12 Days of Christmas: 12 Easy Appetizers
The 12 APPS of CHRISTMAS
I recently held a class on appetizers; my challenge was to come up with easy to assemble appetizers that maximize flavor while minimizing time. I probably could have presented half a dozen, but what with the spirit of Christmas I couldn't help myself: 12 appetizers for the '12 Days of Christmas.' (Just click on links to find recipes). Next, I organized them according to need: 4 make ahead appetizers, 4 easy to assemble appetizers and 4 last minute apps. I hope you just laughed and rubbed your hands together. I know I did:
MAKE AHEAD (not hard---just a bit of forethought and/or oven time)
- Crostini with goat cheese, roasted peppers - make crostini in advance, spread with goat cheese and top with peppers. I marinated the peppers in this dip. You can char and peel your own peppers OR buy them in a jar. (Can sub mozzarella).
- Roasted garlic, cambazola, artisan bread - roast garlic for 60 - 90 minutes; put on plate with wedge of cambazola cheese and slices of focaccia. Drizzle garlic heads with olive oil.
- Pinwheels (recipe follows) - prosciutto + Gruyere = happy. Make in advance, chill. Then slice and bake when ready.
- Endive apple blue cheese bites - make the apple/celery salad, place spoon on each endive leaf. Can be made earlier same day and refrigerated.
EASY ASSEMBLY (a little of this, a little of that)
- Sausage bites plus mustard - splurge on good sausage (I picked artisan German sausage), and grill/cook. Store in fridge. When ready: slice into 3/4 inch segments, stand them upright with toothpicks and serve with small bowl of good mustard (I chose a walla walla sweet onion and garlic mustard). Can be served room temp/cold.
- Brie with apricots, pecans and cranberries - so easy. Find some dried fruit (craisins, dried apricots or cherries, blueberries) and spiced nuts (I buy chili pepitas and make chipolte pecans or sugared walnuts). Roughly chop nuts/fruit, place on top of brie and warm for 10 minutes in 350 degree oven. Serve warm with crackers. Looks great on cake plate!
- Focaccia & olive oil balsamic dipping sauce - Quickly assemble olive oil dip. Slice focaccia. Pick cool platter and serve.
- Crostini---the long way---with olive tapenade - forget the petite slicing of a large baguette and make one large, horizontal slice. Drizzle with olive oil, grind on some S&P and bake for 10 minutes or until edges start to crisp. Remove from oven and while still warm, rub face of bread with raw garlic. A large baguette will require 4-5 cloves of garlic for a good rub. Slice into wedges and serve with olive tapenade. You can buy your favorite olive tapenade, OR make your own by blending a jar of drained kalamata olives with some of this dip.
LAST MINUTE (ideally from stuff you have on hand)
- Pesto, goat cheese, pine nuts - your 2 year old can put this together. Take a log of goat cheese, smoosh onto plate, top with pesto---store bought or homemade---and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
- Goat cheese Christmas log - (you can actually make this ahead, too). All I did was chop up toasted pistachios and dried cranberries. Roll the goat cheese log in this smattering of green and red and call it Christmas. I often tuck this cheerful yule log on top of rosemary sprigs.
- Cheese, artisan jam and specialty crackers - Open jar, unwrap cheese and dump crackers. As easy as that. I make my own preserves, but you can buy fantastic jams too! Ideas:red pepper jelly with goat cheese, brandied fig jam with blue cheese, peach salsa with Manchego, Parmesan with Chianti jelly).
- Truffle popcorn. Need I say more?
Prosciutto and Gruyere Pinwheels Makes about 40 hors d'oeuvres.
3/4 cup grated Gruyère (or Fontina, Parmesan, etc.) 1 heaping T fresh sage leaves, finely chopped OR 1-2 T dried herbs, a combination of any: oregano, sage, marjoram, thyme) 2 puff pastry sheets (one box) thawed and slightly rolled out 1 large egg, beaten lightly 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
In a bowl combine Gruyère/cheese and sage/herbs. On a lightly floured surface roll out pastry. Brush all edges of dough with beaten egg. Arrange 1 layer of prosciutto (yes the full slices) evenly on top of pastry, avoiding egg-brushed edge; top with Gruyère mixture. Starting with the long side, roll pastries into a log and wrap in wax paper/saran wrap. Chill seams down until firm, an hour and up to 3 days. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pinwheels and arrange on baking sheets; bake 15 minutes or until they start to brown. Plate and serve warm.