Party season begins

Published 11:31 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Staff
Lisa Tindell
Cook’s Corner
The holiday season is officially here and with the season comes parties, parties and more parties.
If you are invited to a party where taking a dish is expected, you may be looking for something new to wow the guests. If you’re hosting a party of your own, you’ll certainly be looking for something to make the event a memorable one.
In looking for dishes to serve myself, I’ve found a few recipes that harkenback to the olden days that reminded me of the old saying “everything old is new again.”
If you’re looking for a fancy, yet simple and budget-friendly dish to serve, I’ve found some things that may be perfect.
Cheese puffs can be prepared ahead of time and filled with a wide variety of ingredients that will create a beautiful platter of appetizers. They take just a little effort to make but are certainly budget-friendly and versatile.
Cheese Puffs
1 cup flour
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
3⁄4 Cheddar cheese, shredded
1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. basil, oregano or thyme
2 tbsp. poppy seeds (optional)
In a 2-quart pan, combine 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup butter.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt butter. Add flour, all at once; remove pan from heat and beat vigorously with a wire whisk until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until mixture is smooth and glossy. Beat Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, dry mustard, cayenne, and basil, oregano leaves, or thyme leaves. Add poppy seeds (if desired) to the batter. Drop by spoonfuls (making balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and brown. Turn off oven. Prick each puff in 5 places and leave in closed oven for 10 minutes to dry. Serve warm, or cool completely, then freeze. If made ahead, recrisp puffs (no need to thaw) uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until warmed. Makes about 36 puffs.
Filling the puffs can be as much fun as eating them. The puffs can be filled with a variety of ingredients from a simple chopped meat filling to vegetables or salads.
The following recipe is a very simple recipe that can be made a day ahead and spooned into the puffs just before serving. To fill puffs with any filling, slice the top third off the puff and discard the doughy centers.
You can use the discarded dough as breadcrumbs in other recipes. Fill the puffs and replace with top.
Vegetable Puff Filling
2/3 cup cottage cheese
3 tbsp. each minced celery and carrot
2 tbsp. minced scallion (green onion)
2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Dash salt
Mix ingredients until well blended. Spoon into prepared puffs just before serving. Another savory filling for the puffs uses canned deviled ham. This simple filling needs to be made ahead of time to allow for chilling. Serve the filled puffs at room temperature.
Ham Puff Filling
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese softened
1/3 cup commercial sour cream
2 (41/2-ounce) cans deviled ham
3 tbsp. horseradish
3/4 tsp. white pepper
3/4 tsp. onion powder
Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamed and smooth. Add remaining ingredients until well blended. Cover and chill for one hour before filling puffs.
Until next week, happy cooking.

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