Today’s get-togethers demand no-fuss party foods that are as easy to make as they are delicious. What better expert than lifestyle guru Martha Stewart to put together a definitive guide to entertaining? In her latest, Martha Stewart’s Appetizers, she shares more than 200 recipes for pre-dinner bites, small plates, finger foods, and bar snacks.
Below is an exclusive peek at three of our favorite recipes from the new book. If you’re loving the dishes you see here, then be sure to join us at your local store on Wednesday, September 16 for our latest cookbook club event, where you’ll learn cooking techniques and enjoy a tasting of recipes from the cookbook prepared while you watch. Get in touch with your local store for more details.
Burrata with Hot Pickled Peppers
It may look like an ordinary ball of fresh mozzarella, but burrata—“buttery” in Italian—boasts a wonderful rich interior of mozzarella blended with cream. It’s the starting point for a dish that’s luscious and almost too easy to be true, especially if you opt to use the pickled hot cherries from a jar instead of making your own (though that takes mere minutes to do, and can be finished well in advance).
1 pound hot cherry peppers, washed well and dried
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups white-wine vinegar (at least 5 percent acidity)
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 balls (8 ounces each) burrata cheese, room temperature
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Baguette or other rustic bread, for serving
Trim cherry pepper stems. Combine peppers, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a heatproof nonreactive container.
Bring vinegar, 3/4 cup water, the sugar, and salt to simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Pour hot pickling liquid over peppers. Let cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container at least 1 hour and up to 1 month.
Place burrata in a dish, and break it open with a spoon. Drizzle with oil. Top with a few pickled peppers (break some in half, if desired) and serve with bread.
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip
The dip can be refrigerated, covered, up to 3 days; top with shallots just before serving. Fried shallots will keep up to 1 week at room temperature in an airtight container.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds yellow onions (about 8 large), halved and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 ounces bacon, chopped
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
Safflower oil, for frying
4 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
Heat olive oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high until hot but not smoking. Cook sliced onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Cover; reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, about 40 minutes.
Raise heat to medium, and season onions with salt. Stir in vinegar; simmer until mixture is dry. Stir in thyme; remove from heat. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop onions.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a small skillet, stirring occasionally, until fat has been rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
Beat cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Fold in sour cream and caramelized onions; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour.
Heat ¼ inch safflower oil in a small sauté pan over medium until shimmering. Working in 3 batches, fry shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt. Garnish dip with shallots and serve.
When is a ham-and-cheese sandwich much, much more than a ham-and-cheese sandwich? When it’s the French classic that layers thin white bread (we used baguette-like ficelle) with béchamel sauce, thinly sliced ham, and Gruyere. These mini open-faced croques deliver all the deliciousness of the full-size version.
1 ficelle or thin baguette, cut into 40 slices (1/4 inch thick)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
6 ounces thinly sliced ham, cut into 40 (1-inch wide) strips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Heat broiler with a rack 6 inches from heat source. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture turns light golden, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook, whisking frequently, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and hold a line drawn by your finger, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in mustard and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until melted and smooth.
Arrange toasted bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Dividing evenly, spread béchamel on toasts; top with a slice of ham and then sprinkle with remaining ¾ cup cheese. Broil until sauce is bubbly and cheese is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm.
Reprinted from MARTHA STEWART’S APPETIZERS: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors D’Oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails. Copyright © 2015 by Martha Stewart. Photos by David Malosh. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.