’Tis the season to have company, which makes it time to dust off the tried-and-true recipes that are easy to prepare and sure to disappear. Just as a phrase gets to be a cliché because it embodies an instantly recognizable truth, a dish gets to be a standard because no matter how humble its origins or simple its preparation, guests eat it up! You’ll see it again and again: Wherever pigs in blankets are served — and they are served at some oh-so-fancy parties! — they always get snapped up.
Here are some of the simplest and tastiest stalwarts of the cocktail party scene. Thanks to Renée Sheade and Jean Weidner Goldstein for their specialties — and happy holiday entertaining to all our readers.
Renée Sheade’s Meatballs
Yield: About 70 meatballs
Start-to-finish: 20 minutes
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s tomato soup
1 small can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white vinegar
8 to 10 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (two large lemons)
2 1/2 pounds fully cooked frozen beef meatballs 5/8 ounce size (See notes.)
Combine the first six ingredients in a large saucepan, heat to the simmer and stir until well blended. Add the meatballs and heat through. If necessary, refrigerate to solidify fat. Remove it and reheat to serve.
Notes: Sheade uses Casa di Bertacchi Authentic Italian Style Beef Meatballs from Sam’s Club, $14.88 for a six-pound bag. (These do not produce any fat that needs to be skimmed.) There is a larger, one-ounce size that can be prepared this way as an entrée.
Jean Weidner Goldstein’s Winner Appetizer
Yield: 8 or more servings depending on size of salami
Start-to-finish: 30 to 45 minutes
Hebrew National or other Kosher salami
Crusty peasant bread
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thickly slice the salami. Score slices 1/4-inch deep in a basket weave pattern, taking care not to cut through. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve with bread chunks and sweet mustard.
Jean Weidner Goldstein’s Killer Tenderloin
1 whole beef tenderloin
1/2 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 bottle Bennett’s chili sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Tuck under the thin, tail-end of the tenderloin and place in roasting pan. Spread the chopped onion over the meat and top with the chili sauce. Bake for 45 minutes.
MORE EASY STREET
Caviar ’n’ chips … Combine a 1-ounce jar of salmon caviar with one pint of sour cream (reduced-fat is fine) and serve with potato chips. For fewer calories, substitute cottage cheese puréed in a food processor for the sour cream and serve with veggies.
Herbed pita toasts … Cut large pita breads into eight wedges, brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve with feta cheese drizzled with olive oil or with your favorite dip.
Cucumbers with smoked salmon … Cut cucumber rounds1/4-inch thick. Roll strips of smoked salmon about 1 1/2-inch wide by 4-inch long into cones. Open one end out to form a rosette, flatten slightly so it will sit on base and garnish with fresh dill.
Preppies … (so named because they are pink-and-green): Blanche broccoli flowerets about one minute until crisp tender, drain and refresh with cold water to stop cooking. Spread thin slices of Black Forest or Westphalian ham or prosciutto with whole-grain mustard. Wrap flowerets and chill one hour.
Buttered radishes … Combine a stick of butter, softened, with a scant tablespoon of anchovy paste, a small clove or garlic pressed or finely chopped and a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Serve in a crock surrounded by trimmed and crisped baby radishes (or regular ones, halved).
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