Wednesday, December 31, 2014


SHOW me the hostess who hasn't had a kitchen catastrophe or dinner party memory lapse. (I forgot to serve the rolls) and I'll show you a wonder woman.

And this reminds me of a best friend and her husband who worked all day preparing for a dinner party for twelve. Leaving nothing to last-minute chance, Beth put out all the dishes, labeling each for its ultimate contents.

She then proceeded with a detailed written time table for broiling this, heating that, whipping and and so on.

Surveying the job well done the couple decided a drink was in order to be followed by a short nap before the guests arrives.

Five hours later, they awakened to find that the guests had arrived, had followed Beth's instructions to the letter, enjoyed themselves immensely and departed.

On the dining table was a cordial note of thanks for a lovely evening, signed by each.

One of my worse gaffs was forgetting my responsibilities for the Happy Hour nibbles prior to the club's annual dinner and business meeting. Even minutes before the appointed time, my hastily summoned committee and I were creating dips on the spot, spreading crackers like crazy and stuffing eggs like madwomen.

My mother, having volunteered her services in the emergency, concocted a pea bean dip that was totally consumed in the first fifteen minutes.

Unfortunately, she could never recreate it.

Than again, for totally justifiable reasons too lengthy to detail, but trust me, I served thin wedges of what was probably the worst quiche to ever emerge from any oven. It was only mildly cheesy, too eggy, totally tasteless really. Small wonder considering the diced green pepper, onions, mushrooms, bacon bits and half the cheese were still in the refrigerator.

Only the next day when relating the gaff to good friend Terese, did I remember the missing ingredients still in their covered bowls. Being the sweet person she is, and operating on the theory that misery loves company,  Terese confided that very week she had made peanut butter cookies without (you guessed it) the peanut butter.

Now have you ever wondered why, when and where the custom of serving hors d'oeuvres originated?

They're supposed to delight the eye, whet the appetite and seduce the palate.

As to where it all started, credit the Chinese who were reportedly the first to serve tidbits before a meal centuries ago. Zakuska became the Russian versions while the Italians have their antipasto and Scandinavians offer smorgasbord.

The custom came late to America, around of the turn of the 20th century, when a lavish free-lunch counter flourished in every bar, be it a swinging door saloon or a plush hotel lounge.

The custom became less prevalent and the offerings less substantial over the years (maybe it was the depression). The current "Happy Hour" tidbits at bars and bistros perpetuate the public preliminaries but more modestly when, my father assured me, many Boston businessmen arrived home for supper with appetites more satiated than whetted.

You and I are concerned only with private home hospitality  and our efforts to please guests with edibles more enticing than chips, dips, peanuts, popcorn and pretzels.

The caring hostess will turn her thoughts to something delicious, different and not too time-consuming in preparation, focusing, of course, on three key words . . . eye, appetite and palate!


This is an original with me! They're delicious, different, flexible and make  nice spot of color on the hors d'oeuvre tray. They look as if you'd put in more effort than have, which is a nice thought.
  • 1 round loaf of bread unsliced
  • 1 cup egg salad
  • 1 cup ham and pickle salad
  • 1 cup cream cheese and olive
Slice bread parallel with the bottom crust so you'll have several (depending on the size of the bread) round slices 3/8 inch thick.

In the center of a slice make a circle of one of the salad mixture.

Make a second circle of the second mixture.

Make a third and outside circle of the third mixture.

Cut into wedges of you'll have three salads on each wedge.

The choices are many. I've used turkey, chicken, tuna, lobster, crab, chopped beef in many combinations. Do vary the center filling though, so you won't end up with leftovers of any one kind, the center using the least filling of course.


I'd heard about these long before tasting them and finally understood
the enthusiasm for Don's mushrooms. They take time but are well worth every minute. This is an original.
  • 12 large mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 medium onion, finally chopped
  • 2 oz. pepperoni finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed crackers
  • 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned sale
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
Wash mushrooms.

Remove stems, finely chop and reserve.

Drain caps on paper towels.

Melt butter, add onion, pepperoni, green pepper, garlic and chopped stems.

Cook over low flame until tender but not brown.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well and stir in chicken broth.

Spoon stuffing into caps rounding tops.

Place in shallow baking pan with 1/4 inch water covering bottom and bake uncovered in 325° oven for about 25 minutes.


Pat, a friend who abhors parsnips, adores these. She had them at a cocktail party where they were
devoured as quickly as the hostess refilled the bowl. I've found the same reaction when they're served.
  • 1 package frozen Brussels sprouts.
  • 1 bottle of your favorite salad dressing in the red wine and vinegar or oil and vinegar family
Cook the frozen sprouts for less than package directions say so that the little green globes will retain some crunch.

Drain, and while still hot, pour over your selected dressing.

Chill for several hours, turning sprouts occasionally.

Serve to guests with appropriate picks.


The Wagon Wheel restaurant and owner are long gone, but the namesake cheese spread continues to please. It's different and delectable.
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • light cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickles
  • 1 small onion
  • Small piece garlic
  • dash of Worcestershire Sauce
  • pinch of dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of paprika
  • 1/2 cup stuffed olives
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 tbsp. horseradish
Thin cheese slightly with 1-2 tablespoons cream, blend well with fork, add mayonnaise, chili sauce and blend again.

Season with salt, pepper and paprika.

Put pickles, olives, onion, green pepper and garlic through food chopper (or you can hand chop).

Drain thoroughly and add to cheese mixture.


Serve with Melba toast, crackers, or potato chips.


Guests invariably go for the hot hor d'oeuvres which many hostesses avoid due to the extra work and the need for last minute attention. Obviously the cold variety eliminates the need for over watching at the height of festivities. These can be spread in advance and are well worth the brief stint in the broiler.
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pimento
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Mix together.

Spread on round crackers or toast rounds and broil until the cheese starts to melt.

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