Endive dippers, potato scoopers … appetizers Essay

On scene in time to help you through holiday entertaining with easeand style is Sunset’s all-new cook book, Appetizers–Horsd’Oeuvres to Light Meals (Lane Publishing Co.

, Menlo Park, Calif.;$4.95). From tidbits you nibble with refreshments, to dishes that make adinner first course, this 96-page book offers 150 recipes that rangefrom quick and simple to dramatic. The 24 full-page color photographsillustrate 38 recipes in serving situations. Ten special features include directions for planning anall-appetizer party, shopping information and recipes for the populargoat cheeses, and buying and serving guides for spirited liquidrefreshment. You’ll also learn how to dry tomatoes for snacks orto pack in oil, and find a guide to caviars at all price levels.

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The book, written by the editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, opens with a chapter on speedy, lighttreats emphasizing colorful vegetables. Dips, spreads, and pates in thenext chapter employ vegetables, meats, cheeses, and seafood inappetizers that are served hot or cold. The baked appetizer category includes breads, pastries,quiches–even pizza–while the chapter on snacks offers foods with ahigh protein bent.

The last chapter deals with salads, soups, andpastas to begin a meal. Make-ahead steps, helpful to every cook, are well noted in eachrecipe, as in the following two dishes. Make the chill sauce for dipping while the potatoes bake or whileyou are crisping the skins. Salsa Potato Skins 5 large russet potatoes(about 3 lb. total) Chili salsa (recipe follows) About 1/2 cup butter ormargarine, melted 3/4 cup each shredded Cheddar and jack cheese Scrub potatoes and pierce each with a fork. Bake in a 400[deg.

]oven until potatoes feel soft when squeezed, about 1 hour. Meanwhile,prepare chili salsa. Let potatoes stand until cool enough to touch. Cut each potatolengthwise into quarters. With a spoon, scoop flesh from skins, leavinga 1/8-inch-think shell. Reserve flesh for other uses.

Brush potato skins inside and out with butter. Place, cut side up,in a single layer on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Bake in a 500[deg.]oven until crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and distributecheeses among hot skins, filling equally.

Broil 4 inches from heat until cheeses are melted, about 2 minutes.Serve with salsa for dipping. Makes 20 appetizers. Chili salsa. Stir together I can (8 oz.) tomato sauce, I can (4oz.) diced green chilies, and 1/4 cup chopped green onions, includingtops. Pour salsa into a small serving bowl.

If made ahead, cover andrefrigerate up to a day. Sauteed slowly to bring out their sweetness, red bell peppers,onion, and garlic are the base of this creamy vegetable mousse, to eatit, scoop onto crisp leaves of Belgian endive. Use a knife to cut Belgian endive leaves from the head, so the baseof the leaves will be blunt and more efficient dippers.

Red Bell PepperDip 1/3 cup butter or margarine 4 large red bell peppers (1-1/2 to 1-3/4lb. total), seeded and chopped (cut 2 rings and reserve for garnish) 1small onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed 1/4teaspoon ground cumin Dash cayenne 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspooneach salt and grated lemon peel 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin 1/4 cupdry vermouth 1/2 cup whipping cream 6 to 8 medium-size heads Belgianendive, separated into leaves Melt butter in a 3-quart pan over medium heat. Add bell peppersand onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes.Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne, cook for 1 minute more. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender.

Add lemon juiceand salt and whirl until smooth (you should have about 2-2/3 cups).Place in a large bowl and blend in lemon peel. In a small pan, combine gelatin and vermouth; let stand about 5minutes. Stir over medium heat until gelatin is dissolved. Stir intovegetable mixture. Refrigerate or place in a larger bowl of ice water,stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to set, 30 to 45 minutes.

Whip cream until stiff; fold into vegetable mixture. Cover andrefrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day. Line a 5- to 6-cupsouffle dish with endive spears.

Spoon in vegetable mixture. Garnishwith red pepper rings. Serve with remaining endive. Makes about 4cups.

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