Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Appy New Year!

My favorite New Year's tradition is one I'm pretty sure my grandma made up: eat a little dish of ice cream at midnight so the new year will be sweet. Ideally, it caps off an evening of doing something fun (like watching The Poseidon Adventure or leafing through some old cookbooks) rather than what I am usually doing around midnight (checking my email or grading those last few papers).

A lot of people insist on actually being social and having parties, and from what I understand, those parties involve a lot of appetizers. For all you social butterflies, today I have some appetizers and hors d'oeuvres from House & Garden's New Cook Book (1977):

I love the cover with all the food stacked on white pillars. The crown roast is the star, but it is oddly mirrored by the display of uncooked spaghetti on the pillar just below. There's also a roast with pineapple, a cooked lobster eyeing the bowl of rice, an eggplant leaning down to whisper something to the cauliflower, a layered fruit salad in a lidded bowl that reminds me of a terrarium, and a bowlful of iceberg lettuce topped with the requisite pink tomatoes, cucumber slices, and a heap of black olives.

As far as I can tell, the only theme is "Look! Here's some food on white pillars."

So what do the editors of House & Garden recommend as party nibbles?

Well, if you're STILL trying to get rid of that Christmas ham, they have a couple of ideas:

Mince it, mix it with butter, cracker crumbs, Swiss cheese, sour cream, caraway seeds, and eggs, bake that mixture, and serve it in little squares with cocktails or salads. Damn sat fat and let everyone worry about it in the new year!


Grind ham up, mix with toasted bread crumbs, Parmesan, eggs, onion, and parsley, mold into balls, and deep fry!

You know I would go with the latter because there are no caraway seeds (plus: deep frying!).

I'm a sucker for recipes that can double as craft projects, so you know I'm all in on this one:

Cheese Pineapple melds a crazy amount of cheese (Cheddar, Roquefort, cream, Swiss,  and Monterey jack) with a few seasonings, molds them into a pineapple shape, and covers the whole thing with paprika and a spoon-carved "pineapple skin" pattern. If that's not enough, it also calls for cutting the top off a fresh pineapple and inserting it into the top of the cheese ball to complete the illusion! I love the thought of spending an afternoon building this, but then I'd need guests to actually eat the thing.... 

A select few recipes are written in a cartoon format:

There isn't much that sounds less appealing to me than eating cold canned beets slathered in a mustard dressing, but the cartoon is ALMOST enough to make it seem appealing. I love that the marinating step is illustrated by a woman soaking in a tub, and that they even throw a horse in at the end since that image is always called up by the word "hors d'oeuvre" anyway. The cartoons are a fun way to present little recipes with a sense of humor.

Lastly, the recipe with the biggest gap between my hope upon seeing its title and disappointment at its actual ingredients:

I was so excited to see empanada, mainly because my city used to have a little vegan restaurant that served the best dessert empanadas ever. They were flaky and crisp on the outside and stuffed with whatever fruit was in season. My favorite was the berries and cream, filled with bright raspberries and a sweet cashew "cream." Those thoughts flooded my head when I saw "empanada," and the memory is probably all the sweeter because I know I can't have those treats anymore.

This empanada filling, though, is nothing like the version in my memory. Filled with raisins, onions, garlic, minced beef, and olives, this is the sweet/savory/briny combo that I'm sure appeals to some of you but leaves me whimpering and trying to get back into the safe space with my dessert empanadas.

No matter what your tastes may be, have a happy (or at least tolerable) new year!


  1. A dish of ice cream sounds just perfect to me, Poppy. I haven't had ice cream in soooooo long...Absolutely none of these appetizers do a thing for me. Actually, I'm not much of an appetizing loving kinda a person anyway. Perhaps growing up with appetizers such as these turned me off for ever, lol...I do like that cartoon though, lol...

    Thanks for sharing, Poppy. I'm not sure I''l make it til the ball drops but if I do, I think I'll have me a bowl of ice cream. Marion NEVER says no to ice cream!!!

    Wishing You a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year Poppy. It's good to be back:)

    1. Happy New Year to you, too! I never really got the point of appetizers. I'd rather just wait to have a good meal than fill up on little bits of nonsense just because they are available.

      I hope you got to enjoy some ice cream!