Literary holiday season hors d’oeuvres

We had a wonderful time at the Desk Set’s Biblioball last Saturday serving up some very special hors d’oeuvres of salt and pepper shrimp with olive tapanade, mushroom duxelle, pesto and roasted red peppers on crostini and baked tofu with babaganouj, caramelized onions, and a black currant reduction sauce on crostini garnished with parsley. It was all to benefit Literacy for Incarcerated Teens and was really great to meet some new friends and get some great, complimentary feedback on our cooking. Thank you also to Tuthilltown Spirits, our favorite New York State spirit maker, for the complimentary bourbon! A perfect compliment to all things holiday.  As promised, here are the recipes of what we served. We think they are perfect for all of your holiday entertaining!

Serving our hors d'oeuvres at the Biblioball with an apron from Cocotte in Paris!

Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Pesto, Mushroom Duxelle and Roasted Red Pepper on Crostini


Baguette sliced into rounds, drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven

Mixed Olives

Mushrooms of any kind



Olive Oil

Jar of roasted red peppers

Shrimp (peeled)

Salt and Pepper

Salt and Pepper Shrim Crostini

1. Make the tapenade: If the olives have pits in them, pit them. Place them in the food processor and pulse until olives resemble a rough paste. If you do not have a food processor finely chop the olives or cheat and buy pre-made tapenede.

2. Make the pesto: combine leaves from 1 bunch of basil combine basil, a clove of garlic, salt to taste, a generous amount of olive oil and 1 toasted crostini in the food processor.

3. Make the mushroom duxelle: wash and destem mushrooms and chop in food processor. Saute with olive oil in saucepan over medium heat until reduced and spreadable.

4. Cut roasted red peppers into thin strips

5. Fry shrimp: Wash, pat dry and peel shrimp. Put shrimp in a bowl and add generous amounts of salt and pepper. In a lightly oiled wok over high heat fry shrimp in small batches until it is crispy and golden. Place shrimp on baking sheet lined with paper towel to cool and absorb excess oil.

6. Assemble: On crostini spread a thin layer of pesto, followed by olive tapanade and mushroom duxelle. Place 2 shrimp per toast on top of mushrooms and garnish with 1 to 2 red pepper slices. Enjoy!

I should add that this recipe would be easy to make vegan- just substitute the baked tofu from the recipe below for the shrimp and voila!

And for our vegan and vegetarian friends (and their friends who eat meat who also like vegetarian food):

Baked Tofu with Babaganouj, Caramelized Onions and Black Currant Reduction Sauce on Crostini


Baguette sliced into rounds, drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven

Block of tofu


2-3 lemons




Olive Oil

Soy Sauce

Black current juice (you can find this in a natural food store or in the Polish section of some grocery stores- be sure you get juice and not syrup with nasty corn syrup in it)


2 Onions


Flat leaf parsley


Tofu Crostini

1. Make the banaganouj: Roast the eggplant: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice eggplant in half (or in quarters), drizzle with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet until soft. Once the eggplant is soft, cool slightly and peel (careful if it is still hot). In the food processor combine egg plant with tahini (1/4 cup or so and then adjust for taste), juice of 1 to 2 lemons (again, to taste), olive oil, a clove of garlic and salt. For a more unusual taste add a dash of cumin.

2. Bake the tofu: Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Cut the tofu into small rectangles about 1/4 inch thick. Place in baking dish with olive oil and a dash of soy sauce, salt and pepper. Bake 20 to 40 minutes (I know, big variation time) until golden brown. Remove from oven and baking dishes and cool on baking sheets lined with paper towel.

3. Caramelize the onions: Cut the onions in half and separate them into “half moons.” Warm olive oil in a skillet, add onions and cook onion over low heat with half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown for about 20 minutes (have patience with the onions, they may take a little longer).

4. Make black current sauce: Reduce black current juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat until it achieves a sauce-like consistency. Stir in honey to taste. If you sauce is not jelling cheat by adding a little corn starch.

5. Wash the parsley and separate the leaves from the stems.

6. Assemble: Spread the babaganouj thickly on crostini. Place tofu on top of banaganouj, followed by the onions. Drizzle the sauce over the crostini (a little bit goes a long way!) and garnish with parsley. Bon app!

One way we know this dish was successful is that we received glowing reviews from both meat eaters and vegans!

Sarah G. in the kitchen!

We also want to give a special shout out to Sarah Gentile, who was our 3rd cook in the kitchen and helped us prep these recipes. We could not have done it without her!

Finally, if you are interested in the apron I was wearing, check out La Cocoette, a great bookstore dedicated to books about food and cooking (I was in heaven, I went back there twice)! Yes, they may be tucked away in the trendy 11th arrondissement in Paris, but they also have a boutique online!

About 2cooksinthekitchen

Two cooks, one from Bushwick and a passionate meat-eater, one from Sunset Park and a former vegan, and both NYC transplants, set out to share original recipes that can be made dairy free and vegan deserts; showcase culinary resources in the outer boroughs (and sometimes Manhattan) where one can find unique, specific and fairly priced ingredients; and participate wholeheartedly in the many cultures of cooking and eating that make up New York City.
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2 Responses to Literary holiday season hors d’oeuvres

  1. Andi V says:

    Great pic! Looks delicious. It was great seeing you there!

  2. Pingback: Eastern European Inspired Solstice Feast (with vegan/vegetarian options) | 2 Cooks in the Kitchen

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