Appetizers for New Year Party: Caramelized Walnut and Stilton “Brains” and Parmesan-stuffed Bacon-wrapped Dates

We’ve given up the russian tradition to celebrate New Year with a full-course dinner starting at midnight. Now our fancy dinner begins at a more appropriate hour, somewhere around 7PM, and later I serve little bites and nibbles. I thought to share some of these recipes with you.

These “flavor bombs” ideas are Bob Blumer’s. I tweaked the first recipe though, by caramelizing nuts with honey and spices, and used Stilton instead of Gorgonzola (I just have a very special relationship with Stilton, it’s called love). But, really, any blue cheese would work here.

I wish everyone the Happiest New Year!!!

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Goat Cheese Crostini with Blood Orange and Black Pepper Marmalade

I spotted this idea in Bon Appétit a couple of years ago and fell instantly in love. I’ve been making the marmalade regularly since then, as often as I lay my hands on organic blood oranges.

Adapted from Bon Appétit.

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Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Honey Jalapeño Mustard

As soon as I read the tantalizing description of these bites in the “Gourmet” I rushed into the kitchen to make them. And I am glad I did!

The recipe is adapted from Edward Lee

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Stuffed Baguette

A hollowed baguette obviously makes a perfect shell for any filling you are in the mood for. And once stuffed and properly chilled, it becomes a neat appetizer.

This particular one is filled with all my favorite things: goat cheese/cream cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives, spicy salami, crunchy bell pepper, and fresh herbs.

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September Daring Bakers’ challenge is up. This time it’s classic puff pastry and vols-au-vent – flaky tartlets that can be filled with at least a thousand possible sweet or savory fillings. Only, I act as usual. First, being overwhelmed with different ideas, I decide to wait until my mind is made up. Then, I wait for the weather to become a bit cooler. And finally, when the weather is as hot as never, and the due date is tomorrow, I roll up my sleeves and get to work proceeding with the simplest solution.

I made one sweet and another savory vols-au-vent.

  • Sweet: peppery ricotta/mascarpone mousse with Bartlett pears, sautéed in butter, honey, and vanilla
  • Savory: smoked salmon mascarpone mousse

Yep, mascarpone is everywhere. I was utilizing the freshly made cheese; it is only wonderful when super-fresh.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon who chose this French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the puff pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook “Baking with Julia” by Dorie Greenspan.

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Herb and Parmesan Bread Twists

Haven’t we all tried tasteless extra-chewy bread sticks in restaurants and at parties? I’ve had my share. Without false modesty, I can assure you these twists are better. And the difference is called forth by a generous amount (and I mean GENEROUS) of fresh herbs, garlic, parmesan, and good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

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