Small bite, big flavor: Mango-shrimp lollipops

Planning a party or a small gathering? Try Peter Callahan's four delicious and decadent dishes. Here, he shares his recipes for mango-shrimp lollipops, Bloody Marys, quesadillas and margaritas and more; which are from his new cookbook,"Bite by Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make For Any Party."

Cheese and wine
Servings:

Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients

    • 2 semi-ripe pears, preferably Bosc
    • 1 lemon wedge
    • 4 ounces cold Camembert cheese (see tip)
    • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
    • 12 mini edible flowers, such as marigolds or violets
    • 1 bottle crisp Chardonnay

Preparation

Baking Directions:

A tongue-in-cheek ode to the classic pairing of cheese and wine, this hors d'oeuvre veers from tradition, offering the best of both in a clean, chic presentation. I like to pour a crisp Chardonnay on the side to cut the Camembert's richness.Stand each pear on your cutting board, and using a paring knife, cut down around the core so you end up with 4 pieces of pear and a square-shaped core. Slice the pear wedges into 1/8-inch-thick pieces and squeeze a little lemon juice over them to delay browning. Place the slices on a paper towel to absorb the extra moisture. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the cheese into 36 1-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick triangles. Remove the rind if desired, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Arrange the pear slices on a tray or platter. Top each with a piece of Camembert, a few thyme leaves, and a flower petal. Pour the chilled wine into shot glasses (or cordial glasses, pictured opposite), and serve.

Tips:

Make ahead: The pears can be sliced up to 30 minutes before serving. The Camembert can be sliced and refrigerated on a parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day in advance.Tip: For perfectly shaped slivers, freeze the Camembert for 1 hour before slicing. Let the sliced cheese sit out at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how hot the room is) before serving.

Mango shrimp lollipops and Bloody Marys
Servings:

Makes 2

Ingredients

  • Mango shrimp lollipops

    • 2 very ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
    • 1/2 cup cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
    • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, roughly
    • chopped
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon dark rum
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 24 large shrimp (21-25 shrimp per pound), peeled and deveined
    • 24 lollipop sticks (or 4-inch-long wood skewers)
  • Bloody Marys

    • 2 cups tomato juice
    • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
    • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 3/4 cup chilled vodka
    • Celery leaves, for serving (optional)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

We served this twist on the classic shrimp cocktail at a party hosted by Will and Jada Smith. After the shrimp marinates in a sweet and spicy sauce made with mango, fresh ginger, lime juice, and chipotle chiles, they go for a quick turn in the oven, where they naturally curl into a nice, round lollipop shape.Mango shrimp lollipopsPlace the mangos, cream of coconut, garlic, chipotle, lime juice, rum, ginger, Tabasco, coriander, cumin, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Pour the marinade into a resealable gallon-sized bag, add the cilantro, seal, and shake to combine. Add the shrimp to the marinade, seal, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bag. Place the shrimp on a parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheet so that they are all facing the same direction. Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 15 minutes, and then set aside to cool completely. Skewer each shrimp on a lollipop stick or a skewer, and serve on a platter.Varation: Classic shrimp lollipopToss the shrimp in a large bowl with some extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake and skewer them following the instructions above. Finish them with a dot of cocktail sauce, and serve.Blood marysIn a large pitcher or measuring cup, whisk together the tomato juice, horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and pepper. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed. Pour in the vodka and refrigerate. (Reserve the celery leaves.)

Serving Directions:

Mango shrimp lollipops: To serve the lollipops upright, fill a deep rectangular tray with dried black beans (or a piece of Styrofoam) and insert the skewers in the beans.Bloody Marys: Pour the Bloody Marys into shot glasses or small bottles, finish each with a celery leaf (if using), and serve with the clams.

Tips:

Mango shrimp lollipopsMake ahead: The mango marinade can be refrigerated for up to 4 days before using, or frozen for up to 1 month. The shrimp can be peeled and deveined 1 day before serving, and can be cooked and then refrigerated up to 8 hours ahead of serving.Tip:For a glossy finish, set aside a few tablespoons of the marinade before adding the shrimp to the bag. Brush a little on each shrimp after they're skewered and just before serving.Bloody MarysMake ahead: The Bloody Marys can be mixed up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. The breaded clams can be kept frozen for up to 1 month. Cook them, still frozen, for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in the hot oil.

Quesadillas and margaritas
Servings:

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • Salsa

    • 1 1/4 cups diced tomatillos
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped red onion (or 1/2 scallion, finely chopped)
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Margaritas

    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice (from about 15 limes)
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tequila
    • 1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Quesadillas

    • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jarred roasted red peppers
    • 8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick strips

Preparation

Baking Directions:

My take on the ever-popular quesadilla involves layering it with avocado, Brie, roasted red peppers, and Kalamata olives. Topped with a tangy tomatillo salsa, it's a new spin on a favorite that becomes a cool presentation when paired with a classic margarita served in shot glasses or in a mini Patròn bottle and sipped through a straw.SalsaIn a medium bowl, mix together the tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, red onion, jalapeno, and sugar. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or up to a few hours.MargaritasPlace 1/4 cup water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and then raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture comes to a simmer. Turn off the heat and pour the simple syrup into a small glass or a liquid measuring cup. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. In a small pitcher, mix 1/4 cup of the chilled simple syrup with the lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. (Save the rest of the simple syrup, covered, in the refrigerator for another time; it will keep for a few weeks). Pour the margarita mixture into a cocktail shaker. Add some ice cubes, cover the shaker, and shake vigorously to chill. Use a cocktail strainer to strain the margarita mixture, dividing it among thirty to thirty-six shot glasses or mini Patron bottles. Quesadillas Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat a ridged grill pan over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla on the pan and cook on each side until there are grill marks, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Halve and pit the avocado. Scoop the flesh from the skin and place it in a medium bowl. Use a fork to mash it with the lemon juice, and then season with a little salt and pepper. Lay 1 grilled tortilla on a cutting board. Spread with one fourth of the avocado mixture, and then sprinkle with one fourth of the olives and one fourth of the red peppers. Place one fourth of the sliced Brie over the peppers and top with another tortilla. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.Place the quesadillas on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Let the quesadillas cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, place them on a cutting board. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out 8 to 9 rounds from each quesadilla. Place the 2-inch quesadillas on a baking sheet  and bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Remove the quesadillas from the oven and place them on a platter. Top each with a spoonful of tomatillo salsa. Serve with a margarita shot.

Tips:

The salsa can be refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. Let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving. Quesadillas can be made a few hours in advance. Leave them out at room temperature and rewarm them in a hot oven just before serving.

Bagel profiteroles and wine
Servings:

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

    • 1 2-ounce package vanilla pudding mix (not instant), such as Jell-O
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • Pinch of table salt
    • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 papaya, peeled, halved, seeds removed, and thinly sliced (or 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced)
    • Fennel fronds, for serving (optional)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Sometimes I like to take a commonplace savory item, in this case the bagel, and turn it into a dessert. The result is this humorous interpretation made with profiterole dough (like the shell of an éclair), vanilla pudding for the cream cheese, and mango or papaya slices for the lox.Make the pudding, following the package instructions. Cover the pudding directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt together into a medium bowl, and set aside. In a large pot, melt the butter into 1/2 cup water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the hot water mixture until a dough ball forms, about 1 minute. Return the pan to the heat and beat vigorously for 2 minutes to release the steam. Slowly add the eggs and beat until a smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes. Scrape the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and pipe about 1 tablespoon of the paste into a 2-inch-wide, 1/2-inch-high ring, leaving a hole in the center (like a donut). Repeat with the remaining paste, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between rings. Bake for 8 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 325°F. and continue baking until light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes to let the "bagels" dry out slightly. Then remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it aside to cool.Slice each "bagel" almost all the way through horizontally, leaving it hinged on one side. Spread or pipe some vanilla pudding onto the bottom half, and top with a few papaya slices and a fennel frond (if using). Close the "bagel" and serve.

Tips:

The vanilla pudding can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before using. The bagels can be baked and stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 day. The papaya can be sliced and refrigerated several hours before serving.

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