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Everything old is new again

Classic holiday party favorites never go out of style

By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / December 15, 2010

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Waiters are passing trays of Chinese spoons filled with savory tastes, the mini-est one-bite tartlets, extravagant caviar. Eat a dozen of these morsels at a party and nothing sticks to the ribs. Whatever happened to rumaki and pigs in a blanket? When balsamic vinegar and imported French cheeses became popular, chicken livers wrapped in bacon or tiny hot dogs in biscuit dough were banished from the cocktail table. Gussy up these old-fashioned favorites. Wrap a Medjool date with a thick piece of smoky bacon, as we’ve been doing lately, or bake an all-beef dog in crisp pie pastry. Those are easy enough. We took 10 more classics into the kitchen to give them a modern touch, but leave their homey qualities intact. For onion dip, lose that package of soup and caramelize plenty of shallots. Roll cream cheese, butter, cheddar, and roasted peppers into a ball, and dust the sphere with toasted pecans. Stir spices into Swedish meatballs, twist commercial puff pastry with shredded cheese into flaky sticks, add a little cream cheese and scallions to a centuries-old recipe for potted shrimp, and bring out that fancy French Gruyere for cheese puffs. These hors d’oeuvres are immensely satisfying, though some aren’t particularly pretty. Hosts turned to spoons for presentation for a reason. But there’s plenty to fill you up and lots to make you smile.