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Cynthia Stone: Party platter

Koftas with Yogurt Sauce are a hit at parties, and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, they taste great on pitas. — Cynthia Stone photo
Koftas with Yogurt Sauce are a hit at parties, and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, they taste great on pitas. — Cynthia Stone photo

This weekend, whether you’re celebrating the past or welcoming the future, I hope you have something special planned to mark the end of 2017. As always, I’ll cook for family and friends and toast their good health.

Whatever type of celebration you’re hosting you’ll need a few no-fail and fabulous dishes that will appeal to everyone on your guest list. I think I might have something suitable. These are three of my go-to, always-count-on, delicious party makers.


Koftas and Yogurt Sauce

Everybody has a meatball recipe to make for or take to a time. This version is from far away with warm flavors that are perfect for our winter.

Lamb and beef make the ideal combination but you can use all one or the other.

Make these in the traditional meatball shape or elongate them to look like fat little cocktail weenies for a bit of added interest.

These amounts make about 24 koftas. If you have lots of tidbits on offer people will take only one but when they taste them there might be a row over what’s left.


½ cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup plain yogurt, any fat content
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground lamb
1 egg
1-1/2 tsps. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. each ground cumin and coriander
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 medium yellow onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, grated
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

Yogurt Dip:

2 cups thick plain yogurt, any fat content
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ cup finely diced peeled cucumber
½ cup finely diced tomato
1 green onion, finely chopped, green and white part
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint, optional
½ tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, stir together bread crumbs and yogurt and allow to sit 10 minutes. Add remaining kofta ingredients and mix gently—and as little as possible—until thoroughly combined. Form into 24 oblong meatballs and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Fry in a little vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over low heat, turning around from time to time so they brown all over and are cooked through the middle. If you prefer you can bake on a greased baking sheet at 400 degrees F 20 minutes or until cooked through.

For the yogurt dip, combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you’re lucky enough to have a few left over pile them, with yogurt dip, in a pita bread for a great wrap.


Baked BBQ Chicken Bites

Everybody loves wings but nobody likes the bones. These are easier to eat, just as delicious and pack fewer calories to boot.

If you prefer light over dark meat go ahead, but thighs stay juicy for the long haul.

Buttermilk works best in this recipe but you can thin out some plain yogurt with milk for a good result. Panko crumbs are crispier but you can substitute regular dry bread crumbs if you like.

The sauce is sweet, tangy and mildly spicy but feel empowered to suit your tastes. Use a bottle of store-bought sauce to ease the party preparation.

This amount of chicken makes 24 bites.


12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko or dry bread crumbs
1 tsp. each dry mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder and paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano

BBQ Sauce:

2 cups ketchup
¼ cup each lemon juice, malt vinegar and water
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. grated onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ to 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
½ tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Cut each thigh in half and soak in buttermilk at least two hours but overnight is fine. Remove chicken and shake off the excess buttermilk.

Dip in flour then beaten egg. Combine bread crumbs with remaining ingredients and dip chicken in crumb mixture, pressing gently to help the coating adhere.

Place on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake at 475 degrees F about 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through with brown crispy bits on the outside.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Serve on or with the chicken bites.


These Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches make great two-bite savoury treats. — Cynthia Stone photo
These Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches make great two-bite savoury treats. — Cynthia Stone photo


Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches


Here’s a pretty-to-look-at and easy-to-make two-bite party maker that needs to be in your recipe box. Double or triple these quantities as you must — you can count on people taking at least two.

By all means make your own pastry but I can’t quibble with the convenience of those little frozen tart shells when the filling is this delicious.

3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup whipping or coffee cream
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
1 cup finely diced cooked ham
1 cup shredded smoked gouda or any cheese you like
2 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
24 small frozen tart shells, thawed 30 minutes at room temperature

Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, milk, cream, mustard, pepper, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Stir together ham, cheese and onions and divide among tart shells. Fill with egg and milk custard to just under the rim so you don’t get overflow.

Bake at 375 degrees F 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and the middles puff up—they will fall back as they cool. Serve hot, warm or cold.


Cynthia Stone is an information manager and writer in St. John’s. E-mail questions to her at

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