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Entertain with ease

Chef offers tips for elegant appetizers

Chef offers tips for elegant appetizers

April 30, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

When preparing food, Audrey Harrington likes to measure out all ingredients and have them handy in little bowls, ready to dump into whatever recipe she's putting together.

What she put together at a recent cooking class at the Women's Club in Hagerstown was a menu of easy appetizers and quick hors d'oeuvres.

"I enjoy entertaining," the Hagers- town native said. She figures she's been cooking for about 30 years.

Retired from a career in Maryland state government, Harrington is turning that joy of entertaining into a catering business. She'll do almost any kind of party - except a pig roast. She can make a wonderful cake, and cited a lemon-raspberry-coconut concoction she made for her family for Easter.

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"Just don't have me decorate it," she laughed.

Harrington provided recipes and tips. She prepared easy and inexpensive appetizers - no lobster, no crab - before an audience of about 50 people.

She opened her program with a little joke - a shredded wheat cracker with a square of pre-cut sliced American cheese on top.

"It's nice to have things done for you, but I think that's going a little too far," Harrington said.

First on her agenda was a dish of vegetables marinated overnight in a bottled zesty Italian dressing. Simple and ready to serve long before the party. Harrington pointed out that she did not use green peppers because she doesn't like green peppers. The red, yellow and orange peppers are much more expensive because they are imported, she said. "You're paying their airfare."

She used a hand chopper on artichoke hearts for a hot dip she said bakes perfectly in a quiche dish.

Although "choux" is French for cabbage or sweetheart, Harrington's Pate a Choux Puffs contained neither.

"This is a little bit fancier, but it's really not that hard or time consuming," she said.

Stephanie Henneberger assisted Harrington, disappearing behind the swinging kitchen doors to the oven.

"I'm just here to eat," she claimed.

The puffy little pastries were easily made, and with their salmon mousse filling, provided an elegant bite-sized hors d'oeuvre. "You can fill it with anything - ham salad, chicken salad, whipped cream," Harrington said.

"People will think you're wonderful," she added.

The women - and one man - who attended Harrington's class were pleased.

"Everything was delicious," said Women's Club member Dolores Creager of Falling Waters, W.Va. She pointed out the bonus that Harrington prepared realistic hors d'oeuvres that Creager would be likely to make herself.

Tina Beatty of Hagerstown is not a member of the club, but she cooks. "I really liked the mushrooms," she said, referring to the stuffed mushrooms Harrington had prepared. She also complemented the chef for her artichoke dip.

Beatty attended the earlier Women's Club class led by Schmankerl Stube Chef Dieter Blosel, and she said she is looking forward to Shellie Ralston's program tonight, the finale of the series.

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