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Easy, Delicious Holiday Party Foods

If you've decided to throw a holiday party, have no fear: the folks at Gourmet magazine have some amazingly simple and delicious recipes for you, so you can invite your friends over, turn on some fun holiday music, and actually enjoy your own soiree!

Gourmet's executive editor, John "Doc" Willoughby, shared the recipes on The Early Show Wednesday.

So, put on your party clothes, roll out these elegant but unfussy dishes, and be prepared to have a good time!


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Grilled Cheese with Mushrooms

Creamy Italian Fontina, earthy mushrooms, and a dash of truffle oil transform a childhood favorite into elegant little sandwiches.
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb chilled Italian Fontina, rind discarded and cheese coarsely grated (2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
16 very thin slices firm white sandwich bread
About 1/2 teaspoon white-truffle oil (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then cook mushrooms with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add wine and boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Cool mushrooms to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Toss mushrooms with cheese and parsley in a bowl. Divide cheese mixture among 8 slices of bread (a scant 1/2 cup per slice), spreading evenly, then top with remaining 8 slices. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in cleaned skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook 2 sandwiches, without turning over, until undersides are browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer sandwiches to a cutting board. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in skillet until foam subsides, then return sandwiches, browned sides up, to skillet and cook until undersides are browned, about 3 minutes more, transferring back to cutting board as cooked. Make 3 more batches in same manner. Trim off crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. Top each triangle with a drop of truffle oil (if using). Cooks' note: sandwiches can be assembled (but not cooked) 3 hours ahead and chilled, stacked and wrapped in plastic wrap.

Makes 32 hors d'oeuvres.

Gourmet, December 2006

Chorizo and Potato Spanish Tortilla Bites

Rest assured that your guests won't leave your party feeling hungry: These omelet-like hors d'oeuvres, not to be confused with Mexican flour tortillas, are as hearty as they are delicious.

1 bunch scallions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 oz spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as yukon gold (about 4 medium), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
9 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
5 oz manchego or white cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°f. Lightly oil a 13- by 9-inch baking pan or dish. Finely chop white and green parts of scallions and reserve separately. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onions, garlic, white parts of scallions, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, about 6 minutes. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown and release oil, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate, then stir in potatoes and cover skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool slightly. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, cheese, scallion greens, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then pour into baking pan. Sprinkle potato mixture over eggs (some potatoes will stick out). Bake until custard is set, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack to warm or room temperature. Trim 1/2 inch off each side, then cut tortilla into 1 1/2- by 1-inch rectangles. Cooks' note: tortilla can be baked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Cut into squares, then bring to room temperature before serving or reheat to warm in a preheated 325°f oven.

Makes 64 hors d'oeuvres.

Gourmet, December 2006

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Pork Cornets with Sour-Cherry Sauce

A balance of savory and sweet, this wonderful combination can also be presented more casually; the pork tastes just as good when the slices are simply served on a platter with the sauce on the side.

2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 (1-lb) pork tenderloins
1/2 lb shallots (about 7), peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup dried sour cherries (5 oz)
1/2 cup sugar 2 (5-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary

Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder; an instant-read thermometer garnish: 40 (1-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary or wooden picks

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°f. Very finely grind fennel seeds, salt, and peppercorns in grinder, then rub all over pork. Toss shallots with oil in a 13- by 9-inch flameproof roasting pan, then nestle tenderloins among shallots (without crowding) and roast until thermometer inserted into thickest end of pork registers 155°f, about 30 to 35 minutes. Put 2 layers of foil on a work surface and transfer pork to foil. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then wrap in foil and chill until cold, about 2 hours. While pork cools, put roasting pan with shallots over a burner, then add wine and deglaze pan by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a 2- to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan. Add cherries, sugar, and rosemary and boil until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs (do not discard any leaves that have fallen off stems). Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and chill, uncovered, until cold, about 1 1/2 hours. Cut chilled pork with a carving knife or an electric meat slicer diagonally into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Roll up each slice into a cornet (cone) shape and pierce in center with a rosemary sprig to secure. Fill opening of each cornet with about 1/2 teaspoon cherry sauce. Discard rosemary sprigs when eating. Cooks' note: pork and cherry sauce can be chilled separately up to 1 day. Cover cherry sauce after 1 1/2 hours of chilling.

Makes about 40 hors d'oeuvres.

Gourmet, December 2006

Red-Lentil and Red-Pepper Pâté:

This vegetarian pâté, satisfyingly rich with a silky texture, will entice even the most die-hard carnivores. If you're not worried about keeping it vegetarian, you can substitute an equal amount of unflavored gelatin for the agar flakes.

For pâté:

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup thinly sliced onions (2 medium)
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika (not hot)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups red lentils (10 oz), picked over and rinsed 2 cups water
1 tablespoon agar flakes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red peppers (6 oz), patted dry

For topping:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red and/or yellow peppers (2 oz), patted dry
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

Special equipment: a 1-qt rectangular ceramic terrine; parchment paper accompaniment: lightly toasted baguette slices

Make pâté: Lightly oil terrine, then line bottom and ends with a strip of parchment paper, allowing at least 2 inches of overhang on each end of terrine. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together coriander, paprikas, black pepper, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add spice mixture to onion mixture in saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and bring to a simmer, uncovered, then reduce heat to low and add lentils, water, and agar flakes. Cover saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils have fallen apart and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes more. Stir in vinegar and discard bay leaf. Purée cream cheese, 1/2 cup red peppers, and remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a food processor until smooth. Add lentil mixture and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and purée until smooth. Force mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl with a large rubber spatula, scraping sieve. Discard lentil skins. Stir in oregano and remaining 1/4 cup red peppers. Pour mixture into terrine, smoothing top, and chill, loosely covered, at least 8 hours. Run a sharp paring knife along long sides of terrine, then invert a platter over terrine and invert pâté onto platter. Holding 1 end of parchment overhang against platter, lift off terrine. Discard parchment paper. Let pâté stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving. Make topping: stir together oil, red and/or yellow peppers, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve pâté topped with pepper mixture. Cooks' notes: • pâté, without topping, can be chilled in terrine up to 2 days. • topping can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Makes 12 servings.

Gourmet, December 2006