December 17, 2012

little bites

Nibbles ....and more

My Aunt Jane loved to throw parties. A bourbon drinking, chain smoking, pearl draped, buxom woman, she rose late (by my mother's standards), around 10:00, took a long, rose-scented bath, donned a loose, flowered "house dress" and, in the sunny kitchen alcove, sipped coffee and finished the crossword puzzle. Those mornings I biked over, she'd offer me chocolate, dark bitter-sweet chunks. On a square white pad, she'd sketch out a menu for her next party, and oh, those plans were grand, several courses each with a different wine. But on the morning of that big big night, she'd leave the pad behind,  and race to King's Market grab "some of this and some of that" then she'd scrub, vacuum, polish, set the table and arrange flowers. Before sunset, she'd fashion a feast far different than what she'd first had in mind -- poached salmon instead of a roast beaf; or rosemary marinated lamb instead of a crown roast of pork. The woman could cook. About fifteen minutes before the guests arrived, she'd pour herself a juice glass of bourbon (neat), light another cigarette, put her feet up on the kitchen chair, and, with Cheshire smile, she'd say, "Now who in the hell invited all these goddamned people anyway?" 

I learned from Aunt Jane, that planning is fun, but there's really no reason to stick to the plan. Thinking too far ahead always confuses me. It takes just a few little plates to make a party with a little help from my friends.

Stuffed Fingerling Potatoes
Makes 6 bites

6 Russian Fingerling or small red potatoes
1/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces smoked salmon, diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with about an inch of cold water and add about 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Cut a pocket in each potato and fill with the sour cream, smoked salmon and then sprinkle with the parsley.

Sausage Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Makes 12 small bites

12 white mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
1 large Italian sausage, cut into 12 rings
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the mushroom caps on a baking sheet and put the sausage in the center of each cap. Bake the mushrooms until the sausage is fully cooked and no longer pink, about 20 minutes. Brush the top of each cap with just a little maple syrup. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve warm.


  1. I should take a page out of Aunt Jane's book! Love the spontaneity.

    1. She was "a piece of work" -- think Joan Rivers cooks!