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FRESH and Festive: Hors d’oeuvres—Bite Sized Foods Big on Taste

The Spanish have tapas, the English have high tea, the Mexicans have antojitos. They’re all a form of hors d’oeuvre, a word that comes from the French phrase for “out of the main course.”

Tapas, antojitos or hors d’oeuvres – they all translate to bite-size foods. Whatever you call them, everybody loves them. They are usually intensely flavored, and can be served on their own with cocktails when no other food is served, or as the first course of a more elaborate meal. But for some reason, many people are intimidated by preparing them, perhaps because they just don’t have the time or energy to deal with making dozens, or hundreds, of little snacks.

At FRESH, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our Catering Department and our many talented chefs can take the work out of any party for you. We can cater full dinners, or just put together a great display of hors d’oeuvres. The top three bite sized morsels of delectability from the FRESH catering menu are:

New Potato Sliders: A creative take on the slider trend, these are stuffed with your choice of pimento cheese, creamy crab with basil, Andouille sausage and green onion, or molasses pulled pork, with sharp cheddar.

Red Grapes Rolled in Bleu Cheese Mousse and Crushed Pistachios: These are popular because they combine so many flavors and textures in that one perfect little bite: Sweet, crisp, juicy grapes; pungent, creamy cheese; and salty, earthy pistachios.

Bacon-Wrapped Medjool Dates with a Port-Vanilla Reduction: For some reason, many people seem to have an aversion to dates. Whether it’s a taste or texture thing, I’m not sure. But if you say “dates,” people often look at you kind of funny. However, just try them. A few weeks ago we offered tastings of these bacon-wrapped dates and even the people who said they don’t like dates LOVED them! The crispy, salty, smokiness of the bacon pairs beautifully with the sweet richness of the date. The warm depth of the port wine reduction flavored with bay leaf and vanilla bean rounds out the flavor.

Those three bites can form the basis for a great appetizer spread, but if you want to add something from your own kitchen, here’s a quick recipe for a modern rumaki, the cocktail party favorite. Traditionally, rumaki involve bacon-wrapped liver, but my updated version replaces the liver with apricots, walnuts and cream cheese for a sweet-savory bite.

Apricot Rumaki
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24

3 oz cream cheese
1 lb bacon or 12 slices/cut in half
24 medium size dried apricots
24 candied walnuts
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Cut one pound or twelve slices of bacon in half, making 24 half slices.

Open dried apricot at the seam, peeling open to expose the center.

Place one half teaspoon Cream Cheese in the center of opened apricot.

Place one candied walnut in center and close apricot, encasing cheese and nut completely.

Place filled apricot at one end of each half slice of bacon and roll, be sure to roll so that the seam of each stuffed apricot is encased with bacon to avoid leakage.

Place each rolled Rumaki on a foil lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until bacon is completely cooked and lightly crispy.

Remove cooked Rumakis from the oven and drain on a paper towel.

Splash each Rumaki with balsamic vinegar while still sizzling hot.

Transfer to a serving platter.

QUICK TIPS: For a spicy variation, add a single slice of pickled jalapeno inside the apricots with the cream cheese and walnuts. To cut down on oven time and the fat, place the bacon into boiling water for about a minute. Remove bacon from the water and drain on paper towels… then roll your appetizers.