Our sister Margaret, in Northern California, has what she calls fend-for-yourself night on Fridays. And even though she calls it that, Margy spends more time assembling a dazzling array of appetizers than she would cooking a complete family meal. But it’s fun – and there are usually cocktails involved, even better! She does a combination of re-created leftovers, cheese and crackers, and new stuff. It almost always includes carrots and Ranch dip, as that was all her daughter would eat for a period in her life. (But that’s a different tale.) We posted Margaret’s Kahlua-Pecan-Topped Brie a couple of weeks ago, in case you’d like to check out one of her recipes.
Her birthday happens to be today (Happy Birthday, Margaret!), and she will be celebrating it with her family (that’s a hint, Marty). But then she’s heading down to Southern California, and this Friday, which just happens to be New Year’s Eve, she’ll be having appetizers and champagne cocktails with her sisters. So we’re thinking about some especially festive appetizers.
One of my favorites (and I have the scars to prove it) is an unlikely combination of bacon and prunes. Yes, prunes. Here’s what you do: Warm some mediocre port and macerate pitted prunes in it for a couple of hours, until they’re plump and soft. Stuff a pecan half in each prune.
Cook bacon slices about halfway. Drain the slices and let them cool enough to handle, then wrap a slice around each prune. Fasten with a toothpick. At this point you can stick them in the fridge for a couple of hours, until you want them.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the bacon-wrapped prunes on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan and bake until the bacon crisps up, about ten minutes. Serve warm. There are no amounts given here because it’s really up to you: Make as many or as few as you like. However many you make, it won’t be enough.
Hint: don’t slop boiling bacon grease over your hand. That’s what I did one Christmas Day about 15 years ago. I spent the afternoon in the emergency room. Second worst Christmas of my life. I was so hungry! And my family ate all of my bacon-wrapped prunes while I was waiting there in the emergency room with my hand wrapped in ice.