Appetizers Through the Decades

1960s: Swedish Meatballs


2 slices white bread, torn into pieces
¼ cup milk
¾ lb. ground chuck
¾ lb. ground pork
2 eggs
1 ½ tablespoons grated onion
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter


3 tablespoon butter
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 cups beef broth
¼ cup Burgundy

Meatball Directions:
1. In a small bowl, moisten bread with milk.
2. Combine beef, pork, eggs, onion and seasonings in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine at low speed until thoroughly mixed. Mixture will be soft.
3. Form into 4 dozen small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each.
4. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute meatballs over medium low heat until cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Remove meatballs from skillet.

Sauce Directions:
5. In the same skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in flour and mustard over low heat until light brown.
6. Gradually whisk in broth, stirring constantly until thickened.

Final step: Add meatballs to sauce. Just before serving, add Burgundy.

1970s: Cheddar Cheese and Beer Fondue

6 ounces medium-bodied New Jersey beer (half a bottle)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
Pinch of ground nutmeg

1. Over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the beer and the Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer.
2. In a small dish, combine the Dijon mustard and flour to form a paste. Add the mustard/flour paste to the beer mixture and whisk briskly to fully incorporate. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium.
3. While whisking, add the cheddar cheese to the thickened beer mixture by the handful, allowing the cheese to melt before adding more. 4. Switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon once the mixture is too thick to be whisked.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add nutmeg and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is smooth. Stir frequently.
6. Keep on low heat until ready to serve then pour the cheese into a warm fondue pot over a heating element (candle, sterno, etc…).
7. Serve with crusty bread cubes and par-boiled baby potatoes.

Makes 6 appetizer-size servings.

1980s: Bread Bowl Spinach Dip

1 large round bread. (You can use sourdough, black bread or a round rye. Hollow it out so there is about a 2-inch thickness to the entire bowl.)
16 oz. sour cream (low-fat works, too)
1 small package of chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
½ cup of finely grated carrots
3 tablespoons of chopped red onion
½ cup of grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss or Parmesan)
½ teaspoon of fresh or dry parsley
½ teaspoon of pepper
½ teaspoon of paprika

Just mix all your ingredients together and chill.  We suggest you put the dip in the bread bowl just prior to serving. Don’t be surprised at the end of the night if the bowl disappears, too.

1990s: Buffalo Chicken Homemade Hot Pockets

2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (dark and white meat)
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
½ handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
2-3 oz. Blue Cheese, crumbled (can add more if you’re a fan)
2-3 oz. your favorite hot sauce

Pie Dough:
3 cups flour
1-teaspoon salt
1-tablespoon sugar
½ pound unsalted butter
¾ -1 cup ice water
1 egg

1. Combine the chicken, carrot, celery, fresh parsley, blue cheese, and hot sauce into a bowl. Mix well to combine, adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside in the fridge.
2. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar until well mixed. Add to a food processor and combine the cold butter (cut it up into small cubes) and pulse until the butter resembles the size of small peas. With the machine running, begin adding ice water a few tablespoons at a time. When the dough becomes a ball place it on a floured work surface and shape into a uniform ball (or two balls) then flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. After the dough has cooled and rested, roll it out to ¼-inch thickness and cut into 4- to 5-inch squares.  Place ¼ cup of the mixture onto the center of each pie square. Fold over and seal the edges with a fork and then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the dough is golden brown.

Serve on a platter while hot, drizzle with some hot sauce, and serve with some carrots and celery. No more messy fingers or “bones” – it’s the combination of our favorite convenience treat from the 1990s and a staple on the table!

2000s: Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting (from Leite’s Culinaria)

For the cupcakes
 (makes 24):
2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (not instant coffee)
Seven-Minute Frosting (coffee variation, recipe below)
Coffee beans, for garnish

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure coffee extract

Cupcake Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Whisk together cake flour and cocoa. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Beat to combine thoroughly.
3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
5. To finish, use a small spoon to dollop cupcakes generously with frosting and make decorative peaks. Garnish each cupcake with a coffee bean before serving.

Frosting Directions:
1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230°F (110°C).
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230°F (110°C), remove from the heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons coffee extract, whisking to combine. Use immediately.

2010s: Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 one-pound package of bacon
3 teaspoons seasoning blend of your choice (Tuscan, Chipotle, etc.)

1. Sprinkle each chicken breast with one tsp. of seasoning, if desired. Slice chicken length-wise then cross-wise to make one-inch pieces.
2. Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each piece of chicken.
3. Saute in a pan over medium heat to brown bacon and cook chicken through. Turn frequently for even cooking. (Takes about 10-12 minutes.)
4. Drain on paper towels then skewer chicken bites onto sturdy cocktail toothpicks to serve.

Makes about 50 pieces.