Endive dippers, potato scoopers … appetizers Essay

On scene in time to help you through holiday entertaining with ease
and style is Sunset’s all-new cook book, Appetizers–Hors
d’Oeuvres to Light Meals (Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, Calif.;
$4.95). From tidbits you nibble with refreshments, to dishes that make a
dinner first course, this 96-page book offers 150 recipes that range
from quick and simple to dramatic. The 24 full-page color photographs
illustrate 38 recipes in serving situations.

Ten special features include directions for planning an
all-appetizer party, shopping information and recipes for the popular
goat cheeses, and buying and serving guides for spirited liquid
refreshment. You’ll also learn how to dry tomatoes for snacks or
to 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, light
treats emphasizing colorful vegetables. Dips, spreads, and pates in the
next chapter employ vegetables, meats, cheeses, and seafood in
appetizers that are served hot or cold.

The baked appetizer category includes breads, pastries,
quiches–even pizza–while the chapter on snacks offers foods with a
high protein bent. The last chapter deals with salads, soups, and
pastas to begin a meal.

Make-ahead steps, helpful to every cook, are well noted in each
recipe, as in the following two dishes.

Make the chill sauce for dipping while the potatoes bake or while
you are crisping the skins. Salsa Potato Skins 5 large russet potatoes
(about 3 lb. total) Chili salsa (recipe follows) About 1/2 cup butter or
margarine, 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 potato
lengthwise into quarters. With a spoon, scoop flesh from skins, leaving
a 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 distribute
cheeses 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 (4
oz.) diced green chilies, and 1/4 cup chopped green onions, including
tops. Pour salsa into a small serving bowl. If made ahead, cover and
refrigerate 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 eat
it, scoop onto crisp leaves of Belgian endive.

Use a knife to cut Belgian endive leaves from the head, so the base
of the leaves will be blunt and more efficient dippers. Red Bell Pepper
Dip 1/3 cup butter or margarine 4 large red bell peppers (1-1/2 to 1-3/4
lb. total), seeded and chopped (cut 2 rings and reserve for garnish) 1
small onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed 1/4
teaspoon ground cumin Dash cayenne 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon
each salt and grated lemon peel 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup
dry vermouth 1/2 cup whipping cream 6 to 8 medium-size heads Belgian
endive, separated into leaves

Melt butter in a 3-quart pan over medium heat. Add bell peppers
and 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 juice
and 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 5
minutes. Stir over medium heat until gelatin is dissolved. Stir into
vegetable 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 and
refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day. Line a 5- to 6-cup
souffle dish with endive spears. Spoon in vegetable mixture. Garnish
with red pepper rings. Serve with remaining endive. Makes about 4


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