Read an Excerpt
The New James Beard
By James Beard
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1981 James Beard
All rights reserved.
In planning this chapter, I set my fancy free to roam across every category but soups and sweets, assembling a lively bazaar of inventive, bright-flavored dishes that whet the appetite without sating it too soon. It was happy work, for no kind of food is more fun to think about, has more variety, or lends itself to such alluring presentations and such piquant contrasts. Arranging the finished dishes for a big party is as much fun as composing them; I like the colors of a garnished tuna platter next to the soft yellow-greens of avocado stuffed with pink shrimp, and the plump shape of a big golden brioche contrasted with layers of tiny blini. The aromas hovering over a grand buffet blend so enticingly: the bracing marine waft of sizzling-hot mussels and clams, the subtleties of herbed pâtés, the comforting richness of chicken livers with scrambled eggs. I relish a mouthful in which textures combine on the tongue, like succulent, cool ripe fruit with a salty wisp of prosciutto, or the dense crumb of good dark bread with satiny smoked salmon. It's luxurious to eat like this, choosily and at leisure, between sips of wine or a crackling-cold mineral water, trying a sliver of this or a little mound of that, experimenting here, repeating there, pausing for greetings and conversations and laughter, and gradually, as the evening passes, composing a meal as you would a mosaic.
You might turn to this chapter first, when planning a big party, but bear in mind that almost all these dishes are excellent first courses for dinner, or main courses for luncheons and light suppers. Their number includes lots of delicious, quickly made "little somethings," too, for the times when a friend is expected for a glass of champagne and a chat. And don't confine your planning to this chapter. Appetizers can be anything that is easy to serve and fun to eat, and many dishes elsewhere in this book are excellent for the purpose. Salads, for instance, or egg or cheese or vegetable dishes, or even roast meats if the occasion and the hour seem to call for something substantial. What could be more appetizing than a rosy, fine-grained slice of roast fillet on your own good bread, with plenty of herbed butter?
I have even included a couple of novel cocktail tidbits here, though the long era of the old-fashioned cocktail party ended sometime in the seventies. With it departed "appetizer" as a misnomer for a salty, soggy bit of finger food, whose rather insidious purpose was to sop up alcohol while promoting a thirst for more. "Thirstifying" it was, perhaps, but appetizing, seldom. Hard liquor has lost favor, and now that people drink in a saner way, to enhance not dull the senses, they want delightful and interesting things to eat, not to snap up absent-mindedly. Small plates are called for, and forks; and I like my guests to have room to sit down before they move on again, to greet other friends — or to revisit the array of appetizers.
Anchovies with sweet peppers
with peppers and tuna
with shallots and parsley
with eggs and tomatoes
in sour cream
rolls with horseradish cream
Smoked haddock mousse
smoked trout mousse
with artichoke hearts
with hard-boiled egg
with tomatoes and onions
smoked sturgeon pâté
Pike and salmon pâté
striped bass tartare
with snail butter
Escabeche of fish
Shrimp in sour cream with mushrooms
crabmeat in sour cream
scallops in sour cream
Goujonettes of sole
in beer batter
Sardines with mint
Snails with garlic butter
in mushroom caps
Rolled chicken pâté
Pâté of chicken livers and ham
Pork liver pâté en brioche
Brioches with ham
Sausage en brioche
Sausage and croissants
Chicken in lettuce leaves
squab in lettuce leaves
Chicken hearts and livers en brochette
with béarnaise sauce
with scrambled eggs
hearts en brochette
with chicken hearts
Prosciutto with asparagus
Crabmeat and prosciutto
tomatoes stuffed with
with hard-boiled eggs
as a sauce for fish
Peppers stuffed with
anchovies and raisins
Avocado stuffed with shrimp
with avocado and Russian dressing
with chicken, ham, and cheese
Baked potatoes with caviar
new potatoes with caviar
deep-fried new potatoes with caviar
Twice-baked potato skins
Onions à la grecque
Asparagus Italian style
With the exception of the herring, no other salted fish is as widely used for an hors d'oeuvre as the anchovy. Shop for the large 1- or 2-pound tins of fillets in oil from Italy, Spain, or Portugal. They vary considerably in quality, from firm to mushy, so find a good brand and stick with it. Properly wrapped in foil, the opened tin will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Or shop for the salted anchovies which come whole in large tins or jars and are of excellent quality and flavor. You can fillet these anchovies very easily after they have been soaked in water to remove excess salt.
Sweet Peppers with Anchovies
Makes 12 servings
12 red bell peppers
½ cup olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons wine vinegar or sherry wine vinegar
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Roast the peppers (see page 165); remove skins, stems, and seeds; and quarter or halve them. Arrange in a flat serving dish. Make a dressing with the oil, vinegar, salt to taste (remember the anchovies are salty), and a few grinds of pepper. Pour this over the peppers and let them marinate several hours.
Remove from marinade and combine with the anchovy fillets and parsley and serve as an appetizer. Or serve in the dish with the marinade and pass the anchovies and parsley separately.
Anchovies, Peppers, and Tuna. For a more substantial dish, arrange the peppers with anchovies around a mound of fish and sprinkle with capers.
Anchovies with Shallots and Parsley. Alternate layers of chopped shallots with layers of chopped parsley and anchovy fillets, ending with parsley. Add enough olive oil to moisten each layer. For 1 pound of anchovy fillets you will need at least 1 cup chopped parsley and 1 cup chopped shallots. If shallots are not available, thinly sliced spring onions, scallions, or green onions can be substituted.
Anchovies with Eggs and Tomatoes. Alternate, in a serving dish, layers of thinly sliced, unpeeled ripe tomatoes, sliced hard-cooked eggs, and anchovy fillets arranged in crisscross fashion. Garnish with capers, chopped parsley, and black olives, and dress the hors d'oeuvre lightly with a vinaigrette sauce.
Anchovies with Tomatoes
Makes 12 servings
12 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 anchovy fillets
½ cup capers
1 cup black olives, the Greek or Italian ones
GARNISH: Chopped parsley
Cook the tomatoes slowly in the oil with the basil, garlic, pepper, and salt. (Be sparing with the salt as the anchovies will be salty.) When the tomato mixture is thickened (it should be more the consistency of a thick cream sauce or a fondue than a purée), taste for seasoning. Allow to cool, and spoon into a serving dish. Top with anchovy fillets, capers, and black olives. Add olive oil if you want to. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Herring is one of those foods that many people forget about as an hors d'oeuvre, but it is amazingly versatile and can be prepared and served in all kinds of ways. In Sweden, for instance, you'll find it accompanied by hot new potatoes and fresh dill, a delicious combination of flavors.
Salt herring can be bought packed in brine or already soaked and pickled. If you buy it in brine, the fish must be freshened first in cold water by soaking it for 24 hours, changing the water several times. Then remove, cut off the head, slit the fish and remove the fillets from the bone with a sharp knife. Any small remaining bones can be removed with tweezers, or they will dissolve eventually in the pickle. You can skin the herring or leave the skin on, as you wish.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
8 to 10 salt herring fillets, freshened
1 large onion, sliced
1 tart apple, diced
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Arrange the herring in a flat dish with the onion, apple, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Blend remaining ingredients separately in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cool slightly and pour over the herring. When thoroughly cooled, cover and refrigerate for several days before serving.
Marinated Herring. Omit mustard from recipe.
Herring in Sour Cream. Prepare marinated herring. Remove fillets from marinade and cut in pieces, or leave whole, as you wish. Arrange in a dish with the onions from the marinade and additional thinly sliced onion. Cover with sour cream.
Madeira Herring. Omit vinegar and sugar from pickled herring and cover with Madeira.
Mustard Herring. Arrange freshened fillets in a dish and cover with 1 onion, sliced into rings. Blend ? cup Dijon mustard and ½ cup olive oil. Add a dash of Tabasco, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, and ½ cup white wine. Pour over fish, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days.
Herring Salad. Cut 3 soaked herring fillets into bite-size pieces. Combine with 1 to 1½ cups diced cold meat (tongue, veal, or beef), 1 crisp apple (diced with the skin on), 1 cup diced cooked potatoes, and 1 cup diced beets. Toss well with mayonnaise or mayonnaise mixed with sour cream. Pack into a mold and chill. Unmold on a bed of greens and sprinkle with chopped fresh dill or parsley.
Makes 12 rollmops
3 fresh dill pickles, quartered lengthwise
6 salt herring, freshened and filleted but unskinned (12 fillets)
4 medium onions, sliced
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic
4 to 6 whole allspice berries
GARNISH: Fresh dill
Place a piece of dill pickle on each fillet, roll the fillet around it, and fasten with a toothpick. Arrange over sliced onions in a deep dish or bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a boil. Pour over the rollmops and allow to cool. Refrigerate for 48 hours. Serve with a garnish of fresh dill.
Marinated Smoked Salmon
Use a lesser grade of smoked salmon or lox, not the most expensive imported kind, and have it sliced very thin.
Makes 4 servings
½ pound smoked salmon or lox, thinly sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced paper-thin
6 to 8 sprigs fresh dill
1/4 cup capers
1 cup mayonnaise (see page 76)
1 cup yogurt
GARNISH: Parsley and dill sprigs, 1 thinly sliced unpeeled cucumber (not waxed)
Cut the smoked salmon into strips. In a rectangular serving dish arrange alternate layers of salmon, onion slices, sprigs of dill, and capers. Thin the mayonnaise with the yogurt (this gives it a sharp flavor) and pour the dressing over the salmon. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. To serve, garnish with the parsley and dill sprigs and arrange cucumber slices around the edge. If you can't get an unwaxed cucumber, either scrub off the coating of wax under scalding water or peel the cucumber.
Smoked Salmon Rolls with Horseradish Cream
The rich filling stretches smoked salmon for a dinner-party first course. Serve the rolls with strips of thin buttered rye-bread sandwiches or fingers of crisp hot buttered toast.
Makes 6 servings
½ cup cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup coarsely grated fresh horseradish or ? cup drained bottled horseradish
6 long, very thinly cut slices of smoked salmon
GARNISH: Capers, parsley sprigs, lemon wedges
Beat the cream cheese and sour cream to a paste and mix in the horseradish; if you use freshly grated horseradish, save some for the garnish. Spread the cream on the smoked salmon and roll up loosely. Arrange on individual plates and garnish with capers, parsley, lemon, and reserved horseradish.
Smoked Haddock Mousse
Smoked haddock, or finnan haddie, is usually served for breakfast, but this unusual way of treating it makes it elegant enough for a dinner party. You can buy either finnan haddie fillets or the whole fish. If you buy the whole fish, fillet it before cooking.
Makes 6 servings
1 pound smoked haddock, whole fish or fillets
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons béchamel sauce (see page 531)
1½ ounces gelatin
1 pint heavy cream
Poach the haddock in milk to cover with the butter for 15 minutes, or until it flakes. Drain and purée in a food processor or blender or by putting through a food mill. Mix the purée with the béchamel sauce. Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup cold water in a small saucepan, then stir over low heat until dissolved. Mix into the haddock thoroughly. Whip the cream until it is nearly thick, then mix it gradually into the haddock mixture with a wooden spatula, stirring to combine thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a 5-cup mold and chill until firm and set.
Smoked Trout Mousse. Instead of the haddock, use filleted, skinned smoked trout (this does not require cooking).
Kipper Mousse. Instead of the haddock, use canned kippered herrings.
Sardine Mousse. Instead of the haddock, use large boneless and skinless sardines.
Tuna is a classic hors d'oeuvre. The best brands are those packed in oil and imported from Europe; they contain either solid-pack meat or sliced fillets. If imported tuna is not available, use tuna packed in brine or a solid-pack white meat, draining it well and anointing it with good olive oil ahead of time so that it absorbs some of the oil flavor. Serve tuna with nothing more than capers or parsley for a garnish.
Tuna with Artichoke Hearts. Serve with artichoke hearts, anchovy fillets, and black olives.
Tuna with Hard-Boiled Egg. Surround with hard-boiled egg halves, capers, and anchovy fillets. Or alternate slices of hard-boiled egg and tomato. Garnish with capers and black Niçoise olives.
Tomatoes with Tuna
Scoop seeds and pulp from ripe tomatoes and drain. Fill with flaked tuna dressed with olive oil and tossed with finely chopped garlic, capers, and parsley. Garnish with black olives and anchovy fillets.
Tomatoes with Tuna and Onions
Fill the tomato shells with flaked tuna mixed with chopped green onion, or scallion, chopped parsley, chopped garlic, and chopped fresh basil, and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle tops with chopped parsley and crisscross two anchovy fillets on top. Garnish with Greek or Italian black olives.
Fill the tomato shells with flaked tuna mixed with drained canned cannellini beans, chopped garlic, chopped parsley, chopped basil, dressed with a basilflavored vinaigrette. Sprinkle tops with chopped parsley.
Quick, inexpensive and easy, and yet another way to use this good old standby. If you want to make it a bit grander, add a truffle.
Makes about 2½ cups
6 ounces cream cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs
7-ounce can tuna in olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons cognac
1 truffle (optional) or 12 Italian or Greek black olives, pitted
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup jellied consommé
Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature. Purée the hard-boiled eggs in the blender or food processor. Add tuna, with oil, and cognac, and blend or process until smooth (in a blender, you may have to do this in batches). Chop half the truffle and slice the rest thin, or chop half the olives and cut the others in two. Combine the chopped truffle or olives with the cream cheese, working with a fork until smooth. Season to taste with pepper. Put in blender or processor with the tuna and eggs and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Pack the pâté into a bowl and decorate with the sliced truffle or olives. Melt the consommé, then stir in a metal bowl over ice until syrupy and about to set. Cover the pâté with a thin coating of the consommé and chill until set. Serve with strips of toast or Melba toast.
Salmon Pâté. Use canned salmon, drained, with skin and bones removed.
Smoked Sturgeon Pâté. Use canned smoked sturgeon with the juices from the can and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Excerpted from The New James Beard by James Beard. Copyright © 1981 James Beard. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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