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Hors d’oeuvres

Appetizers, Celebrations, Christmas, Hors d'oeuvres, Local, Louisiana, New Year's, Seafood, Southern

Marinated seafood: West Indies salad and pickled shrimp perfect for parties

December 28, 2015

The best party dishes are ones that fit two criteria: you can make them ahead and serve them at room temperature. And marinated seafood, like classic West Indies salad and southern pickled shrimp, fits them both. Think of them as a sort of Gulf Coast ceviche, even though you’re beginning with cooked seafood.

The Mobile, Alabama favorite, West Indies Salad, is made with crabmeat, minced onions and an oil and vinegar solution, and Charleston-born pickled shrimp, involves fresh boiled shrimp riding it out in a tangy marinade for a couple of days before serving. They’re delicious crowd pleasers that offer a refreshing counterpoint to party buffets where the rest of the line-up can be heavy.

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Appetizers, Farmers Markets, Hors d'oeuvres, Local

Need a stress-free hors d’oeuvre? A cheese board is the answer.

October 22, 2015

For a fast hors d’oeuvre, nothing is tastier, easier or prettier than a cheese board assembled from a few great cheeses, some fresh bread and seasonal garnishes.

Recently, I wrote an article for 225 Magazine on “Goat Lady” Wanda Barras, the farmstead cheese maker from St. Martinville, Louisiana, who sells her award-winning Belle Ecorce goat’s milk cheeses at the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge. Barras’ cheeses are officially “farmstead,” as opposed to “artisan,” because she uses milk from her resident herd of Nubian and La Mancha goats instead of milk purchased from an outside source. Her cheeses are absolutely delicious. I picked some up this past weekend after doing a cooking demo at the Saturday market.

Recently, Barras added a few Jersey cows to the mix, and now she’s also producing delicious aged cow’s milk cheeses. She has at least three regular varieties of bleu and the Camembert (pictured here), which is vibrant and punchy. Its flavor profile and texture is so much more complex than the garden variety Camemberts in the supermarket. I’ve also got a few of her flavored chevres here, including the cracked pepper and red pepper-topped Parisian. They’re creamy and sublime.

I like to serve cheese with toasted slices of a fresh whole grain baguette, and I love to throw in some quince paste (membrillo), which goes nicely with a salty cheese like Manchego, its traditional mate, or even good Parmesan.

Don’t sweat the food styling. Thankfully, expectations for arranging a cheese board have become increasingly relaxed. Over-the-top Martha Stewart is out. The more natural and loose the platter looks, the better.

Enjoy!CheeseBoard

Celebrations, Christmas, Fresh from the Gulf, Holiday, Hors d'oeuvres

Crabby snacks!

December 24, 2014

Need a quick hors d’oeuvres for the holiday frenzy? Cucumber cups filled with something creamy and wonderful are a great place to start. I filled these with fresh Gulf lump crabmeat blended with a little mayo, lemon juice, capers, some chopped celery and a little salt. I found Persian cucumbers at Trader Joe’s, but you can also use English cukes. The goal is to find a cucumber that’s on the thinner side. Peel it, cut it into manageable widths and scoop out the pulp gently from one side, leaving a “floor” on the other. Fill the cup with the crab mixture and place on a pretty plate. A regular cucumber also works fine. Just slice it into thin discs and serve the crab on top, as shown.

One-bite snacks like these are perfect starters for heavy Christmas day meals or with evening cocktails. Great with rosé or sparkling wine. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!