By Barbara Beltrami
What ever happened to the hors d’oeuvres that used to be a staple at every cocktail party? Thank goodness, pigs in a blanket, regarded by professional caterers as the consistently most popular hors d’oeuvre at any party, have survived the hors d’oeuvres revolution.
But what about sweet and sour meatballs? Scallops wrapped in bacon? They’ve been usurped and driven out of town by the ubiquitous smoked salmon and caviar or fig and goat cheese canapés, bruschette and crostini, spring rolls and sun-dried tomatoes, quiches and crudites, lamb lollipops and wonton wrapped and phyllo-filled delicacies that practically come with pedigrees.
I’m as guilty as the next person in serving and scarfing down these precious concoctions. But if I put them on a tray next to their popular predecessors, guess which would be gobbled up first. If you’re reading this and you’re one of those people who still serve any of those once so popular and delicious dinner precursors, good for you! And please invite me to your next party because frankly, I’m getting tired of their replacements. And while you’re at it, don’t forget the sour cream and onion dip.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
YIELD: Makes 16 servings
INGREDIENTS: 2 pounds ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs
1 onion, minced
Half a green bell pepper, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1½ cups jellied cranberry sauce
12 ounces ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl combine the beef, bread crumbs, onion, green bell pepper, egg, salt and pepper and parsley; mix thoroughly. Roll mixture into balls about the size of a walnut and place in a large baking dish. Bake in 375 F oven for 25 minutes or until brown on top; turn meatballs and bake another 10 to 15 minutes to brown other side.
Meanwhile in a large pot combine the cranberry sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and hot red pepper flakes. Mix thoroughly; taste to adjust flavor and add more sugar, soy sauce or vinegar, if desired. Heat, stirring frequently, over medium low flame. Keep at a simmer. When meatballs are cooked, remove them from oven and gently add them along with any juice or fat in the pan to the sauce. Stir and continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve hot with pineapple chunks, rice, toasted Italian or French bread slices, sweet pickles or cheese cubes.
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Wasabi Mayonnaise
YIELD: Makes 24 pieces
½ cup teriyaki sauce
¹⁄₃ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
12 large sea scallops, rinsed, patted dry and halved horizontally
12 slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise
DIRECTIONS: Soak toothpicks in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F. In a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, ginger root, lemon juice and garlic. Carefully wrap bacon around perimeter of each scallop half; secure with toothpick. Remove crushed garlic from teriyaki mixture; brush each bacon-wrapped scallop with teriyaki mixture and place in foil-lined baking pan. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes until golden brown on top side; turn and bake another 4 to 5 minutes until second side is golden brown. Serve hot with wasabi mayonnaise.
Wasabi Mayonnaise: Whisk together one cup good-quality mayonnaise, one tablespoon soy sauce, two teaspoons sugar, two teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, one or two teaspoons wasabi paste (depending on how hot you like it). Serve in small bowl.
YIELD: Makes a one-pound ball
8 ounces cream cheese
½ pound blue, Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
¼ pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
DIRECTIONS: Place all cheeses in mixer bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add onion and Worcestershire sauce and beat well. Roll into ball, wrap and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. In small bowl, mix the nuts, parsley and black pepper. Spread on sheets of wax paper or on a large baking sheet. Roll cheese ball in nut and parsley mixture until well coated and nuts and parsley are all used up; press any straggling pieces into the ball. Cover again and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Serves with crackers.