‘Tis the Season: Holiday Appetizers🎄Round 2 - No. 172
Your great ideas + my 3 recipes + a contest winner! + 5 gifts for the baker + that retro oyster cracker recipe we almost forgot about.
YOU ARE AMAZING. I ASKED FOR your best ideas for easy holiday appetizers, and it must have hit a nerve. Perhaps we were all tired of turkey and the trimmings?
I have perused and drooled over your suggestions in the comments of Tuesday’s post. Thank you! And I name a winner below. Appetizers are interesting in the way we pair them with each other, present them on the table, and how accessible we make them to our friends. The three recipes I share at the end can all be gluten-free.
First up, the spreads.
They’re absolutely do-ahead. No double-dipping and super-sanitary. Pull out those cute holiday spreaders that have made their way to the back of the drawer. Leftovers are wonderful on a sandwich.
Sally’s Cranberry Spread pictured. Orange and cranberry come together in bliss.
Whipped feta and lemon spread. Sarah M’s suggestion to channel Ina and blend feta, cream cheese, and a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the food processer. Serve with crackers or veggies, but you can also spread it on crostini with cucumbers, tomatoes, a drizzle of honey, figs, whatever you like. I like it all!
Smoked salmon spread is similar, and also from Sarah M. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream, then add lemon juice and chopped dill. Fold in chunks of smoked salmon. Serve with bagel chips and veggies.
Elisabet’s Olive Tapenade. Her recipe is in the comments from Tuesday!
These might involve baking. But anyone who heats an oven for an appetizer demands a standing ovation, right? Truth is, these can be made ahead, too. Shh, shh!
Shellie’s ‘’Fried’’ Pickles. Check out her recipe in Tuesday’s comments. So much fun! I’m thinking you could make ahead and reheat on a sheet pan.
Rachel bakes stars out of puff pastry, and she shared the how-to plus a Pinterest link. Anything puff pastry bakes best at 375 degrees F. Perfect for entertaining children. They will marvel as the stars grow in the oven so leave the oven light on!
Pecan Cheese Wafers. Bake ahead and keep in a metal tin. Change up the cheese if you like, but stick with pecans. Recipe is below.
Nuts & Bolts. Nancy offers her recipe in the comments and Paula adds some twists to make these your own and so much better than the bag. And then there’s Dayna’s Firecrackers. Make them as gifts!
Popcorn. Yes! Pop it fresh, toss with nutritional yeast and serve in a polished silver bowl. Make sure the microwave is done before guests arrive or your secret’s out of the bag, so to speak! Leah Koenig over at The Jewish Table tosses her popcorn with fried capers, kosher salt, and dried dill - how fabulous is that?
Olivettes. What happens when an olive and a cheese straw go on a date. Bake them fresh or freeze unbaked. Recipe is below.
And unapologetic. It’s all in the presentation, right? No one mentioned the wrapping a round of brie in puff pastry and baking until golden, or is that too ‘80? I still love it with chutney or apricot preserves to the side. Or just cover the top of a warm brie in pomegranate seeds—so festive!
Shrimp Cocktail. Thanks, Jolene! And if you offer a variety of dipping sauces (do merryrose which is half mayo and half cocktail sauce, and honey-mustard, addition to the usual cocktail), things get interesting. Serve seasoned oyster crackers to the side, and that recipe is at the end. Thanks Julie via Kathleen for reminding me about them.
Merry Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes go swimming in vodka. Lisa shared her recipe in the comments and suggests a lemon-flavored vodka. I’m thinking cherry tomatoes in all colors and with frilly toothpicks. I’m also thinking a designated driver.
Lauretta’s block of cream cheese smothered in cocktail sauce with tiny salad shrimp on top. It goes with Wheat Thins.
Onion-olive cheesy toast. Lauretta’s sister-in-law’s mix of equal parts chopped black olives, mayonnaise, green onions, and grated cheddar, spread on a thinly sliced baguette and broiled.
Costco spanakopita. My big cheat. Follow package directions. Cut in half before serving.
Check out Leigh’s great idea for layering good olive oil with fire-roasted chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta and seasoning salt.
And Rachel’s olives…’’gussy up jarred olives with flavour infused oils, whole spices like fennel or cumin seeds, different kinds of chilli flakes, citrus zest. etc.’’
Who knew impressive could be easy?
The Cheese Ball. Thank you Ruth and Paula for sharing my love of cheese balls and offering the link to David Leibovitz’s cheese ball, which is a riff on Vivian Howard’s recipe. Let the cheese ball be the star but build out from it with crackers, other cheeses, fruit, dried fruit, holiday greenery, toasted pecans or almonds in little bowls, and you have a grand ball!
Smoked salmon and trimmings. Mince white onion, red onion, green onion (it’s Christmas!) plus hard-cooked eggs and parsley. Arrange around the slab of salmon, adding capers, lemon wedges and buttery French bread rounds plus slices of cucumbers for your gluten-free friends.
Skillet roasted cherry tomatoes with a round - or two - of Boursin or soft goat cheese plopped in center and baked for the last 5 minutes until soft and spreadable. Serve right from the skillet with little knives, Kalamata olives, and crusty bread or rice crackers.
As promised, some gift ideas for the baker…
Baking Steel for super crispy pizza and flatbreads.
White Lammas cake flour and other artisan flours for baking from Anson Mills.
Thermapen instant-read thermometer. Invaluable.
Pecans from Schermer. Pecan flour, too. The best pecans ever!