Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holiday Appetizers

Here are two of my favorite holiday appetizers for entertaining or bringing to a party. One light and one heavy. (You can also see some of my other favorite holiday appetizers here.)

Light appetizer of choice:

via

Creamy Beet Dip with White Crudités

Who doesn't love a good dip? My friend Marla brought this for Thanksgiving last year, and I plan to make it again this year. Not only is it very pretty and stunning on a holiday table, I loved the tanginess from the vinegar and sour cream matched against the sweetness of the beets. She served it with cauliflower, endive and fennel for dipping. Serve in a white bowl with the crudités on a white platter for an extra bold look. 

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 medium beets (1 pound), peeled and coarsely shredded on a box grater (2 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cups sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the beets and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beets are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and honey and cook uncovered over high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated completely and the beets are very tender and dry, about 6 minutes longer.

Scrape the beet mixture onto a large plate and let cool. Fold in the sour cream and season with salt and pepper.

MAKE AHEAD The beet dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. SERVE WITH Cauliflower, endive, celery, fennel, toasted baguette slices and pita chips.

Heavy appetizer of choice:


Superbowl baked brie

Baked Brie with Apricot Preserves and Almonds

Always, always a hit and ridiculously easy to put together.  You can also customize it to the occasion. I like to make cut-outs with the extra puff pastry and place them on top. I've made Christmas trees and stars and even footballs and helmets for the Superbowl party. If you're hosting, it's fun to delegate this dish to someone who can have the chance to be creative! Depending on the size of your party, you can do a whole wheel of brie or a triangle shaped chunk. 

Just noticed Lola's snout down there trying to worm her way into some puff pastry

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
2-3 Tbsp apricot preserves (or more if you prefer)
3-4 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1 wheel or triangle shaped piece of brie
1 egg + 1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make an egg wash by lightly beating the egg with a tsp of water.

Lightly flour a work surface and unfold the puff pastry. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the pastry to about 1/8" thick. Spread half of the apricot preserves in the middle of the pastry in the shape of the piece of brie. Sprinkle with half the almonds. Place the brie on top and spread the remaining apricot preserves and almonds on top of the cheese.

Fold the puff pastry over the cheese to form a sealed crust all around the cheese. Trim any extra pastry and set aside. Glue the pastry shut with the egg wash. (Dip you finger in the egg wash, shake off any extra and gently run it across the edge of the pastry you want to seal shut. Press the pastry shut with your fingers to seal it.)

Place the pastry seam side down in a shallow oven save serving dish or bowl.

Optional but highly recommended: Use the pastry scraps that you trimmed away to make festive shapes. Decorate the top of the pastry.

Using a pastry brush, brush the entire pastry with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Don't over bake or your cheese will ooze out the sides and become dried out. Let stand for 30 minutes to an hour before cutting into it. (This is extremely difficult, but you will be happy you've waited. If you cut in too soon, the brie will be very runny making it difficult for people to serve themselves. A runny brie also doesn't make for a very pretty dish.) Serve with toasted baguette.

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