Above: Portrait by Fadil Berisha
Photographs: David Malosh
WINNING FORMULA for an HORS D’OEUVRE BUFFET
To feed ten people for two hours, you’ll need about ten bite-sized hors d’oeuvres per guest (a total of 100 pieces). Start with one showstopper that can command the center of the table, and offer no more than three hot items (so you don’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen during the party). Remember to include options to take care of any dietary restrictions (vegetarian, nut-free and gluten-free, for example). Use this formula to estimate the number of servings for a larger crowd.
1 block feta
extra-virgin olive oil
fresh oregano, for serving
A block of feta is an unexpected alternative to a wheel of creamy cheese: Pat dry feta and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Transfer to a small baking dish, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and broil, turning once, until caramelized, 4 to 6 minutes. Top with fresh oregano leaves, red-pepper flakes and more olive oil. Serve with warm pita cut into wedges.
Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms
¾ cup fresh ricotta cheese
freshly ground pepper
10 large fresh basil leaves
1 ball bocconcini (1 ounce), cut into 10 pieces
10 squash blossoms
Safflower oil, for frying
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup fine yellow cornmeal
1. Put ricotta in a fine sieve set over a bowl. Let drain in refrigerator 3 hours or overnight. Discard liquid.
2. Season ricotta with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; stir until smooth. Transfer to a large pastry bag fitted with a coupler. Pipe 1 scant tablespoon ricotta onto each basil leaf, then top with a piece of bocconcini. Fold leaves around cheese and pinch to close. Carefully open squash blossoms and place stuffed basil leaves inside, pressing gently to seal.
3. Heat about 3 inches oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high until it reaches 365°F. Meanwhile, place eggs and cornmeal in separate small bowls. Dip each stuffed blossom into the eggs, then into the cornmeal to coat.
4. Working in batches of 2 to 3, carefully place in hot oil and cook until golden, flipping once, about 45 seconds per side. Transfer to paper towels using a slotted spoon; let drain. Season with salt. Return oil to 365°F between batches. Serve immediately.
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon plus
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave tails intact, if desired)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon whole cloves
¼ teaspoon juniper berries
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1. In a pot, bring 2 quarts water, the Old Bay seasoning, bay leaf and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until just pink and opaque, about 30 seconds; drain.
2. Stir together shrimp and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to an airtight container. Cover tightly; shake to distribute. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving
Make Ahead: Shrimp can be allowed to marinate up to 1 week in the refrigerator; shake to distribute again just before serving.
The domestic diva offers recipes that will wow your guests and leave you plenty of time to enjoy the party.
Martha Stewart’s Appetizers features 200 recipes for dips, spreads, snacks and small plates (plus thirty festive cocktails). Available for pre-order on penguinrandomhouse.com ($27.50), the book will be in stores on September 8 and an e-version can be purchased via Amazon Kindle.