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Kitchen Detail: Winning Horses Doovers

September 22, 2022

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By Nancy Pollard

After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food-related issues.

Drum Roll Please for our Horses Doover (hors d’oeuvres) Winners

We had no idea that the 2018 Winter Edition of our favorite Horses Doover (hors d’oeuvre) would be read so frequently and that the follow-up Summer Edition would have its recipes downloaded by so many readers. Thus was hatched the idea to have a contest on just little things to eat with an aperitivo or a mocktail. (There are already enough contests on your favorite riff on pizza or dessert.) All the children in the KD households love their cocktail hour and nibbling new horses doovers almost as much as the ex-children do. So after shopping for, tasting and photographing all the recipes, we had a meal of Horses Doover (hors d’oeuvres) finalists with our favorite cocktail of this summer, the KD version of an Aperol Spritz. And surprisingly, the KD panel was unanimous in the awards for first, second, and third place out of the finalist recipes.

First Prize: Ricotta & Acacia Honey On Toasted Baguette Slices

homemade ricotta & honey or bottarga on baguette Horses Doover (hors d'oeuvres) Contest Winner for 2019Carol Fisch wins first place with her double recipe for homemade ricotta, which she suggests should be topped with acacia honey on a toasted slice of baguette. She advised us to save the whey, the liquid by-product of cheesemaking, from the ricotta and make crêpes. One of our panelists thought that it would be too sweet for her, and we were surprised that she loved this startling combination so much that she awarded it first place. For myself, the making of this form of ricotta (normally it is made with whey, occasionally adding some milk along with the acid and salt) was a new, nervous adventure for me. It is gorgeous, smooth, rich, and subtle in texture. The whey can be used in cakes, but the suggested crêpes we made with it for for a post horses doover dessert were much more lacy and delicate than usual. It took me about 3 crêpes to get it right for an 8-inch pan, using a ¼ cup measure of batter. You’ll see that we alternated the acacia honey with some of the bottarga (sliced tuna roe) I picked up in Marzamemi. (Bottarga can also come from mullet and amberjack.)

Ricotta on Toast

Serves 10
Not your normal store-bought ricotta. Smooth and rich, it makes a great layer for crostini and bruschetta.
Recipe by Carol Fisch.
Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen blog.

  1. 3 cups (¾L) whole milk
  2. 1 cup (¼L) heavy cream
  3. ½ teaspoon (3gr) fine sea salt
  4. 3 tablespoons (45gr) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. Acacia honey for garnish (or a slice of bottarga of tuna, amberjack, or mullet)
  1. Pour milk, cream, and salt into a 3-quart (2.8L) saucepan. Heat until liquid reaches 190F (88C), stirring occasionally to keep liquid from scorching.
  2. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes.
  3. Line a colander or strainer with a clean dishtowel or a few layers of cheesecloth and place over a container to catch the whey (the liquid). Reserve the whey.
  4. Alllow to sit for an hour or two and the cheese will firm up as it cools.
  5. Slide the ricotta from the cloth into a bowl and use right away, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
  6. Toast the number of baguette slices you want, then spread each slice with the ricotta and top with some acacia honey (or bottarga)
  7. Save the whey for the next recipe.
  1. Acacia honey has a slightly sandy texture and a unique flavor. It is worth getting it for this recipe.
  2. For a completely different taste effect, shave some bottarga onto the ricotta.

Bonus Crêpes From Ricotta Whey

These are softer and more lacy than traditional crêpes and are best used for a sweet ending to a meal.
Recipe by Carol Fisch.
Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen blog.

    1.  3 large eggs
    2.  1 cup (80gr) all-purpose flour
    3.  2 tablespoons (28.5gr) melted butter
    4.  1½ cups (1.3 L) whey (reserved from ricotta recipe)
    5. 1 tablespoon (12.5gr) sugar


  1. Beat the eggs in bowl or blender.
  2. Gradually add the flour, melted butter, whey, and sugar until thoroughly blended and smooth.
  3. You may have to run the batter through a strainer if you do not use a blender or processor.
  4. Chill the batter, covered, in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to two days.
  5. Have a crêpe or omelet pan ready, and use a teaspoon of butter in the bottom of the pan for each crêpe.
  6. The heat should be at a medium-high temperature.
  7. For an 8-inch to 9-inch (20-23cm) you will need about ¼ cup (60ml) ladle or measure for each crêpe.
  8. Tilt the pan as you pour the batter and it should form a circle, which will turn dry-looking and lacy.
  9. With an offset spatula flip the crêpe over to cook the other side. This process takes less than 2 minutes.
  10. Stack onto a warm plate for immediate use, or separate each crepe with wax paper and freeze in a zip-bag for later use.
  1. You should have about 2 2/3 cups (2/3L) of whey when you make the ricotta recipe. Save and freeze the rest of the whey, or use the rest for a cake, as the whey will give you a more tender crumb.
  2. You can fill the crêpes with sweetened ricotta and berries, then roll them and serve.

Second Prize: Roquefort Cheese Mold

roquefort cheese appetizer for Horses Doover (hors d'oeuvres) contest 2nd Place Winner 2019Maria Pallas wins second place with her retro Roquefort and cream mold flavored with parsley and paprika. I don’t usually use powdered gelatin as I had a couple of disasters with it, but it worked like a charm in this recipe. Her molded presentation reminded me of something that Lee Miller might have served at Farleys House. This, like the ricotta, keeps well for a few days in the fridge. Maria serves it with melba rounds, crackers, or party rye, but it is lovely as filling for endive leaves too. Our panel thought the presentation was very elegant and also delightfully retro.

Elysian Cheese Mold

Serves 8
Start this the night before and slip the mold in a container of hot water for a few seconds and it will unmold beautifully on a platter.
Recipe by Maria Pallas.
Adapted from Come for Cocktails, Stay for Supper by Marion Burros.
Prep time
20 minutes
  1. 6 ounces (170gr) softened cream cheese
  2. ½ cup (118ml) Roquefort or other good-quality French blue cheese
  3. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  4. ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  5. 1 teaspoon paprika (can be smoked)
  6. ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  7. 1 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
  8. 1/8 cup cold water
  9. ½ cup boiling water
  10. 1 cup heavy cream, whipped until soft peaks are achieved
  1. Combine the cream cheese and Roquefort cheese with a mixer (hand-held is fine) until smooth.
  2. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt, parsley, and paprika of your choice.
  3. When those are mixed in, soften the gelatin in the 1/8 cup cold water and then add the boiling water to the softened gelatin.
  4. Stir the gelatin mixture until the gelatin is dissolved and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Add the cheese mixture to the gelatin mixture and stir thoroughly.
  6. Allow the combined mixture to chill in the refrigerator until it reaches a jelly-like consistency and then fold in the 1 cup of whipped heavy cream.
  7. Spoon into an oiled mold and refrigerate, covered, until firm.
  8. Dip the mold into hot water for a few seconds to unmold onto your platter.
  9. Decorate with fresh herbs or flowers.
  10. Serve with crackers, melba toasts or party rye.
  1. We decorated the platter with curry plant branches and slices of toasted baguette. Heavenly eye and taste appeal.

Third Prize: Grilled Shrimp in Butter

Butter barbecued shrimp appetizer for Horses Doover (hors d'oeuvres) contest 3rd Place winnerThird-place winner is Kathy Whittenberger. She grills her shrimp (and says it is great way to present frozen shrimp languishing in your freezer) in a pan on the grill. I have found out that heating a cast-iron pan until it is white hot gives you the same barbecue-y result. We bought fresh large wild shrimp at as there is someone in this house who is weird about frozen or farmed seafood. It really takes less than 10 minutes once the shrimp are cleaned. Kathy leaves the shells on so it will slow the guests down, which gives her a chance to have some, too. A major hit with all panelists and our two half-panelists.

Butter Grilled Shrimp

This dish can be made on an outdoor grill or stovetop, in a white-hot cast-iron pan.
Recipe by Kathleen Whittenberger.

Prep time
10 minutes
  1. ¼ pound (113gr) butter
  2. Crushed red pepper to taste
  3. 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped or squeezed through a press
  4. Juice of 1 lemon
  5. 2 pounds (907gr) cleaned shrimp, fresh or thawed (peeling shells is optional)
  6. Lemon slices for the platter (they can be grilled too)
  1. Melt the butter with the crushed pepper, mined garlic, and lemon juice.
  2. If cooking on stovetop, heat a cast-iron pan over high heat, until it is white hot.
  3. Pour the butter mixture over the shrimp and place the shrimp across the pan so that they are not touching.
  4. Add some additional sauce, which will “grill” along with the shrimp.
  5. Once shrimp are cooked on one side, flip and cook on the second side.
  6. As soon as they are pink and opaque, they are done; put them on a platter.
  7. You may have to do batches as you want the shrimp to really have room to grill rather than steam.
  8. On a grill, use an appropriate pan and follow the same procedure.

Enjoy trying all three of our winners and let us know what you think! And if you are sampling any of the winners, here is the cocktail we have been tastefully drinking (always in moderation and never before driving!) while we tested all the Horses Doovers.


Even though the term “spritz” is a leftoveAperol glass designed by Luca Trazzir bit of  cocktail vocabulary when the Veneto area was ruled by the Austo-Vintage Aperol posterHungarian Hapsburgs, this drink is All Italian. Aperol itself was created in Padua by two brothers, Luigi and Silvio Barbierie in 1919 ( the Hapsburgs had left this area of Italy) for a lifestyle fair. Aperol gets its bright color from gentian, a slightly bitter taste from rhubarb and secret herbs and spices. In the period after World War II, aperitivi in the late afternoon became a trend. Aperol’s cleverly designed posters were aimed at both sports-loving men watching TV in bars and women enjoying a libation. The Art Nouveau–inspired posters were used in newspapers, magazines, and of course TV. The combination of Aperol and Prosecco as part of a Veneto “spritz” probably occurred in the 1980s. I personally love the glasses that Luca Trazzi designed for the Aperol Spritz (above) which are sort of a homage to the original Aperol bottle of 1919.

You can see it is pretty simple to make—no crushed ice or big ice cubes are essential—but the Resident Wine Maniac did some serious research into this delightful low-alcohol spritz and found that if blood orange soda is added, you get a more robustly flavored drink. Not stronger, not sweeter, it just has that added je-ne-sais-quoi. Our favorite blood orange soda for this drink is from Effervé.

Kitchen Detail Aperol Spritz

Serves 1
This version of one of the most popular Italian summer cocktails has more “oomph” to it.
Recipe by Robert Pollard.
  1. 2 parts Prosecco
  2. 2 parts Aperol bitter apéritif
  3. 1 part blood orange soda
  4. Orange slice for garnish.
  1. Fill each glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in 1½ ounces Prosecco first, followed by 1½ ounces Aperol,  and top with ¾ ounce blood orange soda.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice.

One thought on “Kitchen Detail: Winning Horses Doovers

  1. Jennifer Reed says:

    Can’t wait to try all of this! Please do the contest quarterly, in line with the seasons. 🙂

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