone was famished. We scarfed down the meal and then our friends would head home around 2:00 a.m. full and happy.
I love to throw parties, and they are often fairly casual. I would rather have everyone relaxed and comfortable. Making it a potluck helps keep your costs down and lets everyone bring a dish they enjoy making and eating. I usually give people some loose guidelines and then let them choose their favorites.
This year I thought I would give you a variety of fun appetizers to try out and see if you like them. There is something for everyone. Fairly healthy, they will be good for those watching their diets. And if you have vegetarians coming, there is something for them too.
Winter is Dungeness crab season in California and the Crab Napoleons celebrate this wonderful crustacean. Large and meaty, they are definitely the first choice for those of us who grew up on the West Coast. If you are making these other times of the year, you can substitute another type of crab or even canned crab if need be. Staying with the seafood theme, the fresh and bright Ceviche (seh-vee-chay) is a delightful change from the usual heavy winter foods. The recipe calls for tilapia, but you can use any firm white fish that you like and can find. Always go for the freshest available rather than staying true to the recipe. Make sure you use freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice – never the bottled versions which are heinous tasting!
Indian Samosas are usually fried in oil and can be heavy, but this version uses phyllo dough that you bake. They are much lighter, and depending on what filling you choose, can be vegetarian as the recipe is written or contain whatever additions you like. Seasoned with garam massala, a traditional Indian spice mix, you can serve them as is, or offer a chutney or raita as a dipping sauce. If you cannot find garam massala in your regular grocery store’s seasoning aisle, you can order it from Kalustyan’s, Penzey’s or WholeSpice.
And finally Asian potstickers, also call gyoza (gee-yoh-sah), are always a favorite. I love to make them with a combination of mild and hot pork sausage, but you can use ground chicken, turkey, duck, chopped shrimp, or even cubed tofu if you like. Wonton wrappers are a super easy way to make dumplings and are usually found in the produce section, in the refrigerated area. Having something with a little spice is always fun on a buffet. You can make two versions of the Ponzu dipping sauce if your friends prefer more heat. Having Sriracha or other hot sauce on the table will make even die-hard chili lovers happy.
Make sure you check the “Appetizer” section of The Heritage Cook for more menu ideas! Have a wonderful and safe New Year’s celebration!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are planning a party, make sure you have a good selection of foods for your guests to choose from. There should be some vegetarian options as well as items that those on a diet can enjoy without worry. Try to balance rich and decadent with light and fresh. And don’t forget that colors are important to the overall appeal of your buffet. Using bright fruits and vegetables as decoration is a great way to make your table stunning. Most important of all, have fun!
- 1/2 lb ground pork, dark chicken, or finely chopped shrimp
- 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp ketchup
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Assembly / Cooking
- 35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
- Water, for sealing wontons
- 3 to 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
- 1-1/3 cups chicken stock, divided
- Preheat oven to 200°F.
- Combine the filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush 2 of the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place rounded 1/2 tsp of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold over, seal edges, and shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is used.
- Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. When hot, brush with vegetable oil. Add 8 to 10 potstickers at a time to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, without touching. Once the 2 minutes are up, gently add 1/3 cup chicken stock to the pan, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove wontons to a heatproof platter and place in the warm oven. Clean the pan in between batches by pouring in water and allowing the pan to deglaze. Repeat until all the wontons are cooked. Serve immediately with Ponzu Sauce.
- Yield: 35 to 40 potstickers
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, cover, and chill to let flavors blend.
- 2 lb fresh tilapia fillets, or other firm white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice, or more if needed to cover fish
- Extra limes for garnish
- Combine all ingredients except lime juice in a non-reactive rectangular baking dish. Cover with lime juice, making sure all fish is submerged. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, portion ceviche into small cups or bowls, and place on a platter. Make sure you give your guests spoons so they can get every delicious drop!
- 1-1/2 lb Yukon Gold or boiling potatoes
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2-3/4 cups)
- 1 tsp garam masala, Indian spice blend
- 1 tsp cumin seeds or 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp coriander seeds or 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 12 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Indian chutney and/or raita, for accompaniment, optional
- Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Put in a medium saucepan with 1 tsp salt and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain in a colander.
- Cook onion, spices, and 3/4 tsp salt in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add potatoes and peas and cook, stirring, 3 minutes, then remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- Cover stack of phyllo sheets with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Keeping remaining phyllo covered and working quickly, place 1 sheet on work surface. Gently brush with some melted butter, and then lay a second sheet on top and brush with butter. Cut crosswise into 4 strips.
- Put 2 tbsp filling near one corner of 1 strip and fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip, maintaining triangle shape. Put triangle, seam side down, on baking sheet. Make 3 more triangles in same manner.
- Repeat with remaining phyllo and filling. Generously brush both sides of each samosa with butter and bake, turning samosas over halfway through and switching position of sheets, until golden and crisp all over, about 25 minutes total. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Yield: 2 dozen pieces
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (half of package)
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 green onions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 6 oz fresh crabmeat, picked over well, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, roughly chopped if desired
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry sheet into 12 (2-inch) circles with a cookie or biscuit cutter. Place the pastry circles onto a baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Split each pastry into 2 layers, making 24 pieces in all.
- Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the milk, horseradish, black pepper, half of the onions, and the crabmeat. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Spread the crabmeat mixture on 12 bottom pastry layers. Top with the remaining onions, almonds and top pastry layers. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve immediately.