Peg's perfect small bite appetizer ideas

2:04 PM, Nov 26, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Now that the holiday's are here...there will be some serious demands on many of our culinary skills.

Some good news. Food for the holidays doesn't have to be fussy. Peg Rasmussen, of Peg's Countryside Café and Catering in Hamel, has these delicious and tasty ideas for small bites.

Red Onion Marmalade
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions - very thinly sliced
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp dark rum
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup dry red wine
½ tsp salt

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan and add the onion cooking on medium until they are translucent.
2. Add rum and cook to reduce the liquid.
3. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
4. Add mixture to the onion and cook until the liquid is almost completely reduced. Remove from heat and cool.

Pesto, Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Torte

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, loosely packed
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach, loosely packed
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
¼ cup virgin olive oil
4 ounces (1 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Fresh ground pepper

8 oz cream cheese softened
4 oz goat cheese, softened
¼ cup softened butter
2 Tsp Vermouth
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil (drain, pat dry and mince)
¼ cup finely chopped pine nuts

Thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts


Chop basil, spinach and garlic in the food processor. While the machine is running gradually add the olive oil and parmesan and process until smooth -- Season with pepper and chill.

Blend the cream cheese and goat cheese until smooth.

This is a layered presentation; I use a 6" spring form pan but a 3 cup container of any kind would be fine. Line the container with plastic wrap, leaving a 4 " overhang and then layer the ingredients. Chill in the freezer between layers to get a crisp look with clean edges.. The layers are cream cheese, pesto, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts, then repeat. Chill the finished Torte well. If you used a container, unfold the plastic wrap and invert onto a serving plate 30 minutes before serving, then decorate the top with the remaining sun-dried tomato slices and a few toasted pine nuts.

It holds well at room temperature and tastes fabulous. Serve with assorted crackers.

Rhubarb Gelato with Vanilla Wafer and Candied Kiwi
Rhubarb Gelato
3 cup chopped rhubarb
½ cup water
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp orange zest
2 ¼ cups whole milk
½ cup Muscat dessert wine

3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 cup gelatin
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup dry milk

1. In a heavy bottom pan add rhubarb, water, balsamic and orange zest and cook over medium heat till rhubarb is very tender.
2. Transfer mixture to a food processor and chop till pureed. Strain and set aside.
3. In a separate pan add Muscat dessert wine and reduce by half and then add whole milk and light corn syrup and heat through (do not boil)
4. In separate bowl mix together gelatin, both white and brown sugar and the dry milk
5. Slowly add dry mixture and stir till fully incorporated.
6. Fold in rhubarb puree and mix till just combined
7. Transfer to a freezer bag and place in the freezer.
8. Remove once an hour and stir to insure a smooth creamy texture

Candied Kiwi

4 Kiwi
1 qt Water
1 qt +1 cup Granulated Sugar  


1. Peel kiwi slice and cut each slice into fourths
2. Add the 1qt water and 1 qt sugar together in a heavy bottom pan and stir till sugar is completely dissolved
3. Add kiwi pieces and place over medium heat and bring to a simmer
4. Simmer for about one hour (do not stir during this time)
5. Remove kiwi, strain and roll kiwi in remaining sugar,
6. Shake off excess sugar and place on a drying rack till cool


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