Delicious Hors d’Oeuvres

Crabmeat SaladIn "Neat Eats" (M&C, October 2008), we featured an array of tantalizing hors d'oeuvres created by chef James Briscione ( at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, like the yummy curried crabmeat and watermelon salad, right. Below are select recipes from that story that you can incorporate into your own events.

Scallop Soup Shooter

10 ripe red tomatoes
5 kirby cucumbers
2 shallots
1 red bell pepper
fresh basil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Roughly chop the first five ingredients and toss together in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Refrigerate for three hours, then remove the mixture and, working in batches, pulse in a food processor until it runs smooth.
3. Pass the pureed mixture through a fine strainer and press well to extract as much liquid as possible.
4. Move the strained liquid to a chilled container and discard the solids.
5. Taste the liquid and season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.

Scallop Garnish:
bay scallops, 2 pieces per soup serving
olive oil
pinch of ground cumin
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper

1. Toss the scallops with olive oil, cumin, lemon zest, salt and pepper. 
2. Place two scallops on each skewer, arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and roast in a 350˚ oven until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
3. Serve the soup in 2-ounce cups, inserting a scallop skewer in each to mock a cocktail stirrer.

Pancake Poppers

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 ¼ cups milk
1 egg
2 ounces butter, melted
1 pint blueberries

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a medium flame, then the milk to warm slightly. Remove from heat and add the egg.
3. Add all of the wet ingredients to the dry at once and stir until combined.
4. Set batter aside to rest for 30 minutes. Stir the blueberries into the batter.
5. Heat a cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan and add just enough oil to cover the bottom. Pour the batter into the heated skillet, using a ¼-cup measure as a scoop.
6. Cook until bubbles form and the edges are brown. Turn, and cook approximately 1 minute more.

Maple Sauce:
½ cup Maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter

1. Heat the maple syrup in a small saucepot until bubbling and slightly darkened in color.
2. Cut the butter into small pieces and stir in gradually.
3. To plate, cut the pancakes into squares and place on a skewer, alternating cakes with fresh berries.
4. Serve with warm maple sauce.

Mac and Cheese Arancini

1 box penne pasta, cooked
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon srirracha hot sauce or hot sauce of choice
1 recipe béchamel (see below)
1 cup grated or diced mozzarella cheese (optional)
½ cup parmesan cheese
flour, eggs and breadcrumbs for frying

1. Prepare the béchamel (see recipe below) and keep hot while the pasta cooks.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just tender.
3. Drain the pasta and set aside in a colander to steam dry for a few minutes.
4. Add the cheddar cheese and hot sauce to the béchamel. Stir until melted and smooth.
5. Combine the pasta and cheese sauce, mix well and taste for seasoning. Stir in the mozzarella (if using).
6. Spread the macaroni and cheese into a thin layer on plastic-lined baking sheets. 7. Cool completely, then cut into bite-sized triangles.

To prepare the batter:
1. Lace the flour in one bowl, whisk three to four eggs in another and fill a third with breadcrumbs.
2. Dip the pieces into the flour, remove and shake off the excess. Next dip into the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
3. Heat a pot of oil to 350˚ and drop the breadcrumb-coated macaroni and cheese pieces into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup milk
salt and pepper

1. To make the roux, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until a smooth paste forms.
3. Add the milk slowly, continuing to whisk as the sauce thickens. The roux will immediately solidify; keep stirring until smooth.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Lower the heat and cook while stirring for two to three minutes more. Remove from heat.

Lamb Sushi

two lamb loins or tender loins, trimmed
1 cup pistachio, shelled and chopped
¼ cup Dijon mustard
4 cups medium-grain rice

1. In a dry pan, toast the chopped pistachio. Add the rice, a pinch of salt and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 12 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
2. While the rice is cooking, cut the lamb into one inch square strips. Season well with salt and black pepper and sear over very high heat until browned on all sides but still rare. Remove to a rack to cool.
3. When the rice is done, turn it out to a large dish and fluff with a spatula. Meanwhile, once the lamb has cooled, pat it dry with a towel and spread a layer of the mustard on all sides.
4. Now, it's time to roll sushi. If you don't have a sushi mat, lay some plastic wrap over a clean kitchen towel. Make a 4-inch by 6-inch rectangle of pistachio rice on the plastic wrap.
5. Lay the mustard-coated strip of lamb across the bottom third of the rice and begin rolling form the bottom up, using your fingers to hold the venison in place. When you reach the top, twist up the ends of plastic wrap like a tootsie roll, and stick it in the fridge to firm while you roll the rest. To help keep the rolls together, slice them before removing the plastic wrap.

Curried Crabmeat and Watermelon Salad

1 tablespoon curry powder
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 pound lump crabmeat
1 tablespoon mint, torn
1 lime
1 watermelon

1. Heat the curry powder in a dry pan over high heat until aromatic. Remove immediately to a bowl, so it doesn't burn.
2. Mix in the mayonnaise and juice of one lime.
3. Add the crabmeat and mix until just coated, being careful not to break up the crab too much.
4. Carefully fold in the torn mint leaves.
5. Cut the watermelon into one-inch slices.
6. Using a small round cutter, punch out rounds of watermelon.
7. Using a small Parisian scoop (melon baller), scoop the watermelon rounds into cups. Fill each cup with the curried crab mixture and serve chilled.