Shrimp Cocktail and Pigs in a Blanket (You Heard Me)
Welcome to Dishing it Out, ParentDish's weekly food column. Katie Workman lives in New York City with her husband and two boys, Jack and Charlie. By day she is the Editor-in Chief of the recipe website Cookstr.com. You can read all of the Dishing it Out posts here.
Here's one of those observations that isn't world changing, really only worth a huh: no matter what you serve at a party, no matter how fancy-schmancy the array of hors d'oeuvre, the two things that will cause the most people to hover near the serving platter and behave with slightly less dignity than usual are ...
Shrimp cocktail and pigs in a blanket.
Men, in particular, get glazed and extra happy when pigs in a blanket make an appearance. I'll leave it to the social anthropologists to determine why this is. But (bonus!) in the never ending quest for foods that appeal to kids and adults alike, these are home runs, and so perfect for New Year's Eve. ( don't know about you, but my New Year's Eves have morphed from sequins and clubs to letting the kids stay up until midnight and attempting to do the same myself.)
And -- best of all -- both pigs in a blanket and classic shrimp cocktail are simple to prepare.
PIGS IN A BLANKET
Serve these babies with spicy brown mustard and ketchup, and make more than you think you'll need.
2 pounds mini hot dogs
Sliced cheddar cheese (optional)
1 large egg
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (from a 17 1/2 ounce box)
Flour for dusting
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you are using the cheese, cut it into slivers. Cut a slit in each mini hot dog lengthwise, and tuck a few pieces of cheese in each.
Beat the egg with 2 teaspoon water in a small bowl.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll out one of the sheets of puff pastry until it is about 14 by 11-inches. Cut it into small rectangles, just big enough to wrap around the hot dogs. Wrap each one and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.. Brush each with the egg mixture. Repeat with the second puff pastry sheet and the rest of the hot dogs. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
CLASSIC SHRIMP COCKTAIL
Figure about 4 shrimp per person (or more - you know your crowd)
You may of course buy precooked shrimp. But they are so easy to cook yourself, and less expensive, and SO much better. Less chance that they will be rubbery or waterlogged. The bigger the shrimp, the more expensive they are per pound. But don't go smaller than large, and if extra large or jumbo are in your budget, awesome.
Similarly, there are plenty of decent bottled cocktail sauces available. But, in 3 minutes you can make your own, fine tune the level of spiciness to your family's taste, and prepare to graciously smile when people give you compliments.
Leave the tails on, so they look prettier (and bigger!) and put out a little bowl for everyone to toss them in. I like Heinz for the chili sauce and the ketchup.
2 pounds peeled raw shrimp (about 21-25 per pound)
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
a few dashes dash Worcestershire sauce
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
a few shakes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook JUST until they turn pink. Drain them and rinse until very cold water to stop them from cooking further. Drain and hold them in the fridge.
For the cocktail sauce, mix up the chili sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, lemon juice, horseradish, Tabasco, and a pinch of salt.
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