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La Belle Cuisine
"Easy appetizers can reduce stress"
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA
Thursday December 04, 2003
By Marcelle Bienvenu
maxim for this holiday season is KEEP IT SIMPLE, REAL SIMPLE!
It's not that I'm
not in the holiday mood. It's just that I've decided not to
get into turmoil...
...Usually Rock doesn't offer much assistance in tree trimming, save from
getting the tree in the stand, but this year he's a bit enthusiastic, so much
so that he's the one who suggested to have a few people over to watch/help
Rather than have a big meal, we're going to serve a variety of hot and cold
appetizers that can be easily served on small glass plates. A hot coffee drink
can be offered with a very simple dessert -- cookies!
But before you kick back and experience a little less mayhem, you just need
get a bit organized and select recipes that won't take all day to prepare.
Invite guests to help you with last-minute kitchen duties such as warming
something in the oven or setting out the food. Here are a few items that
picked out for our get-together."
Blue Cheese Toast
Makes 4 appetizer portions
1/4 cup blue cheese, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 thin slices French bread
Combine the cheese, onions and black pepper and stir to make a
paste. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread slices. Toast under the broiler
for about three minutes, or until the cheese melts and is bubbly.
These are great as appetizers or to serve along with a meal.
Asparagus and Green Bean Tray
Makes about 12 appetizer servings
1 pound pencil-thin asparagus, trimmed
1 pounds tender green beans,
stem ends removed
3/4 cup sour cream
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blanch the vegetables in salted boiling water just until tender,
three minutes for the asparagus and two to four minutes for the beans.
Drain and cool in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and refrigerate until
Combine the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl
to blend. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Arrange the asparagus and beans on a decorative platter and serve
sauce in a small bowl.
Sausages with Aioli
Makes about 12 appetizer portions
3/4 cup good-quality mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 medium-size garlic cloves, pressed
2 to 3 pounds assorted cooked sausages,
such as smoked pork, Italian,
and fresh pork
Several sprigs of fresh oregano or rosemary
Thinly sliced Italian bread
Combine the mayonnaise, black pepper and garlic in a small bowl
and mix well. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
To serve, cut the sausages crosswise into bite-size pieces. Arrange
platter lined with the fresh oregano or rosemary.
with the aioli and
Mexican Coffee (non-alcoholic)
Makes about 5 cups
6 cups water
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup regular grind coffee
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 small tea bag chamomile tea
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat,
and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the coffee, chocolate, tea, cinnamon
cloves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered,
minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the
strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Serve warm.
Makes about 3 dozen
"Since this cookie recipe makes about three dozen, you can store
whatever is left over in an airtight container for later use."
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts), coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets.
the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and mix well. Sift together
the flour, soda and salt and add to the butter mixture. Add the vanilla
teaspoon hot water and mix. Add the pecans and mix again.
Drop by rounded
teaspoons onto the cookie sheets. Bake until golden
brown, about 12 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an
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