Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

Not long ago I wrote about retro cocktail parties and shared some recipes for a few  classic cocktails. Several readers asked, with all due sincerity: What type of appetizers does one serve when hosting an old school cocktail party?

For those of you who are young and perhaps didn’t come of age watching parents host cocktail parties (I didn’t) – or come of age reading old cookbooks (I did) – there are myriad options. Classics include Angels on Horseback (made with scallops rather than oysters wrapped in bacon), Swedish Meatballs,  Angelic Stuffed Eggs, or these classic Spinach Parmesan Crostini

Spinach Parmesan Crostini | An Alaskan Cooks

I believe that having a few classic appetizer recipes on hand is just as important as knowing what goes into crafting traditional cocktails. While some of what I wrote about cocktail parties was tongue-in-cheek, I actually do, on occasion, enjoy a fancy drink served in a martini glass in lieu of a glass of lovely wine. I also confess that I enjoy playing dress-up at times. It’s fun to ditch the denim and classic rock, dig out my little black dress, put on a pearl necklace, and swoon to old Sinatra tunes. Ahhh, Old Blue Eyes … he was always my mother’s favorite. But I digress.

Back in the 1960s the word “crostini” was unfamiliar to most of Middle America. The term is still not known to everyone, but back during the early Viet Nam era this appetizer likely would have been referred to simply as Spinach Dip on Toast. I think the name “Spinach Parmesan Crostini” sounds a bit more elegant and, in my opinion, elegance and glam are part of the very foundation of a retro-style cocktail party. Oui?

You can, of course, serve these crostini with wine or beer while wearing denim and flannel — but I think they taste best while wearing pearls.

Spinach Parmesan Crostini

This is the made-from-scratch version of my recipe. For those who get a bit faint of heart when reading multiple steps, I’ve included several short-cuts in a section below that will allow you to make a “semi-home made” version of this recipe. By doing so, please do not in any way confuse me with the rather ditzy blond woman from the Food Network who throws dishes together using only short-cuts and then has the audacity to call it “cooking.”


1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach
1/4 cup water
1  egg yolk
2  cloves garlic, finely minced (more…)


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Regardless of one’s religion, spring is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal, and nothing shouts “spring” to me like beautiful decorated eggs.

When I was a child growing up in the Midwest, my mother would hard boil vast cauldrons of eggs in the week leading up to Easter. Once the eggs cooled we’d drizzle vinegar into coffee cups filled with boiling water, add a few precious drops of food coloring, and then carefully dip in the eggs using teaspoons. For variety, sometimes we’d use crayons to write or draw on the eggs before coloring them. Trust me, we’re talking basic, home-spun creations, not decorator eggs. Eggs should never be too pretty to hide — hiding is eggs’ raison d’être.

The home-spun look belies the flavor of these Angelic Deviled Eggs

I still remember the thrill of being a small child filled with serious determination, hunting for the egg creations after my mom hid them. It was extremely important to find all of the eggs, especially when inclement weather forced the hunt indoors. Why? Mom usually forgot where she hid the eggs. If we didn’t find all of them, there would be serious repercussions a few weeks later when nature inevitably took her biodegradable course.

Egg hunts back in Nebraska were nothing like those here in Alaska. Real spring comes far later than in other parts of the country, but people here see themselves as tougher and hardier than folks Outside. Halloween costumes are designed to fit over snowsuits and boots. Easter egg hunts take place outdoors. Don’t even think about moving an egg hunt indoors – no matter the weather – it simply isn’t done. That means Easter egg hunts in Alaska are fraught with a different set of risks than you’ll find in any other part of the country.

A few years back the snow at a local park was so deep that children were stuck waist-deep hunting for eggs. Several kids were reported missing and police were dispatched to try to round them up. That was before a 1,500 pound bull moose (more…)

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