Alternatives to Typical Party & Picnic Foods

Alternatives to Typical Party & Picnic Foods

Shrimp Lafayette (instead of chilled shrimp cocktail)

Fill a frying pan with about 1/3 C. of olive oil, add 4 or 5 bay leaves and heat on medium. Add about 2 lb. of raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined, raise the heat a notch and cook until they start turning opaque. Then add a can of beer, a tsp. of corn starch and hot pepper flakes. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, then transfer shrimp and the juice to a serving bowl and enjoy.


Mediterranean platter (instead of celery, carrot sticks and dip)

On a large serving tray, arrange several slices of pita bread cut into triangles, a pile of broken-up feta cheese, a couple handfuls of shelled, halved walnuts, a few scoops of flavored hummus, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. Park a ramekin of olive oil in the middle of it all, and viola.


Baked green olives with bacon (instead of a relish tray)

Wrap each pimento or garlic-stuffed green olive in a thin thread of bacon and fasten with toothpicks. Bake on a cookie sheet in preheated 325-degree oven until bacon is cooked (about 10-12 minutes). Arrange on a platter with canned black olives and jarred pepperoncinis.


Chicken-stuffed endive leaves (instead of green salad)

Start with two C. of either homemade or store-purchased chicken. Add fresh tarragon, walnuts and finely diced apples to the mixture. Then fill the bottom tip of a dozen or more baby endive leaves with the salad. Arrange the leaves in a star formation on a large platter and sprinkle with dried chives.


Pierogis (instead of pasta or potato salad)

Boil one or two dozen of frozen potato-cheese-stuffed pierogis (purchased from freezer sections of major grocery stores) for 5-10 minutes. Drain and transfer into shallow baking pan filled with two sticks of cut-up butter and 2-3 chopped brown onions. Salt and sprinkle generously with black pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in 225-degree oven, occasionally turning the pierogis with an oven spoon. Serve in a wide, shallow bowl with a ramekin of sour cream on the side.


Asian pork tenderloin (instead of meat skewers)

Marinate a two-or-three-lb. pork tenderloin overnight in a half-C. each of orange juice and Hoisin sauce, one-quarter C. each of dark molasses and soy sauce, four cloves of minced garlic and dash of salt and pepper. Bake in a roasting pan according to package instructions. Let cool 20 minutes and then roll the meat in toasted sesame seeds before slicing. Serve on a cutting board with sliced baguette or Kaiser rolls.


Turkey-cranberry rolls (instead of cold-cut platter)

Spread thin layer of cream cheese over three to five sheets of Lavash bread (from Trader Joe’s), then top with another layer of cranberry sauce, covering only about half of each sheet. Add over the cranberry sauce a thin layer of shaved turkey. Roll each rectangular sheet beginning at one of the shorter edges. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into one-inch-thick pieces and transfer to large plate garnished with parsley sprigs.


Smoked turkey asparagus (another alternative to plain cold cuts)

Remove the hard bottoms of a dozen or so asparagus spears and discard. Then blanch the spears in boiling water for about four minutes and let cool. Roll each spear in a slice of medium-thick smoked turkey, arrange onto a platter and serve with aioli, hollandaise or plain.

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