November 10, 2000


Harvest Time Entertaining

 

QUICK & EASY IDEAS

Autumn entertaining can be a great opportunity to bring a delicate blend of seasonal tastes and textures to your fall table without a lot of fuss. Chicken Waldorf Snackers combine the crunchy texture of walnuts and Melba Snacks with the sweetness of fresh apples. Blue Cheese and Pear Toast hors d'oeuvres make an elegant unison of pear and soft cheese with a Melba Toast crunch. Both dishes work well as appetizers for a dinner party or as light fare for a small get-together.

Be sure to include walnuts on your table as well. They have the perfect fall season taste and texture-and they're versatile. You can add them to salads or use as the main ingredient in entrees or desserts. Mushroom, Walnut and Olive Toasts make a tasty appetizer. Serve Turkish Spiced Walnuts for an exotic, flavorful treat.

To complement the flavor of all your cuisine, be sure to serve a variety of wines. It's the beverage of choice for entertaining. And you certainly don't need to be an expert to choose a great wine. The days of pairing red wine and red meat, white wine and fish are over. Step outside the rules, let your own taste be the guide, and you'll discover how wine enhances the flavors of whatever food you're serving.

Whether you decide on a buffet or a casual sit-down dinner, fall decorations on your table combined with the flavors of autumn create an event both delicious and memorable. Cheers!

 

6 SHORTCUTS TO ENTERTAINING WITH WINE

Keep a supply of your `house wines' on hand for impromptu gatherings. When you discover wines you particularly like, stock a few extra bottles to open whenever friends drop in.

Your guests may get to taste something new and you won't have to rush out to shop. You don't need a wine cellar to store bottles you'll be drinking within the next year or so. Just keep them in a cool place away from direct sunlight such as the kitchen pantry or hall closet.

Have fun with favorite wine flavors-Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These wine varietals are crowd-pleasers, so experiment with ones from a region or winery that is new to you.

Quick wine calculation. A standard 750 ml bottle of wine has five glasses. To estimate how much wine you'll need, plan on two glasses of wine per person for most occasions.

Need to chill a bottle of white wine to serve in a hurry? Immerse it in a 50/50 combination of ice and water. It will be ready to sip in about twenty minutes instead of the hour or so it takes to chill wine in the refrigerator.

The glasses you have are the glasses to use. You don't need special stemware to enjoy wine; your everyday wine glasses, tumblers or colorful, outdoor glasses are great for casual entertaining.

Leftover wine stays fresh for days! Don't worry about having wine left over after your guests have gone home. An opened bottle of wine will stay fresh and delicious for 3-4 days when recorked. Keep whites in the refrigerator. Keep reds on a counter away from heat. If you've tossed the cork, an inexpensive bottle stopper or even some plastic wrap secured with a rubber band will do.

Blue Cheese and Pear Toasts

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (2 oz.) crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbsp. milk
2 small pears, thinly sliced
Old London Melba Toasts (approx. 1 1/2 boxes)

In small bowl stir cream cheese, blue cheese and milk until blended. Spread cheese mixture on Melba Toasts. Top with pear slices.

Makes about 1 1/3 cups or 40 Toasts

 

Mushroom, Walnut and Olive Toasts

3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups shelled, toasted Diamond Walnuts, chopped (5 oz.)
1/2 cup pitted calamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 Tbsp. minced thyme
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Saut, onions in oil over medium heat until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Pour in wine and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl combine walnuts, olives, parsley, green onions and thyme. Add cooled mushroom mixture and cream cheese and stir until combined. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serve with Old London Melba Toast or Snacks.

Makes 4 cups

 

Chicken Waldorf Snackers

1/2 cup mayonnaise or light mayonnaise
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, cooked chicken or turkey
1 medium apple, cored and diced
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup shelled, chopped Diamond Walnuts
Old London Melba Snacks (approx. 1 box)

In medium bowl combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and sugar. Stir in chicken or turkey, apple, celery and walnuts. Spoon 1 Tbsp. mixture onto Melba Snacks.

Makes about 48 Snacks

 

Turkish Spiced Walnuts

3 Tbsp. oil
6 green onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
1 lb. Diamond Walnut Halves, shelled and toasted

Warm oil in medium saut, pan over medium heat. While stirring, add onions and garlic. Then add cumin, cinnamon, sugar, salt, allspice, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Immediately add walnuts and stir until they are completely coated. Increase heat and continue cooking until all the water has evaporated and the walnuts are dry. Remove from heat and spread onto baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper and allow to cool.

For an extra flavor, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and add to your favorite salad or sprinkle over Asian noodles.

Makes 8 1/2-cup servings

For further information visit these Web sites:

Diamond Walnuts at www.diamondofcalifornia.com
Wine Market Council at www.wineanswers.com
Old London at www.oldlondonmelba.com
 
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