Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hors d'Oeuvres ~ Smoked Sprats, Ajvar and Laughing Cow Crème Swiss Cheese on Sesame Rye Rusk

     Party Hors d'Oeuvres!
     What is a Canapé and what is an Hors d'Oeuvre?   The word Canapé literally translates to "couch" and the word Couch refers to petite bite size piece of bread, toast or any small edible platform that a tiny portion of food sits upon.  The culinary definition of the word Canapé is a petite portion appetizer that can be eaten with just one bite.  If it takes two bites to comfortably eat an entire Canapé, then the item is too big to be called a Canapé!
      The definition of Hors d'Oeuvre is a small food item that can be eaten without the aid of cutlery tools.  Hors d'Oeuvres can be eaten with fingers or they can be held with toothpicks or skewers.  Hors d'Oeuvres should be small enough to be eaten with just a few bites or one bite.  A Canapé that is too large to be comfortably eaten with just one bite can be called Hors d'Oeuvre.
     Traditionally, Hors d'Oeuvres are petite appetizers that are meant to wet the palate.  During a multi course formal dinner, Hors d'Oeuvres are offered like Amuse Bouche before the meal or they are offered before the main course.
     Hors d'Oeuvres are also traditionally served at banquet events or cocktail parties.  Platters of Hors d'Oeuvres can be hand passed by the service staff to create an air of elegance during a social event.  Hors d'Oeuvres can also be offered banquet style, by placing Hors d'Oeuvre Platters on a common table and letting guests serve themselves.
     No matter whether the Hors d'Oeuvres are hand passed or whether guests serve themselves, the design of each appetizer item should have eye appeal.  How the Hors d'Oeuvres are arranged on a platter should look nice too.
     Piling food on big trays and telling guests to make their own appetizer combinations can be likened to filling a hog trough.  Very little skill is involved with "assemble your own style party food."  Often the guests make more of a mess than what the minimal effort in the kitchen is worth.
     Instead of offering piles of toast, soft cheese, pickles, flavored spreads and a variety of petite bits of meat or fish on separate platters and telling the guests to make their own stuff, why not take the opportunity to show off some creative ability.  Act like a chef and make some eye catching Hors d'Oeuvres!  The guests will be impressed and there will be less of a mess.  The guests will also be prone to putting on some social grace when the tasty nice looking Hors d'Oeuvres are served.

     There are some strategies to think about when designing Hors d'Oeuvres for party guests.  The object to design food that the guests will like.  Not everybody likes smoked eel, sardines or sprats, but some people do.   When making specialty items that not everybody likes, it is best to only make a few.  For example, for a cocktail party of 12 guests, a making 8 of today's Sprat Hors d'Oeuvre is probably more than enough.  If the guests turn out to like Sprat Hors d'Oeuvres, then it is easy to make more if the ingredients are on hand.  
     Sprats are not sardines, herring or anchovies.  Sprats are a different species of fish.  Sprats have a unique flavor of their own.  Canned Sprats are usually lightly smoked and packed in oil.  Oddly enough, even people that do not really care for fish often will like the flavor of Smoked Sprats.
     Laughing Cow (La Vache Qui Rit) is a famous French brand of processed cheese.  The Laughing Cow brand is made by the French Bel Cheese Company.  Laughing Cow is a soft spreadable processed cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk cheese.  Laughing Cow Processed Cheese is low in calories and it was once featured in the famous Miami Diet Plan.
     A few different flavors of Laughing Cow Cheese are available at nearly every grocery store.  Laughing Cow Spreadable Swiss Cheese tastes good with Smoked Sprats. 
     Petite slices of rusk are nice for making Hors d'Oeuvres.  Rusk is a twice-baked crisp toasted bread or dry crisp biscuit.  Rusk slices can be any size, but for Hors d'Oeuvres, the smaller the better.
     I purchased a package of thin sliced small Rye and Sesame Rusk for today's recipe.  This Rusk was imported from Slovenia and Marco Polo was the brand name.  Packages of hors d'oeuvre size fancy Rusk can be found in Greek delicatessens and Eastern European food markets.  Jars of Ajvar (vegetable spread) can also be found in the same markets.
     Hors d'Oeuvres ~ Smoked Sprats, Ajvar and Laughing Cow Crème Swiss Cheese on Sesame Rye Rusk:
     Each Hors d'Oeuvres should feature the main ingredients that are mentioned in the title of the recipe.  The main ingredients are Smoked Sprats, Ajvar, Laughing Cow Crème Swiss Cheese on Golden Sesame Rye Rusk.  
     Anything else that is placed on each Hors d'Oeuvre is an optional garnish.  Any garnish that adds color or any garnish that compliments the flavor of the featured ingredients can be used.  Not every Hors d'Oeuvre has to be garnished the same way.  Variety is the spice of life!           
     Step 1:  *Canned smoked sprats must be handled gently or they will break apart. 
     Gently invert an open can of lightly smoked sprats onto a dish.
     Tap the dish against a countertop, so the sprats loosen, then remove the empty can.  
     Carefully separate the sprats without damaging them.
     Count the sprats.  There is usually 8 sprats in a can.  For every sprat in the can, you will need one slice of rusk.     
     Step 2:  Place 8 golden rye and sesame rusk slices on a counter top.
     Spread a thin layer of Laughing Cow Soft Crème Swiss Cheese on each slice of rusk.  (The soft sticky processed cheese actually will hold the rest of the ingredients like glue!)
     Step 3:  Place any garnishes that are heavier or bulkier than a sprat on the cheese.
     - thin sliced of plum tomato
     - thin sliced of artichoke heart wedges
     Step 4:  Place 1 pinch of chiffonade cut leafy herb or lettuce on the cheese to add color.  (chiffonade = thin ribbons)  
     Step 5:  Place 1 Smoked Sprat on each Hors d'Oeuvre.  (Try to place them so they all sit at the same angle.)
     Step 6:  Place a small dollop of ajvar on each sprat.  (About 1/2 teaspoon.)
     Garnish each dollop of ajvar with a thin slice of Pickled Greek Yellow Fefferoni (Greek Yellow Pepper).
     Step 7:  Arrange the Hors d'Oeuvres on a serving platter so they look nice.
     Garnish the platter with assorted Greek olives.

     Voila!  A healthy Mediterranean style Smoked Sprat Hors d'Oeuvre Party Platter!

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