Appetizers From the Oven

Hot from the Oven

Bring on appetizers hot from the oven, and the aroma precedes them invitingly.

Parmesan Pocket Bread Appetizers

Utterly simple to make, these crisp triangles made from pocket, or pita bread are good on their own or for scopping up dips or spreads. Be sure to make plenty of these crunchy treats.

6-round pocket bread
3/4-cup, plus 4-tablespoons butter, melted
about 1-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut pocket breads in half, then split each half. Brush each half with melted butter, then sprinkle with about 1-tablespoon of the cheese, cut into 4 wedges. Place in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Makes about 8 dozen appetizers.

Crab and Cheese Rounds

Cocktail-size bread rounds make a handy base for many appetizer offerings. Here the bread is toasted, buttered and then topped with a zesty crab and cheese mixture that goes together in only minutes. Bake these elegant seafood appetizers just until bubbly and serve them warm from the oven.

About 3 dozen slices of cocktail size rye bread
About 5-tablespoons butter
2-cups cooked or canned crab meat (about 1-pound)
1/2-cup sour cream
1-tablespoon lemon juice
1/2-teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of liquid hot pepper sauce
1-1/2-cups (6 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

In a medium bowl, combine crab meat, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and 1-cup of the cheese. Spread about 1-tablespoon of the crab mixture on each slice of bread; evenly sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Then lightly sprinkle with paprika. Arrange rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Makes about 3 dozen appetizers.

Salsa Potato Skins

For many people the outside of the potato is the best part, especially when crisply baked skin is gilded with two kinds of cheese, broiled and offered as a party snack. For extra zip, serve an easy to prepare chile salsa dip with the skins, then watch them disappear.

5-large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
1/3-cup butter, melted
3/4-cup each shredded cheddar and jack cheeses
Chile Salsa (recipe to follow)

Scrub potatoes and pierce with a fork, bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until potatoes feel soft when squeezed. Meanwhile, make the Chile Salsa.

Let the potatoes stand until cool enough to touch. Cut each one lenghtwise into quarters. With a spoon, scoop flesh from skins, leaving 1/8-inch-thick shell. Reserve flesh for another use.(like homemade mashed potatoes or potato bread).

Brush skins inside and out with melted butter, place, cut side up in a single layer on a 12 by 15 inch baking sheet. Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and distribute cheeses among hot skins filling equally. Now broil 4 inches from heat until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve with sauce for dipping.
Makes 20 appetizers.

Chile Salsa Recipe;
Stir together 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce, 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles, and 1/4-cup chopped green onions, including tops. Pour into a small serving bowl.
If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to one day.

Happy Hour Mushrooms

Bubbly hot cheese-stuffed mushrooms won't last long at a party.

10-medium sized mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
6-tablespoons butter, softened
1-clove garlic, minced or pressed
3-tablespoons shredded jack cheese
2-tablespoons dry white or red wine
1-teaspoon soy sauce
1/3-cup fine cracker crumbs

Remove the stems from mushrooms, melt 2-tablespoons butter and brush over mushroom caps, coating well. Stir together remaining 4-tablespoons butter, garlic, and cheese until well blended. Mix in wine, soy sauce, and cracker crumbs. Place mushrooms, cavity side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Evenly mound filling in each, pressing lightly. Broil about 6 inches from heat until lightly browned (about 3 minutes). Serve warm.
Makes 10 appetizers.

Zesty Meatballs

The yogurt-horseradish sauce adds zest to these savory meatballs. You can make the meatballs well ahead and freeze for up to one month.

1-pound lean ground beef
1-egg slightly beaten
1/4-cup fine dried bread crumbs
1/4-cup thinly slice green onions, including tops
1-tablespoon soy sauce
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-teaspoon white granulated sugar
Horseradish sauce (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, green onion, soy sauce, salt and sugar until well blended. Shape into 1-inch balls,(at this point you can cover and refrigerate for up to one day or freeze up to one month). Prepare horseradish sauce and set aside.

Place meatballs, thaw if frozen, on a rimmed baking sheet and bake uncovered, in a 500 degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned; drain. Transfer to chafing dish and serve warm with sauce for dipping.
Makes about 5 dozen appetizers.

Horseradish Sauce;
In a small bowl, combine 2 to 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish, 1/2 cup thinly slice green onions, with tops, 4-teaspoons dry mustard, 1/4-teaspoon salt.and 1/2 pint (1 cup) plain yogurt, or use 1-cup sour cream and 1-tablespoon lemon juice. Stir until well blended. Transfer to serving bowl.

Cheese Twists

When a light accompaniment is needed, present a tray of these crisp, twisted cheese pastry strips. Crunchy sesame seeds complement their melt-in-you-mouth flakiness.

1-cup all-purpose flour
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-teaspoon ground ginger
1/2-cup butter
1-cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2-teaspoon Worestershire
2- 2-1/2 tablespoons cold water
1-egg, beaten
2-tablespoons sesame, caraway, poppy seeds or coarse salt

Mix flour, salt and ginger in a large bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in cheese, add Worcestershire to one tablespoon of the water and sprinkle over the flour mixture. Mix lightly, adding more of the remaining water as needed, until dough is evenly moist and clings together. With your hands, shape dough into a flatened ball.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 10 inch square. Brush with egg and sprinkle evenly with seeds. Cut in half, then cut each half into 1/2-inch strips, each 5-inches long. Holding each strip at ends, twist in opposite directions.
Place about one inch apart on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm; or let cool on wire racks and serve at room temperature.
Makes 40 appetizers.