With the upcoming holidays, many of us will be hosting or attending holiday meals. Some of these meals are not just family gatherings but clubs, or civic groups getting together for a holiday get together.
Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle says when hosting a meal, especially around the holidays, offering snacks, hors d'oeuvres, or appetizers that have a wow factor can be stressful. Looking online and through cookbooks with the added pressure of shopping for gifts can lead us to just buying prepared foods and arranging them on a platter. If one takes the time now to gather recipes, not just family favorites, but new ones to add a little excitement, there will be plenty of time for a trial run to make sure the recipe is easy to follow, and most importantly, delicious. It is also important to understand the distinct differences between the three terms, snacks, hors d'oeuvres, and appetizers.
Snack: Eaten before meals usually consisting of chips, dips, fruit, cheese, or vegetable trays. A snack by definition should be a little bit of something tasty to tide one over until meal time.
Hors d'oeuvre: A bite of something delicious. Hors d'oeuvres are served before a meal especially if there is an extended period of time before the meal like a cocktail hour. Hors d'oeuvres can be passed on trays or set out on a table. Hors d'oeuvres are not platters of food but compositions of flavor. For example, a bruschetta with tomatoes, mozzarella, and chopped basil is an hors d'oeuvre; whereas, a platter of cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cubes is a snack. Hors d'oeuvres can also be served at the dinner table. Many times small bites before the meal are called amuse' bouche, which translates as amusing bites.
Appetizer: A small dish served at the table before the main course to stimulate and excite the appetite; many times referred to as the first course. It is easy to distinguish between hors d'oeuvre and appetizer by thinking of it this way: An hors d'oeuvre can be picked up and eaten in one or two bites; whereas, an appetizer requires a fork and small dish.
Typically, the civic or church meals use the traditional dinner concept of potluck. Potluck refers to a gathering of people where everyone provides a dish. The success of the gathering takes a chance that the provided dishes are tasty. Typically, there is an element of competition among the cooks especially around the holidays with cooks and bakers providing their best efforts. These gatherings may occur on a weeknight after work. It is easy to run by the grocery and pick up a container of potato salad, but it isn't very rewarding to plop a spoon in a plastic container and set it on the table. Having a couple tried and true recipes that can be made ahead, served warm or cold, and that have a little pizzazz are always desirable. Half the fun of a potluck is trying new dishes and having a conversation with someone about the ingredients, even trading recipes.
Whether hosting a gathering or attending a meal that may require bringing along a dish won't be a problem if you prepare yourself before the event. Most of the time, we may receive 2-3 get together invites and typically they aren't at the same person's house or venue. Having a few tested recipes on hand to prepare ahead will take the stress out of attending functions. No one will know that you are bringing the same dishes over and over.
These few weeks before Thanksgiving are the perfect time to try out recipes, print them off and have them on hand. Take the time to buy the pantry items and store them in a section of the kitchen where they can be easily found. If something can be made ahead of time, frozen then just reheated, go ahead and do it now. And always, make the recipe and try it out. Sometimes recipes are poorly written, steps are missing, or they just plain don't taste good. This is especially true of online recipes. Do your homework now to eliminate the stress of planning and cooking for guests in the upcoming holiday season.
Baked German Potato Salad Casserole
Makes: 12 servings
8 cups Yukon or red potatoes, boiled, peeled (I don't peel the red ones), and sliced 1/8" thick
8 strips of thick cut bacon, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 TB all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp celery seeds or caraway seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 13" x 9" x 2" glass baking dish with non stick spray. Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Pour off all but ¼ cup of grease (if there isn't that much in skillet, add vegetable oil to reach required amount). Reduce heat to medium and add onion and celery to pan. Saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for 3 additional minutes to remove floury taste.
Meanwhile layer half of the potatoes in prepared pan and crumble half of the bacon over top. Make a second layer of potatoes and crumble remaining bacon over top.
Combine sugar, vinegar, and water, pour over vegetable mixture in pan and whisk to incorporate. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute until thickened. Stir in parsley, celery seeds.
Pour hot dressing slowly over bacon and potatoes so it can soak through to the bottom. Bake uncovered until the middle of the casserole bubbles, about 45 minutes. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.
NOTE: When taking dishes to potluck dinners, make a little flag using a toothpick and a 2" x 3" piece of paper or notecard. Write the name of the dish on the flag to identify it for guests. Highlight whether it is vegetarian, dairy free, low-cal on the flag.
Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen also has a special Holiday Appetizers & Potluck Recipe Booklet available by email. To ask for a complimentary copy, just email Janine Washle at firstname.lastname@example.org
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CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
3720 Mt. Olive Rd.
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.
CloverFields Farm is dedicated to the preservation of southern, especially Kentucky, food traditions. The kitchen is commercially-outfitted compliant with Health Department standards. In this kitchen I develop new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from my culinary research, and most often according to what is in season.
On the farm, they make many gifts and specialty items. She is currently working on her first cookbook, but she also has a long resume developing recipes for several companies. She has also won several contests and cook-offs with her original recipes.