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Holiday favorites: Appetizers

Farinata, Italy's version of the chickpea pancake. (Jonathan Ernst for The Washington Post)

For last-minute party planners, in the Dec. 30 Food section we'll offer two sets of very quick, very easy hors d'oeuvres recipes that build on store-bought items from Costco and Trader Joe's. But for those of you who like to plan – like me! -- now is the time to start thinking about creative ideas for holiday appetizers.

Crostini are, of course, the easiest. These Crostini With Smoked Salmon, Arugula, Mascarpone and Fried Shallots are colored perfectly for the holidays. Just as delicious are these sweet-salty Fig, Gorgonzola and Arugula Crostini.

Both would pair well with champagne and sparkling wine.

For vegetarians, I like this easy Marinated Pecorino With Orange Peel and Herbs. Simply steep the cheese in olive oil and spices for two days in advance and serve with slices of fresh pear or fennel. (The leftover oil is great for dipping bread or you can use it for a vinaigrette.) For a hot option, I love this chickpea pancake called La Farinata. Wedges of it are great on their own. And although it's probably sacreligious to the cook who gave us the recipe, you can top them with smoked salmon or just about anything else.

Mini Indian meatballs spice up the party. (James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

In the seafood department, these quick-fried Wonton Crisps With Smoked Salmon and Wasabi couldn't be easier. Ditto the Scallops With Prosciutto, Lemon and Sage: Wrap a piece of ham around each scallop, then pop in the oven right before serving.

And if you're willing to go beyond finger food, try Mejillones La Gallega. For this recipe, chef Jose Andres swaps out the usual octopus for mussels. The meat is served out of the shell with potatoes and seasoned with smoked Spanish paprika.

For carnivores, Indian meatballs are always a treat. David Hagedorn made over the classic Swedish fare with South Asian flair. Serve with toothpicks or a side dish of basmati rice. For something more modern, try this elegant cured beef tenderloin. Rubbed with black pepper, star anise, orange, ginger and mint, then sliced ultra-thin, it's Swedish celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's take on carpaccio.

Just one piece of advice: Try to save room for the main course.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  December 21, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags: Christmas, Jane Black, recipes  
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If you're already frying something, these glazed teriyaki meatballs would make yummy appetizers:

For each 3 oz (80 g) of chopped meat:

saute 1/4 onion, minced, in a bit of oil.

Make small meatballs from the meat, onion, 2t. beaten egg, 2T panko and salt and pepper.

Deep fry at 340 for about 2-3 minutes till browned, then boil for 4-5 min. till glazed in:

2t. soy sauce, 1/2 t. sugar, 1/2 t. mirin, 1/2 t. sake and 3T water.

When you deep fry the meatballs, they stay round and juicy! But do it as the last use of your oil.

I usually add a bit more egg and a little less panko. If you're going to hold them in a chafing dish, you might want to make more sauce. You could also water down a bottled teriyaki sauce for the glazing sauce.

This came from a Japanese bento book I don't have with me now to cite the author.

Posted by: fran426 | December 22, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

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