Once they have a microwave, hosts learn to serve freshly heated hors d'oeuvres rather than those that are mushy and soggy. The microwave oven does its best when heating small portions, and it performs this task with phenomenal time savings and the convenience of a cool kitchen.
Here are a few tips to think of when microwaving hors d'oeuvres:
--When you plan to reheat precooked appetizers, round up suitable microwave-safe dishes ahead of time and check to see that they fit inside your oven. These should be attractive enough for serving and not be trimmed with metal. Glass or pottery platters and wide shallow pottery bowls are good. Some types of microwave-safe--especially the type that also goes into a conventional oven--gets hot in a moderate amount of microwave time, so might be unsuitable if the dish is to be passed. For hors d'oeuvres served in sauce, select platters with rims so drips don't spill.
--Remember that thin single layers of food microwave faster than thicker layers. As a rule, allow about one minute reheating time per appetizer-size serving of precooked foods, such as chicken wings, meatballs, egg rolls, ribs or sausage pieces. If these are frozen, arrange in individual pieces, if possible, and allow about an extra minute per serving. Frozen pieces will take more rearranging or turning over to ensure even heating. Cover foods with wax paper or plastic wrap, if you want them moist. Do not cover foods meant to be crisp, such as egg rolls.
--Microwave dry items, such as crackers with toppings, on paper plates, then set them on a sturdy plate for passing. Hot canapes on crisp bases microwave in about 15 to 30 seconds per dozen.
--For informal occasions, set out precooked pizza, cut into small pieces, and let guests serve themselves on paper plates, and individually warm their own appetizers in the microwave. Heating time will be about 30 seconds to 1 minute per piece, using HIGH (100% power). Time will vary depending on whether the appetizers are cold or at room temperature, and on oven wattage.
More Flavor Variety
Many dinner parties are really hors d'oeuvres parties rather than the formal sit-down dinners. Rather than a heavy single-meat entree, people may enjoy several appetizers for more flavor and texture variety. With a microwave, it's easy to provide a selection of foods while tending to your guests, not the stove. Representative of this variety are the three recipes that follow. Two are for hot meat items and the other is a cold piquant vegetable.
Because these are served in sauce, it is best to microwave them in a regular cooking dish, then transfer them to a serving bowl for the party. These ham balls are sturdy enough to rearrange after partial cooking, so you can cook them all at once in an oblong microwave dish. However, if you want, you can cook them, a dozen at a time, on a microwave plate for about four to six minutes on HIGH (100% power).
BOURBON-GLAZED HAM BALLS
1 pound ground cooked ham
1/2 pound ground pork
3 slices soft bread, cubed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup minced celery
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced green pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
Combine ham, pork, bread, 1 tablespoon bourbon, water, egg, celery, onion, green pepper, dry mustard, pepper and cloves in large bowl. Shape mixture into about 24 meatballs, using heaping tablespoon mixture for each. Evenly space meatballs in 12x8-inch microwave oblong dish. Cover with wax paper.
Microwave on HIGH 9 to 11 minutes, rearranging ham balls so that less-cooked ones are to outside of dish after about 5 minutes. Be sure all balls are fully cooked.
Stir together brown sugar, prepared mustard, vinegar and remaining 1 tablespoon bourbon. Drizzle glaze over ham balls and return to microwave about 2 to 4 minutes longer, gently stirring after 2 minutes, until lightly glazed. To serve, transfer finished ham balls to serving platter and serve with wood picks. Makes 24 ham balls.
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The caper and Parmesan butter sauce for this shrimp has more character than the traditional garlic butter. Butterflying the shrimp gives each one more surface area to pick up the delicious sauce. This dish is sometimes called shrimp Riviera.
BUTTERFLIED SHRIMP WITH PARMESAN BUTTER
36 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons capers, liquid included
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
With sharp knife, butterfly shrimp by cutting each lengthwise about halfway through shrimp. With hands, separate 2 adjoining pieces to form thin, flat shrimp.
Place butter in 1-quart microwave-safe casserole. Microwave on HIGH until melted. Stir in capers, garlic and lemon juice.