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Appetizers in Eichlerville
Appetizer Spreads
Fresh cracked PepperIf you're really short on time and can't assemble hundreds of canapés this "self-serve" solution is an easy crowd-pleaser. Simply place a bowl of tasty spread in the center of a tray of vegetables or crackers and a knife (if needed) for spreading. It's easy, informal and fun to have your guests make their own snacks. In the ‘50s this might have meant sour cream and onion soup mix dip surrounded by potato chips (which, despite the ridicule it receives today, will still be one of the first bowls wiped clean). Happily, there are many contemporary alternatives to this classic. For starters, I like to serve most dips and spreads with raw vegetables instead of crackers or chips, especially if you are also serving canapés or other bready snacks. This isn't a health-conscious choice (the ingredients in most dips already assure that these aren't for calorie counters) it's just a matter of providing contrast and interest between the texture and quality of the fare.

Pink Horseradish Dip
Mix 2 cups of crème fraiche with 2 tbsp. beet horseradish, 1 tsp. prepared horseradish, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, 1 tbsp. chopped scallion and ¼ tsp. salt.  The beet horseradish (a mixture of beets and prepared white horseradish available pre-made in stores) gives this dip a delightful pink color that looks best served with a striking green vegetable for dipping. If sugar peas are in season, blanch about 2 pounds in boiling wappetizer bookater for one minute, drain and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly and keep refrigerated. At serving time, arrange the chilled peas on a platter like spokes around the center bowl of pink horseradish dip.

Roquefort Spread
This dip hearkens straight back to the days when any blue cheese was called Roquefort. It's definitely not necessary to use the real thing but I keep the name for its period appeal. Soften ½ cup blue cheese, ¼ cup cream cheese; blend with 2 tbsp. mayonnaise, ¼ to 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, and minced onion and lemon juice to taste. This is a great accompaniment to cauliflower florets.

Shrimp Cocktail
This appetizer is about as easy as it gets. Simply place a bowl of Cocktail Sauce (you can buy this pre-made) in the center of a serving plate. Surround with large, cooked, cleaned shrimp on wooden picks. For a fresher and lovelier presentation, place the shrimp and bowl of sauce atop a large punch bowl full of ice.

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