In the January/February issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray, our editor-in-chief Lauren Purcell dishes about all things dinner parties. "I'm deeply fond of theme parties," she says, "But somehow, my theme-mania never translated to dinner parties. Until now!"
As the Queen of Cocktail Parties (she did write her own cookbook on the subject, in fact), it only makes sense that the first party Lauren wants to throw in the new year is an hors d'Oeuvres party: a small (and seated) group so everyone can be in on the same conversations, plus the festive feel you get from having a bite of this, a taste of that. Check out her three recipe picks below!
Goat Cheese and Leek Croustades
For the croustade cups
36 slices high-quality white sandwich bread
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
For the filling
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped leeks, white and pale green parts (about 2 medium leeks)
8 ounces soft mild goat cheese
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
Prepare the cups
Preheat oven to 350°F.
With a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out a round of bread from each slice. Brush one side of each round with the melted butter. Press the bread, butter side down, into the cup of a mini muffin tin. The bread will not reach the top of the cups.
Bake until the top edges are browned, 11 to 13 minutes. Remove the croustades to a wire rack to cool.
Prepare the filling
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. If the leeks begin to brown, lower the heat.
In a food processor, blend the goat cheese, olive oil, yogurt, chives, parsley, salt, and pepper until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in leeks. Set aside.
Toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat, shaking frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
Return the croustade cups to the muffin tins and fill each cup with goat cheese mixture. Top with 3 to 4 pine nuts. Bake for about 5 minutes.
Makes 36 croustades.
Shrimp with Spicy Lime Dip
For the shrimp
1 pound medium shrimp
2 garlic cloves, crushed
For the spicy lime dip
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 small chipotle chiles in adobo, minced to a paste, plus 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (1 lime)
Prepare the shrimp
Peel the shrimp and devein them, if desired. Put the garlic in a pot of generously salted water and bring water to a boil. Put shrimp in and cook until they’re pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. (The water may not return to a boil in that time.) Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Prepare the dip
Prepare the dip: Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Makes 40 to 50 shrimp and 1 1/2 cups of dip
Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Dill Sauce
For the meatballs
1/3 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (about 2 slices white bread, ground in food processor)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
For the sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
ground white pepper to taste
Prepare the sauce
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Prepare the meatballs
Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a small, nonstick skillet, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a big bowl. Stir in the salt, mint, allspice, and cinnamon. Add the lamb, bread crumbs, egg, cranberries, and sesame seeds and combine thoroughly (the easiest way is to use your hands).
Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. (Guests will be spearing them with toothpicks, so they should be no bigger than two bites’ worth.) Line up the meatballs on an ungreased baking sheet as you go (they can be close, just not touching). Bake just until no longer pink in the middle, 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve with the dill sauce alongside.
Makes about 32 meatballs and 1 1/4 cups sauce.
For more of Lauren's recipes, visit her website here.