My Go-to Holiday Appetizer

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I love to throw a big holiday party, but it’s so much work, I’ve forsworn doing them. I shared my party tips with you during my last big holiday party, ever.

It doesn’t mean we won’t deck our halls. As I write, there are hundreds of ornaments collected over the years, sorted by type, waiting to be hung on our nine-foot Noble Fir, purchased, as in years past, from a Delancey Street lot where the trees are beautiful, the service is excellent and the cause is admirable.

Delancey Street is the country's leading residential self-help organization for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom. All of the cheerful and helpful staff at the Christmas tree lot are working their way out of their various life issues through Delancey Street programs.

Our living room is a jumble of nutcrackers, pillar candles, snow globes, evergreens and boxes of our precious santons (traditional Provençal crèche figurines), collected a little at a time, over various vacations to France. By next weekend, our house will be decorated and festive.

If you’re having a party, you might like to try one of the mainstays of my parties past. This is a very simple, make-ahead appetizer using small bay shrimp that you buy pre-cooked and shelled, and lots of onion, which mellows in the vinaigrette and helps to extend a pound of shrimp to serve many. Instead of sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), I use a red onion, which is not as sweet, but still milder than regular onion, because I like the color contrast.

The recipe is by Shirley Sarvis, a renowned San Francisco food writer and cookbook author who specialized in food and wine pairing. I got the recipe from Shirley years ago, during a series of wine pairing classes she taught. Shirley passed away in January of this year. Late last year, I faxed Shirley, asking permission to use her recipe for Special Fork and she called me back, giving her approval and thanking me for asking, rather than using her recipe without credit.

Mustard-Sweet Onion Shrimp
1 large sweet onion
1 pound tiny shelled cooked shrimp
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cut onion, top to bottom, into 1/8-inch wide wedge slices and break apart into a large bowl. Add shrimp.
  2. In medium bowl whisk mustard and vinegar together, then add oil in a steady stream, whisking continuously until mixture is smooth and slightly thickened. Pour over onion and shrimp; turn to coat well.
  3. Cover and chill for 12 to 24 hours, turning once or twice. Add pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with wheat or sesame crackers or thin slices of dark brown bread, such as pumpernickel.

Serve 8 to 12

Recipe adapted from Shirley Sarvis, food writer, cookbook author, and wine and food authority.

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Posted: Dec 1st by Sandy_Hu