Monday, November 23, 2009

Fast and Fabulous Holiday Hors d'oeuvres!

It seems like we are all pressed for time around the holidays with shopping, family activities, office parties, and social gatherings. If you are planning a party this year my best advice is to choose a few items to make from scratch and purchase the remainder pre-prepped – like vegetable trays, deli platters and spiral-cut hams. When selecting items you want to make yourself, try to choose simple preparations that won’t stress you out.  Here are a few of my favorite simple, yet elegant, holiday hors d’œuvres

  • Baked Potato Bites with Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Honey
    Buy the smallest baby red skin potatoes you can find. Cut them in half. You can scoop out a little of the center with a melon baller, but it’s not really necessary. Toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place them on a cookie sheet cut-side down. Roast them in a 400ºF oven for 15 minutes or until soft. Turn cut-side up and top with blue cheese crumbles and walnut pieces. Pop them back in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to melt the cheese slightly. Drizzle the potatoes with a touch of honey and serve.

  • Salmon “Mousse” on Endive Spoons
    Combine 8 oz of smoked salmon cream cheese with 8 oz of plain whipped cream cheese. Blend thoroughly. Add salt and lemon pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into a quart size freezer bag. Snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag – about a ¼ inch opening is perfect. Use the bag to pipe the mixture onto Belgian Endive leaves. (If your local grocer doesn’t carry endive, use a water cracker instead.) Top with some lemon zest and a sprig of fresh dill.

  • Brie Brûlée
    Cut the top off of a wheel of brie. Sprinkle the bottom layer with your favorite dried fruit and nuts. I like dried cranberries and pecan pieces or diced dried apricots and slivered almonds. Place the top of the wheel back onto the bottom layer. Bake in a 350ºF oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the brie begins to melt slightly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle generously with brown sugar. Using a kitchen torch, brown the sugar until it bubbles and caramelizes. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, place the wheel of cheese under the broiler of your oven for a couple minutes. (Keep a close eye on it under the broiler so that the sugar doesn’t burn.) Cool slightly then carefully transfer the brie to a cake plate or serving platter. Surround the beautiful caramelized cheese with grape clusters and crackers. This dish will be the perfect centerpiece for your holiday buffet!  

  • What are some of your favorite fast and fabulous holiday hors d’œuvres?

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