Tidbits Review Sips and Apps
Sips & Apps – Kathy Casey (Raincoast Books) $25.95
This is a very cute book. At 204 pages, it fits into the palm of the hand and is packed full of cocktail and appetizer recipes. The introduction covers everything from detailed information on ingredients to how to equip the home bar to techniques and tricks. If you’ve ever wondered what to serve your guests that’s tasty and different from what you’ve already encountered and everyone else’s parties, this book is your answer.
The drinks range from the creative to the classic. There’s even a chapter on non-alcoholic cocktails that the author invented for her restauranteur friends who wanted a delicious late-night, after work drink that would also leave them clear-headed. Both the cocktail and appetizer recipes range from the simple to the complex allowing you to pick and choose depending on the ingredients you have available, time and inclination.
The Tuscan Rosemary Lemon Drop cocktail I made was surprising in its combination of rosemary, vodka and limoncello. And, I must say the idea of rimming the martini glass with rosemary sugar left me scratching my head. Rosemary leaves in my drink?
It would be like chewing on a pine tree. But, once the rosemary leaves had been finely minced, dried and mixed with sugar, all you taste is wonderful sweet and pungent woodsy pine.
The Sicilian Mini Meatballs were also a hit. Easy and quick to make, my party guests loved these moist and tasty morsels. The sauce, in particular, was made up of an unusual mixture of pine nuts, raisins, tomato and wine. These mini meatballs make a fantastic alternative to the usual Swiss meatballs in sweet and sour sauce that have been the mainstay at many a party for way too long. Do yourself and your guests a favour and give these a try.
Sicilian Mini Meatballs
Makes about 56 Make these up to 4 days in advance, cover with the sauce and reheat them right before serving. Be sure to accompany them with small slices of rustic bread for dipping.
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 (15 oz) jar tomato sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 lbs ground veal
2 Tbsp shallot, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp basil, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp whole milk
3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Basil leaves for garnish
1. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in white wine for 10 minutes.
2. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Sauté the onion and pine nuts for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and diced tomato and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the soaked raisins, with any unabsorbed wine, and bring to a boil for 1 minutes.
3. Add the tomato sauce and salt, bring to a simmer, and cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until saucy. If the sauce gets too thick, add a touch of water. Keep warm. If making ahead, cook, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, or lightly oil it, and set aside.
2. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mixt thoroughly. Scoop up level tablespoon-sized portions and shape into small balls. Place the meatballs, spaced apart, on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
Spoon half the sauce into a baking dish or platter. Add the hot meatballs, then spoon the remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle with basil leaves.
Tuscan Rosemary Lemon Drop
Makes 1 drink
Rosemary Sugar (recipe below)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1-1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz limoncello
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Fresh rosemary sprig for garnish
1. Rim a large martini glass with rosemary sugar, and set aside.
2. Bend 1 rosemary sprig and drop into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice. Measure in the vodka, limoncello, lemon juice and simple syrup. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into the sugar-rimmed glass. Float a rosemary sprig in the drink for garnish.
Makes 1 cup
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup superfine or baker’s sugar
1. Mix the rosemary and sugar together in a small bowl, and spread the misture on a rimmed baking sheet. Set in a warm, dry place for about 4 days, until the rosemary is completely dried.
2. Process in a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 month at room temperature.