Holiday Appetizers and Small Plates

By Marsha Fottler –

Everybody nibbles and noshes during the holiday season – chips and dip, hot canapes, small plates and sharing platters representing recipes from all over the globe and from all cultures. It’s the way modern foodies enjoy getting together with family and friends to create food memories in an informal party atmosphere.

There’s a new book out called 750 Best Appetizers by Judith Finlayson and Chef Jordan Wagman that might be your new best friend in the kitchen, especially if you love to entertain. Dips, salsas, spreads, tapenades, shooters, kabobs, sliders and lots more. There are 16 chapters arranged around specific types of dishes including chapters on wraps and rolls. The paperback book (with color photographs of some of the dishes) lays flat on a counter making it convenient to use. Along with the recipes you get serving tips and advice on where to shop for certain items and how to store your appetizers if you want to make them a day or two ahead of the party. Here are some recipes from this engaging and useful book.


Green Olive Tapenade

(makes about one cup and is vegan friendly)

1 cup pitted drained green olives

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

1 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon drained capers

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse olives, basil, garlic and capers until finely chopped. Add olive oil and lemon juice and pluse just ntil blended. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.


Eggplant and Date Salsa

(makes about 1 ½ cups and this Middle Eastern dish is vegan friendly)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups diced unpeeled eggplant

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

½ cup finely diced tomato

¼ cup finely diced dried dates

¼ cup finely diced sweet onion

1 tablespoon sweet barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon minced black olives (not canned)

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add eggplant, salt and thyme and cook., stirring until eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add tomato, dates, onion, barbecue sauce, olives, lemon juice and peppercorns to eggplant mixture and mix well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld or refrigerate for up to 1 day before serving. Serve with warm wedges of pita bread or pita chips from the grocery store.


Martini-Marinated Salmon Spread

(Makes about ¾ cup)

4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

¼ cup vodka

1 teaspoon dry vermouth

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

3 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely snipped chives

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Place salmon in a small shallow dish. In a small bowl, combine vodka, vermouth and pepper. Pour over salmon, lifting salmon to ensure the “martini” touches all salmon surfaces. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain, discarding liquid. Transfer salmon to food processor. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise, chives and zest. Process until smooth. Serve immediately with thinly sliced dark rye bread.

(750 Best Appetizers by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman. Robert Rose publishers, $24.95)

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