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Tasty ways to ring in new year

Local foods grace chef Tom Geraerdts' New Year's plate of hors d' oeurves. (Linda Smith / For the Enterprise)

Whether you're hosting a New Year's Eve party for friends, attending a party at someone else's home or just spending a quite evening at home with your family, chances are you'll want a few special hors d'oeuvres to munch on while waiting for midnight to ring in 2013. The photo above is one I took at a demonstration Chef Tom Geraerdts presented at Beagle Books during October's Third Thursday Arts Downtown event. Tom used all local foods: a small glass bowl of beef sticks cut into one-inch pieces centered on an attractive serving plate, four cubed cheeses, separated by colorful pickled peppers, green olives with garlic, black olives, raspberries, blackberries and an assortment of fresh flowers tucked in made for a very simple but attractive centerpiece for a party table. As the year winds down, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who read and enjoy my column. Wishing you a safe and Happy New Year!

Smoked Fish Spread

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. salad dressing (e.g. Spin Blend)

2 T. sugar

1/2 t. lemon juice

1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 (1-lb.) smoked whitefish, skinned, boned and shredded

Crackle bread, water crackers or thinly sliced French bread

Combine all ingredients except whitefish and bread; beat until smooth. Fold in whitefish; refrigerate several hours. Serve with bread or crackers. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 cans garbanzo beans

4-5 red bell peppers

1/2 c. tahini paste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 T. ground cumin

Crackers or pita bread

Drain beans, saving a small amount of liquid to thin hummus later. Cut red peppers in half. Roast under broiler about 15 minutes or until very blackened. Put in paper bag and let sit to loosen skins. Peel when cool. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well mixed. Adjust seasonings. Serve with crackers or pita bread cut in wedges and bake until crispy. Note: This makes a large batch, so you may want to make just half the recipe if you're expecting a smaller crowd.

Hot Gouda Cheese

1/2 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls

3 T. Dijon mustard

7 oz. Gouda cheese

1 egg white

1/8 c. sesame seeds or poppy seeds

Flatten crescent rolls, pressing seams together, making a square. Spread with mustard and place the cheese in the center. Pull edges of dough to the top of the cheese and press together. Place cheese in an ovenproof dish, with seams down. Brush lightly with egg white. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve with plain crackers, apple or pear slices. Makes 10-12 wedges.


1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (Rhodes or Pillsbury)

1 egg white

1 lb. mild Italian sausage

1 c. shredded Provolone cheese

1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch of dried basil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of dried rosemary

Roll out bread dough on floured board to thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. In medium skillet, cook sausage and drain. Combine sausage, cheeses, basil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Mix well. Spread over prepared dough. Roll up carefully so loaf resembles French bread. Seal long edge and tuck under ends. Place rolled loaf on greased cookie sheet, seam side down. Glaze with egg white. Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. To serve, cut in slices 3/4-inch thick.

Caribbean Layered Dip

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 c. sour cream

1 T. taco seasoning mix

1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and well rinsed

1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper

1/2 c. chopped mango or mango salsa

1-2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

2 t. finely chopped jalapeño chilies (optional)

Lime-flavored, gold, or plain tortilla chips for serving

In a small bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, mix cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread on 10-inch round serving plate. Top cream cheese mixture with all remaining ingredients, except tortilla chips. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve with chips.

Honey-Roasted Peppered Pecans

1/4 c. honey

2 t. freshly ground black pepper

1 t. salt

1/4 t. allspice

8 oz. pecan halves, about 2 c.

2 T. sugar

Stir together honey, pepper, salt and allspice. Add pecans, tossing to coat well. Spread pecans in one layer in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees in middle of oven for 15 minutes, then stir and bake 5 minutes more. (Watch carefully for over-browning; you may need less time.) Transfer to sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper. Working quickly, separate pecans with a fork while still warm. Cool and store in an airtight container until serving.

Parmesan and Artichoke Dip

1 c. mayonnaise

1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 c. finely chopped green onions

1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and diced

Dash garlic powder

Dash Beau Monde seasoning

Crackers or bread rounds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except crackers; spoon into 1-quart casserole. Bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve with crackers. Makes 2 1/2 cups.