Now is the time to get started on your holiday party planning because, before you know it, the big day will arrive and you want to be prepared!!! Even if you aren’t having a big holiday get-together, it pays to keep a back up handy for those merry visitors who pop by unexpectedly.
First and foremost, let’s do away with the tired spread of chips and dips, spinach dip and teriyaki meatballs. Now I’m not saying that these aren’t delicious, quite the opposite—I love a good meatball! But likely you will be running into these go-to appetizers over and over again this holiday season; why not try something sure to dazzle the taste buds?
One tip for sure holiday success is to make appetizers ahead or buy quick-assemble ingredients ahead for easy weekday entertaining—cheese, fruit pastes, marcona almonds served with crostini or pita chips. Dish D’Lish tomato jam with cambozola is my favorite on rustic crackers like Essential flat breads. And don’t be afraid to dress up store-bought items and make them look like your own.
Keep appetizers simple and down to three steps if possible (no little smokies in the Crock-Pot with mustard and grape jam please!) Pick up a jar of Peppadew Peppers available at most deli olive bars or at Dish D’Lish in Ballard, and stuff with creamy goat cheese and a marcona almond — sprinkled with chopped parsley… so very festive!
Recipes follow for a couple of my favorite apps –ones quick and easy the other is a bit more labor intensive — but worth the work!
PARMESAN POPPYSEED PUFFS
Makes about 50 puffs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated high-quality Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Place the water, milk, butter, salt, and garlic in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
All at once, add the flour, stirring it in quickly with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring—the mixture will come away from the sides of the pan and become thick and stiff. Continue stirring and turning over for about 1 minute. (You want to dry the mixture out a bit.)
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and, with a hand-held or standing mixer, beat on medium-high speed. Add 1 of the eggs.
As soon as the egg is partially incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high. Add the remaining eggs, ONE AT A TIME, when each previous egg is well incorporated. (THIS IS IMPORTANT) The mixture should be smooth.
Set the dough aside for 5 minutes, then stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan.
Let the dough cool for about 15 minutes before piping or shaping.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. You will need 2 or 3 baking sheets, or work in batches. (If you don’t have parchment, lightly spray baking sheets with nonstick vegetable spray and watch the bottoms of the cheese puffs closely to prevent over browning.) Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls—they should be the size of large marbles—onto the parchment. (You can also pipe the dough using a pastry bag and a large plain tip.)
Mix together the poppy seeds and remaining 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan. Sprinkle the top of each dough ball with a little of the mixture.
Bake on the upper rack of the oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until puffs are golden. Serve warm. You can make these a few hours in advance, keep at room temperature, then reheat in a hot oven for a few minutes.
Chef’s Tips: If you’re short of baking sheets, have more dough balls ready on sheets of parchment. When a batch of puffs is done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, pull off the parchment filled with cooked puffs, and quickly place a waiting parchment sheet of dough balls onto the baking sheet.
Recipe Copyright © 2008 by Kathy Casey.
GOAT CHEESE, CHIVE, AND BLUEBERRY LAVENDER CHUTNEY CROSTINI
6 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
1 jar Dish D’Lish Blueberry Lavender Chutney
Crostini (recipe follows) or rustic crackers
Garnish: tiny sprigs of fresh thyme
In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese and chives. Spread your favorite crostini or crackers with the mixture and top with dollops of Blueberry Lavender Chutney. Garnish each piece with a tiny sprig of fresh thyme.
Makes about 40 crostini
1 long, skinny French baguette, sliced on bias into 1/4-inch slices
Olive oil, as needed
1 teaspoon Dish D’Lish French Seasoning Salt or kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly brush baguette slices with olive oil. Place bread in a single layer on baking sheets, sprinkle with French Seasoning Salt, and toast until just crispy. Let cool before storing.
Chef’s Tip: Crostini can be made in advance, cooled THOROUGHLY, and stored in airtight containers for up to 3 days. If necessary, re-crisp in a hot oven for a couple of minutes.