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Home Plate: Happy New Year!

 It’s soon to be New Year’s Eve and Day and that calls for a cornucopia of hors d’oeuvres for celebration. Happy New Year!

Ceviche  (This is a recipe we first sampled in Mexico and my husband subsequently found in an African hunting magazine. It’s earned raves ever since)  Approximately 2 pounds fresh fileted bass  4-6 ounces smoked salmon, thinly sliced across the grain  1 medium to large onion halved and thinly sliced  6 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed  1 tablespoon salt  2-3 tablespoons jalepeños (or to taste)  2 large bunches of cilantro, finely chopped, including some stems  ½ to ¾ cup lemon or lime juice  2 tablespoons olive oil  2 pinches of sugar  Freshly ground pepper  Mix all the ingredients together and allow to marinate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 to 48 hours.  The fish “cooks” in the acetic mix and becomes white and firm. Serve with crackers.

Bacon and Liver Appetizers  ¾ cup chicken livers  2 hard-cooked eggs  2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature  1 teaspoon cognac, optional  ½ teaspoon lemon juice  Chopped chives or finely grated onion to taste  Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste  8 slices of bacon, cut in half  Cook the chicken livers in a small amount of boiling, salted water until barely done, 5 to 8 minutes.  Rub the livers and hard-cooked eggs through a fine sieve or use a food mill. Blend well and mix with the remaining ingredients, except bacon. Chill.  Spread the mixture on the strips of bacon. Roll and fasten with toothpicks. Grill under a preheated broiler until the bacon is crisp. Serve hot.

Sweet and Sour Potluck Meatballs  1½ pounds ground pork  ½ cup fresh bread crumbs or panko  1/3 cup finely chopped peanuts  1 large egg  1 cup finely minced cilantro, including stems  4 scallions, white and green parts, minced  2 medium carrots, finely grated  3 tablespoons soy sauce  Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper  1 tablespoon canola oil  2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger  1 (28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes (2 ½ cups crushed) with juice  ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar  1 ½ teaspoons hot chile sauce, such as Sriracha, or more to taste  1 tablespoon fish sauce  3 tablespoons fresh lime juice  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the pork, bread crumbs, egg cilantro, scallions, carrots, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Mix quickly with your hands to incorporate.  Using about 1 rounded tablespoon of meat mixture for each, roll 45 small meatballs, lining them up on a baking sheet with a little room between them. Bake the meatballs until the tops turn golden, 15 minutes.  Pour the whole tomatoes and their juices into a food processor and process until smooth. In a wide-bottomed non-reactive skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, ¾ cup water, brown sugar, chile sauce, remaining 2tablespoons soy sauce and the fish sauce. Simmer, stirring often, and scraping the sides, until the sauce has reduced by about half, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice and season with salt.  Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook, stirring often, over medium high heat until the meatballs are glazed with the sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. (At this point, you can keep the meatballs warm in a crockpot.)  Serve on toothpicks.  (From Amy Thielen’s “The New Midwestern Table,” Clarkson Potter publishers)   Buffalo Wings  ¾ cup cider vinegar  ¼ cup lemon juice  2 tablespoons vegetable oil  1 tablespoon Worcestershire  1 tablespoon minced garlic  1 to 2 teaspoons (or more) Louisiana hot sauce or Sriracha  2 tablespoons sugar  1 teaspoon ground cumin  1 teaspoon celery salt  1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper  ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper  4 pounds chicken wing drummettes  1 jumbo zipper closure food storage bag  Blue cheese dip   In a large bowl, combine vinegar, lemon juice, oil, Worcestershire, garlic hot sauce sugar, cumin, celery salt and peppers. Rinse chicken; drain and pat dry.  Place chicken in food storage bag, pour marinade over the chicken; seal bag. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray broiler pan rack with no-stick spray. Arrange drained chicken wings on rack. Bake until browned and cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with blue cheese dip.

Classic Blue Cheese Dip  1 cup sour cream  ½ cup heavy cream  4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature   ¼ cup finely chopped onions  1 tablespoon minced garlic  1 teaspoon hot sauce  1 teaspoon salt  1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper  ¼ cup finely chopped parsley  8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled  Combine all the dip ingredients except blue cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the crumbled cheese. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl, cover and chill for at least one hour or for up to three days before serving.  Serve with buffalo wings and fresh veggies, such as celery and carrots and cherry tomatoes.

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