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Party Time (December 11, 2014)

Little Sweet Potato Latkes
Goat Cheese Yule Log
Mini Bánh Mi Sandwiches
Proscuitto-Wrapped Figs with Burrata & Port & Balsamic Syrup
Mixed Nuts
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

We love winter parties! Get a fire going, fill the room with good friends and put out an array of appetizers for grazing and nibbling. We've got some excellent books on the subject, and they all give you terrific recipes and guidelines for hosting the perfect evening, large or small, formal or otherwise! Planning is the key to a successful event that you can enjoy as well so that you can relax and enjoy the evening as well! Oops, doorbell's ringing. Hi everyone, come on in...

One of the best entertaining books we've seen in a long time comes from sisters Donna Kelly and Sandra Hoopes, authors of 200 Appetizers, a new cookbook with ideas and recipes on how to throw a cocktail party with ease. Interestingly, these gals are not chefs; Donna Kelly is a prosecutor in the Utah Attorney General's office, and Sandra Hoopes is a college mentor living in Phoenix who attended culinary school. They know what it means to be busy, but that hasn't kept these sisters from regularly entertaining family and friends. What a pair! Bet their parties are a ball!

In an interview by Kathy Stephenson in The Salt Lake Tribune (November 27, 2012), the authors singled out "five fast apps" from the book that can be put together in about 10 minutes for holiday parties and potlucks. The offerings include colorful gift-wrapped shrimp bites, a rustic cheese spread, and a turkey cranberry bruschetta that isn't the "dainty bite" you might expect from an appetizer book, said Hoopes. "It's a mini holiday meal," she said, "with turkey, cucumber slices and cream cheese and garnished with cranberry sauce and a deep-fried sage. It's the kind of 'dude food' that will keep guests – especially the males in the group – from leaving the party hungry."

200 Appetizers is the seventh cookbook for Donna, a Provo resident. She also has authored Quesadillas, French Toast and 101 Things To Do With Chicken. She submitted an idea of 100 recipes to the publisher, they wanted 100 more! She immediately thought of her sister Sandra, and the book with 200 recipes was born!

Seriously Simple Parties, recipes, menus and advice for effortless entertaining by Diane Rossen Worthington is a must for anyone who loves to throw a party! With gorgeous photographs and drool-producing recipes you'll put together a glam menu in no time. It's a year-round book, with menus and ideas for each season and a nonpareil planning section that will eliminate any anxiety over your next bash. You may be new at entertaining, but not to worry, for it's all explained here! Start the guest list!

Tiny Party Food: Bite-size recipes for miniature meals just arrived, and we're hooked. Co-author Teri Lyn Fisher is a photographer whose work has appeared in Rue, Anthology and HGTV Magazine. A graduate of le Cordon Bleu, co-author Jenny Park is a food stylist, recipe writer and professional eater whose clients include the California Wine Board and Clearly, they know food and have created a stylish collection that is just this side of adorable... and all of it utterly yummy. Talk about grazing – each of these recipes is one sensational mouthful... snarf is the operative word here!

But wait, there's, more... and each of us knows someone who would love this book: The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook! Yup, you read it right, and we've got it! Elise McConough and the Editors of High Times Magazine pulled together more than 50 recipes that are delicious anyway you mix them!

So playing it as uh, straight as possible, we looked up information. Wikipedia states,

Medical cannabis refers to the parts of the herb cannabis used as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy, or to synthetic forms... The Cannabis plant has a long history of use as medicine, with historical evidence dating back to 2737BC. Cannabis is one of the 50 "fundamental" herbs of traditional Chinese medicine, and is prescribed for a broad range of indications.

Well that sounded good. So we kept looking... Here's how Amazon describes the book:

This first-ever cookbook from 'High Times' magazine - the world's most trusted name when it comes to getting stoned - is the deliciously definitive guide to cannabis-infused cooking. Easy, accessible recipes and advice; ... a cornucopia of irie appetizers and entrees, ... sweets, ... cocktails, and high-holiday feasts for any occasion, from Time Warp Tamales and Sativa Shrimp Spring Rolls to Pico de Ganja Nachos and Pineapple Express Upside-Down Cake. Delectable color photos and recipes inspired by celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Cheech and Chong, and Willie Nelson will spark the interest of experienced ... cooks and "budding" chefs, whether they're looking for the perfect midnight munchie or just to take dinner to a higher level.

Resist? Ha, we didn't even try! Party on...

On today's menu:

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Little Sweet Potato Latkes

Little Sweet Potato Latkes

Traditionally served on Hanukah, these low-maintenance potato pancakes are tasty and filling. Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park have jazzed up the classic recipe by swapping out the typical white spuds for bright orange sweet potatoes and adding flavourful green onions. Thanks, ladies... and oh, pass the plate, please. From Tiny Party Food.

Makes 30

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated, (about 1½ cups)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream or Greek yogurt
  1. Place sweet potato between 2 sheets of cheesecloth; grasp ends of cheesecloth and twist to extract as much liquid as possible. (Tip: the more liquid you squeeze out of the potato, the better the latkes will hold together while frying.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss drained sweet potato with green onions, shallots and garlic. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and fold to combine. Stir in egg until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Warm oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drop dollops of better, about 2 Tbsp each, into the hot skillet and fry on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain latkes on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Top each latke with a small dollop of crème fraîche or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce. Serve warm.

Tony's wine recommendation:
unoaked Chardonnay, Soave



Goat Cheese Yule Log

Goat Cheese Yule Log

Oh sisters, this is so gorgeous, and it's got to be the easiest, fastest and most festive looking dish at the party. Similar to a cheese ball, it's a winner "because anything with goat cheese impresses," said author Donna Kelly. Better have two more in your pantry, this one will disappear as fast as you made it! From 200 Appetizers.

Servings: Makes 1 log

  • 1 (10–12 ounce) log of goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup diced pistachios
  • 1/4 cup diced sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup honey

In a medium bowl, mix goat cheese and cream cheese together. Roll into a log, 4 to 5 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or until firm. Combine pistachios, cranberries and parsleys on a plate. Unwrap cheese log and roll in mixture pressing down so that it adheres to the cheese.

Place on a serving plate and drizzle with honey. Serve with crackers, toasted bread slices or toasted pita triangles.

Tony's wine recommendation:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc



Mini Bánh Mi Sandwiches

Mini Bánh Mi Sandwiches

Once a month I have to have a Bánh Mi sandwich; we have a wonderful shop up the street that makes them in front of your hungry eyes! A fresh buttered baguette slathered with pâté and sliced meats, topped with a sweet and tangy mix of condiments; it's a perfect combination... the best of the best street food! If I can make it home, I add a bit of mayonnaise, but that's really gilding the lily at this point.

Tiny Party Food has an itty-bitty version of Bánh Mi, and it's just as delectable as the original, and warning, at a gathering it's hard not to shamelessly wolf down two or three before moving on...

Note: this is a do-ahead recipe. Do read it before starting!

    Marinated Pork Belly
  • 1/2 pound pork belly, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • Black pepper, to taste
    Pickled Carrot-Daikon Salad
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup daikon, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
    For Assembling Sandwiches
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces chicken liver or pork pâté
  • 24 mini baguettes
  • 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2–3 Serrano peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pork belly in a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Pour marinade over pork belly and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine carrots and daikon. In another small bowl, stir together vinegar, warm water, sugar and salt until ingredients are combines and sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over vegetables and toss. Refrigerate for at least an hour, until vegetables have pickled. (Tip: The pork belly and daikon-carrot mixture can be prepared until this point up to 2 days ahead.)
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and green onions in a small bowl.
  4. Spread a thin layer of pâté on the bottom half of each baguette and a layer of green onion mayonnaise on the top half. Fill each roll with a little cucumber, pork belly, pickled carrot-daikon salad, pepper and cilantro. Close sandwiches and serve.

Vegetarian Option: replace the pork belly with 1/2 pound cubed tofu and marinate as directed.

Tony's wine recommendation:
off-dry Riesling, ProseccoExtra Dry



Proscuitto-Wrapped Figs with Burrata & Port & Balsamic Syrup

Proscuitto-Wrapped Figs with Burrata & Port & Balsamic Syrup

From Seriously Simple Parties, author Diane Rossen Worthington says these are a hit at any party, and a snap to prepare. Make them when figs are in season, from summer to midfall. The Port and Balsamic Syrup elevates these fruit and cheese nuggets to a new level of deliciousness. It's fun to serve them on a platter so that gusts can help themselves. Oh, make sure to have cocktail napkins close by, since these are a bit messy, but oh, so worth it!

Serves 8 to 12

  • 3 ounces mozzarella or Burrata cheese
  • 8 fresh figs, stems removed, halved (if large they can be quartered)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 thin slices prosciutto (about 1/2 pound)
  • Port and Balsamic Syrup (recipe follows)
  1. Cut the cheese into 1/2-inch squares and press firmly into the center of the fig halves. Sprinkle the halves with black pepper.
  2. Wrap 1 prosciutto slice around each fig half and place all of the figs on a platter.
  3. Drizzle the syrup over the figs. Serve immediately.

Port and Balsamic Syrup

(makes about 1/3 cup)

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tawny port

Combine the vinegar and port in a small heavy saucepan over high heat. Reduce for 6 to 7 minutes or until it becomes syrupy. Bubbles will begin to form. (Be careful not to reduce it too much, or it will become burnt and stringy.) Cool the syrup and use a funnel to pour into a container with a spout. Keep refrigerated until using.

The syrup may be made up to 1 month ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

Party Prep: this may be prepared through step 2 up to 6 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Do step 3 just before serving.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Pouilly-Fuissé, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc



Mixed Nuts

Mixed Nuts

Also from Seriously Simple Parties is this obscenely delicious mix of nuts, herbs, salt and sugar that you simply cannot stop eating. Author Worthington also suggests that a clever cook could slice some season fruit and arrange on a platter. Place a mound of the nuts in the center for a super-easy after-dinner or lunch treat!

  • 1 pound raw unsalted mixed nuts (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts and hazelnuts)
  • 1 Tbsp fine chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut up
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread out the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. With a big wooden spoon, stir the nuts in the herb mixture, making sure the butter melts and moving the nuts around so they are evenly coated. Transfer to a pretty bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to crisp the nuts before serving.
  3. Stand aside...

Tony's wine recommendation:
Tawny Port, Oloroso Sherry



Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Here we are! From the The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook comes this beautiful classic with a twist from the infamous Chef Ra (Google it!). Could be a perfect dessert for an engagement party, a stag... a significant birthday, perhaps? Guaranteed to make the event! Hey, they may never leave...

Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup Simple Cannabutter (recipe follows)
  • 1 lb milk chocolate
  • 1 pint large strawberries
  1. In a double boiler, melt the cannabutter over a low flame. Once the butter is liquid, set it aside.
  2. Using the same double boiler, melt the chocolate until smooth, paying close attention to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn. Add the cannabutter while the melting is in progress. Gently but thoroughly stir the butter into the chocolate.
  3. Dip each strawberry into the canna-chocolate while it is still hot, enrobing each one. Place the dipped strawberries on wax paper and cool them in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Next to the champagne...

Simple Cannabutter

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter or margarine
  • 1/4 ounce cannabis buds, finely ground
  1. Melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan. Add the ground buds, and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Strain the butter into a glass dish with a right-fitting lid. Push the back of a spoon against the plant matter, and smash it against the strainer to squeeze out every drop of butter available. When you're done, discard the plant matter.
  3. Use your cannabutter immediately, or refrigerate or freeze until it is time to use. You can easily scale this recipe up for larger batches.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Moscato d'Asti, Ruby Port




We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs:

Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for 200 Appetizers by Donna Kelly and Sandra Hoopes. Text © 2012 Donna Kelly and Sandra Hoopes, and Paul Fraughton (Yule log photograph) and Kathy Stephenson (story) from The Salt Lake Tribune.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for Seriously Simple Parties by Diane Rossen Worthington. Text © 2012 Diane Rossen Worthingon. Photographs © 2012 Yvonne Duivenvoorden.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, and Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, for High Times Cannabis Cookbook by Elise McDonough and the Editors of High Times Magazine. Text © 2012 Trans High Corporation. Food photography © Sara Remington.

Quirk Books, Philadelphia, and Random House for Tiny Food Party by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park. © 2012 Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park.


Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (173 KB)

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Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Helen Hatton and Ron Morris at Le Caveau des Gourmets in Gigondas




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