Do you know what the difference is among the above? Me neither. One is much harder to spell, but other than THAT, I’m thinking they are very similar. Of course, not all appetizers can be picked up with the fingers, so that is a reasonable distinction. For MY purposes, however, I mean a large variety of tasty treats that you serve in large quantities, buffet style, that will give you guests many choices and many different tastes.
My favorite way to entertain is with “these” categories. It is much more informal and people tend to be more relaxed than at a dinner party. Plus– and I think this is big–they get to talk to more than the three people seated immediately around them. I think I can get along with almost anyone, certainly long enough to eat dinner, BUT…. haven’t we all been seated next to someone at a dinner that was a) so boring that you had all you could do to not run screaming from the room, or b) so obnoxious that you began to rethink your views on capital punishment? Now I TRY my best not to include The Obnoxious in my guest list, but face it, sometimes it is inevitable. And as for boring, one man’s floor is another man’s ceiling, so that is just a matter of opinion.
So making a large variety of platters of interesting tidbits is a way of getting everyone to mingle and get to try different things. Also, it takes care of people with special dietary preferences… vegetarians and carnivores alike can find something they can fill up on! (and they can avoid each other if they feel strongly about it!!) So let’s start with:
CRISPY CRAB WON TONS WITH DIPPING SAUCES
This is one of the MOST popular appetizers (or whatever) that I make. I have found it impossible to make too many of these. No matter HOW many I make, there is always a crowd of people hovering over the last few, apparently hounded by old warnings of “it isn’t polite to take the LAST one” ringing in their ears. They usually chose to ignore the well-meaning teachings of past mentors, however, and polish off the last one. I take this as a sign that our guests agree that these are YUMMY little tidbits.
NOTE: This is a single recipe which I NEVER make. I typically double (or sometimes triple) the filling recipe and find that it takes 3 or 4 packages of won ton skinns to use up the filling. I suggest trying a single batch first to see if you LIKE them, obviously, and take it from there.
1 package of won ton wrappers (Dynasty are the best!)
1 package of imitation crab meat
1 8 0z. package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
Low sodium soy sauce
Peanut oil for frying
Chop the crab meat into very small pieces. Put cream cheese in medium bowl, add chopped crab, chopped green onions, a dash of soy sauce, a dash of garlic powder. Mix these together — I find that using your very clean hands is the easiest way to do this! Place a small amount (1/2 to 3/4 tsp.) of crab mixture in center of a won ton skin. Dip your finger in cold water and wet the edges of the skin. Fold won ton DIAGONALLY and seal the edges together well. (You don’t want them to leak filling into the oil).
You can fry these in a skillet with a generous amount of peanut oil in it, OR use a deep fryer. It is a little easier to do in the deep fryer as you don’t have to turn them over so carefully, but either way, they will taste wonderful. Fry them until golden brown and crispy, about five minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel lined baking sheet.
We serve these with a variety of dipping sauces, sometimes homemade, sometimes just purchased in the Asian section of the market. Whatever sounds good to you will work, although Plum sauce, Duck sauce, Sweet and Sour, Chinese Hot Mustard, and Peanut sauces are favorites. I do have a spicy peanut dipping sauce that I make, but it seems that the Plum and Sweet and Sour are the most popular.
You can make these earlier in the day and reheat them briefly on a cookie sheet for a few minutes at about 375 degrees. Watch them carefully, as they are quick to burn, which generally leads to uncontrolled weeping on the part of the cook AND the guests. If you are really lucky, you will one of your regular guests who loves to help … My friend Marcella’s son, Grant, LOVES to make these and offers to be the designated fryer at our gatherings. If you are not so fortunate, don’t worry about it. Reheating them doesn’t seem to change the feeding frenzy that they create!
Arrange them in some attractive manner on a tray with little bowls of dipping sauces and then stand back! I have yet to meet anyone who was ambivalent about these little buggers!!
Coming Soon: BLT Cherry Tomatoes – an easy and very popular item!