Fancy Appetizers Made Easy

I know you've barely digested your Christmas cookies and probably can't even think about more entertaining, but it just so happens that my favorite holiday of the year is in just a few days. New Year's Eve always represents a new beginning for me - a chance to refresh those resolutions and start anew. It's also a huge cooking evening for me because I do an elaborate multi course dinner for pairing wines with each course. This year I'll serve sixteen people nine courses to ring in 2009 - check the blog for details next week!

Entertaining doesn't need to be that complex, however, and these are two of my favorite party foods served in innovative yet easy ways to feed a crowd. The Shrimp Ceviche above uses wonton wrappers as cups - just press them into mini muffin tins, spray with cooking spray, and bake until golden brown. The Tuna Tartare uses Asian soup spoons to carry the perfect single bite. These can be found at restaurant supply stores and home goods stores.
Shrimp "Ceviche" in Wonton Cups
Serves 30

3 limes, juiced, peels reserved
1 pound small shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
1/2 cup jicama, finely diced
salt, to taste
1 avocado, diced small
30 wonton wrapper
In a large stockpot, bring 1 quart salted water to a boil. Add lime peels and then add shrimp, cover, and cook just until shrimp begin to turn pink and curl up. Immediately remove from heat and drain. Spread out shrimp completely to cool slightly, then cut into small pieces and toss with lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, press egg roll wrappers into petite muffin tin cups and bake at 350 degrees until crisp and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Add to shrimp to a large bowl along with onion, cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, olive oil, cucumber and jicama. Mix gently, taste and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate up to a few hours, or serve immediately. To serve, spoon a small amount of the ceviche mixture into a wonton cup and garnish with a scant teaspoon of guacamole.
Tuna Tartare
Serves 20

1/2 pound tuna, sushi quality, cut into small cubes
1/2 avocados, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper, to taste

Place tuna, avocado, and red onion in a large bowl. In a small covered container, toss together vinegar, soy sauce, canola oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper, then pour dressing over tuna and toss lightly to coat well. Refrigerate tuna tartare until ready to serve. Just before party, place a small spoonful of tuna tartare into Asian soup spoons and serve immediately.

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