Open House Antipasto Salad


antipasto

antipasto (Photo credit: freakgirl)

Whenever it is time for a holiday gathering, especially for those open house parties that are held at the end of the year, we like to serve up a variety of salads.  One of our favorites is this Italian style antipasto salads of which you can mix and match the vegetables and meats to suit your own tastes.  This one features traditional Italian cold cuts that can be obtained at your supermarket deli counter or in Italian food specialty shops.  Sometimes, I switch the ingredients around, using julienned turkey or reduced salt ham and cheeses for the saltier Italian cold cuts and replace the plain iceberg lettuce base with varied leafy greens to line the platter as a base.  It’s you choice whether to make the traditional Italian style salad or whether you would rather have the reduced-salt, lower calorie version.  As long as the vegetables are the marinated version, the taste should remain close to the original.  I often use leafy greens like iceberg,  romaine, red leaf and Bibb lettuce as well as the mixed greens like Mesclun, spinach and Italian blend that come in large bags at warehouse stores.

The amounts of ingredients in this salad can be increased so the measurements are not exacting.  Change the ingredient amounts to suit your taste.  We use less cold cuts and more vegetables to make a colorful display.  Serve up with a fancy spoon and fork set and a colorful platter. (We sometimes use a turkey platter).  The recipe is as follows:

INGREDIENTS:

Lettuce (of your choice)
Large jar marinated mushrooms
Black olives (Sicilian, Greek, black pitted, or green olives)
2 large jars artichoke hearts – drained and cut in half
2 jars roasted peppers, slice in strips
one jar anchovies, drained (amount used to your taste)
1 small onion – peeled and cut into rings
1 pound Genoa salami – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1 pound prosciutto – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1/2  pound capiccola – sliced into strips or matchsticks
1 pound Provolone cheese
(your may also use turkey, any cheese desired, ham, or other deli meat as desired)

Line a large platter with layers of lettuce or greens making salad as large as you like.  Place in order on top of greens – peppers, artichokes, olives, mushrooms, onion,  peppers, and anchovies.  Decoratively top with sliced cold cuts.

I use a homemade Italian dressing to top this, but some like just a bit of olive oil and vinegar with the addition of a bit of oregano.
You may use any dressing that suits you or serve with a variety of dressings presented with holiday spoons and bowls.

I hope your holiday parties are fun and festive.  Happy Holidays from my house to yours!!!

Mocha Coffee Punch


Punch Bowl

(Photo credit: Josh Self)

For a different punch while you, your family and friends put up the Christmas decorations, I’ve opted for a cold punch instead of a hot one.  This punch serves 40 punch cup servings (or less in 6-8 ounce glass).  Even though the punch can be used for the summer, it has a heavy-bodied feel that is nice in the winter, too.

1 gallon strong coffee – chilled
3/4 cups sugar
1 gallon chocolate ice cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint whipping cream (heavy cream) whipped
and sweetened
grated nutmeg

Combine the sugar, coffee and vanilla.  Stir to dissolve.  Refrigerate mixture.  To serve, scoop ice cream into the punch bowl.  Add refrigerated coffee mixture and then gently fold in the whipped cream.  Sprinkle the top with grated nutmeg to taste.

Servings:  40 punch cups full

I serve this up in an antique milk glass bowl, but it also looks great in a cranberry glass bowl and ladled up with a silver ladle.

Some appetizer recipes are to follow.

Happy decorating.  It’s time to bring tree, ornaments, and lights from the storage room!!!

Italian Ricotta Pie


Ricotta cheese.

Ricotta cheese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usually during this time of year, holiday tables are full of dessert pies made of a variety of fruit fillings.  On our table for Thanksgiving Day is a variety of ethnic dishes including one for this Italian basic ricotta pie.  It’s very rich, but it can be made with part-skim ricotta to cut down a bit on calories.  This is a quick and easy pie to make and should add a very distinct flavor to your holiday meal.

Crust:

 

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks (from large or extra large eggs)

Filling:

2 pounds Ricotta cheese (or part-skim_
1  1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 egg whites (from large or extra large eggs)
2 teaspoons lemon and rind
1  1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

For the crust, place 2 cups flour in large mixing bowl with baking powder, stir dry ingredients to blend.  With fork, cut in margarine until small balls form.  Add vanilla and slowly put milk in while blending with fork until ball forms.  Add egg yolks and continue stirring until a large ball forms.  If it is too dry to roll, add just a small amount of milk until of rolling consistency.  Roll out dough onto waxed paper – one for top and one for bottom.  Put half of dough into bottom of 10 inch pie plate.  Reserve other half for top of ricotta pie.

For the filling, in mixer bowl place ricotta cheese, egg whites,  lemon and rind, mix.  Then add the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.  Blend for approximately 7 minutes of medium speed or until smooth.  Pour into pie crust.  Place reserved pie crust on top of filling and crimp the edges as desired.  Brush top crust lightly with egg white and place four small cuts to vent steam.  Cover edges with aluminum foil to protect rim of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Scrappy Pie


Newfoundland Blue Ensign.

Newfoundland Blue Ensign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remembrance Day falls this year in Canada on November 11th.  Some provinces and territories celebrate it, also, on November 12th.  My Dad hails from Newfoundland, and at times he made what he called scrappy pie to celebrate it.  It is on Remembrance Day there that Canadians  remember  all of the fallen soldiers from past wars.

My great-uncle Charles was killed in Belgium in the first World War and is buried  where he was killed defending his fallen comrades.  His name is called out and his memory is saluted by a contingent of military members at Parliament every year on this day.  For this I simply give you my father’s Americanized version of Scrappy Pie (or Newfoundland Seafood Pie):

Potato topping ingredients:   1 cup all purpose flour,  1/2 cup fresh mashed potato, 4 ounces butter, 1 tablespoon milk, 2  Tablespoons dried breadcrumbs.

Filling:  16 ounces whitefish (cod, haddock, whiting or your choice), large cooked shrimp (8 ounces), 1 small onion- chopped fine, 1 cup frozen peas, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped fine, zest of a lemon – grated, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 cups milk.

Sift flour into a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender or fork, mix this with the mashed potato until thoroughly blended.  Blend in the  butter,  then draw into a dough, adding a bit of water until dough sticks together.  Wrap dough in pastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.

Prepare filling by cutting fish into chucks and putting them into a 10 inch pie pan or baking dish.   Mix in the seafood, onions, peas, parsley and zest.  Blend the cornstarch with a bit of milk in a bowl.  Heat the remaining milk almost to boiling and stir it into the cornstarch mixture.  Return mixture to pan and stir until the mixture thickens.  Add seasoning and pour over fish filling.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Bring oven to 400F (200C).

Roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper to overlap to of pie plate.  Remove the top of the waxed paper and use the bottom sheet to help position dough on top of seafood mixture.

Press dough around edges of pan and clean up the edges.  Slash center of pie with small knife to vent steam.  Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle liberally with plain breadcrumbs.

Put pie on a baking sheet  Bake for 10 minutes – then drop temperature to 350F (180C).   Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

My father cooked this for us when we were very young and it’s the closest I can come to the original recipe.  I sought out Scrappy Pie recipes everywhere to no avail, so if someone could forward me more from the great nation of Canada, I would greatly appreciate it.

May you stay safe and sound on Remembrance Day.  And to my remaining Newfoundland cousins, may the sea treat you right and the cod keep running.

Auntie Annie’s Halloween Chocolate Turtle Candy


English: A Pearson's Bun Bar shown whole. One ...

English: A Pearson’s Bun Bar shown whole. One of three flavors (caramel specifically) but all of the Bun Bars have the same outward appearance. Candy was provided from the Pearson’s Candy Company to Evan-Amos for the direct purpose of adding pictures to the Wikipedia articles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Auntie Annie’s busiest times of the year were most major holidays.  Not only was she busy during American holidays, but during most of the major international ones, as well.  You see, she was a worker at one of the larger U.S. candy factories that made famous brand novelty and boxed fancy assortments.  She had been working at the factory as a line worker and then a fancy chocolates dipper since the turn of the 20th century.  She would trek off to the chocolate factory every morning for over fifty years, having started her job, in those very emancipated days, at a young and tender age.   Her salary was well received by her struggling family, who also enjoyed the fruits of her labors – having access to chocolate bars, candy wafers, turtle clusters, caramel, and a full product line of tooth decaying, fattening goodies.

During the holidays , before Halloween, Auntie Annie would have us for a visit and when she was making candy gifts for Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, Hanukkah and Christmas, she would often teach me how to make one of the famous candies that she worked to turn out on a daily basis at the factory.  She would have huge pans of bubbling, boiling caramel.  Chocolate would be melting at the front of the stove.  Her idea of a double boiler was a spaghetti cooking pan with a very large bowl sitting on top.  There were several of these crowding her old fashioned stove.  She taught me how to make her famous Chocolate turtle clusters when I was about fifteen years old.  During that visit, she also tried to teach me how to put the swirls on those fancy chocolates with creme centers, but I was a dismal failure and my attempts looked more like puckery little blobs.  Those were fun and unique Autumn days and we, as little children (and all of our young friends, too),  looked forward to our holiday boxes and tins of these delicious, sinful, ultimately perfect treats. I hope you like them as much as my family does.

ANNIE’S CHOCOLATE TURTLE CANDY

Equipment needed – large baking sheets, metal spoons, wooden spoons, measuring spoons, waxed paper, large metal bowls, double boiler, candy tins and boxes.

Cover baking sheets with waxed paper and grease lightly grease waxed paper with margarine.

INGREDIENTS

42 candy caramel squares

3 Tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (may use toasted walnuts, unsalted almonds, macadamia nuts or hazelnuts)

1 cup milk chocolate morsels or chopped milk chocolate bars

Arrange several nuts, in cluster, on baking sheet.  You may use the amount you would like.  Place nuts one inch apart or more from each other.  Put caramel squares in the double boiler with butter and put over boiling water until completely melted, stirring constantly.  When caramels are melted, remove from stove and stir in vanilla.  Drop melted caramel in spoonfuls onto nuts until they are thoroughly covered.   Let nut clusters cool to a firm, cool stage.  Melt the chocolate and butter in double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.  Pour melted chocolate over nut clusters and cool them on the tray until they are firm.  Do not chill in refrigerator as this may discolor the candy clusters.  Put in metal tins between squares of wax paper and store in a cool, dry place.

We always loved making these with my Aunt Annie and no holiday was complete without them.  I plan to get started on mine in a few days for future gift giving.  I wonder if my aunt haunts the old site of the candy factory these days, wandering the halls, checking on equipment, chocolate mixtures, and trekking into the factory to check on the efficiency of present day laborers.

If they hear the sound of her shoes tapping around the chocolate vats, then they know that she’s on the lookout  this Halloween season.

Happy Halloween.