What better way to kick off the holiday season than with palette-pleasing appetizers? Every party needs them and every guest comes expecting them. The time of fruitcake has long passed, so put on your chef’s hat and turn up the Nat King Cole—it’s party time! Tips: When preparing hors d’oeuvres, remember these no-fail guidelines: - When selecting the hor d’oeuvres, keep in mind the nature of the event. Heavy selections will work well if a meal is not being served, while bite-size options are a good prelude to the meal. - Presentation goes a long way. Thoughtfully style your platter or tray so that the last guest is not rummaging through jumbled garnishes. - Pay attention to temperature. Cold appetizers should be kept cold, and likewise, hot appetizers taste best when served hot. Strawberry Salsa and Grilled Flat bread Ingredients: 1 lb. strawberries, preferably organic, sliced thin 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice ¼ tsp. salt 5 green onions, thinly sliced ½ cup yellow onion, chopped 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped ½ cup cilantro, chopped ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 4 pieces flat bread or pita bread Directions: Step 1. Brush flat bread with olive oil. Grill or toast in the oven. Step 2. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours. Step 3. Serve with flat bread cut into triangles. Goat Cheese Canapes and Roasted Pepper Salad Ingredients: 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded 2 green bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded 2 yellow green peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded 8 oz. soft fresh goat cheese ½ cup sour cream Thickly sliced bread (or hearty crackers) Shaved or shredded Parmesan ½ cup toasted almonds Dressing: 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette ½ cup red onion, chopped ½ cup black olives ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped 1 jalapeño, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced Directions: Step 1. Cut the peppers into ½ inch strips. Step 2. Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor and pulse to emulsify. Step 3. Pour dressing over peppers and toss to combine. Hold at room temperature. Step 4. Cut bread slices into small circles with a biscuit cutter and toast. Allow to cool. Crackers are a good substitute. Step 5. Blend the goat cheese and sour cream until smooth. Spread a thin layer over the canapé (bread) or cracker. Step 6. Mound about 1 Tbsp. of the pepper salad onto each goat cheese-covered canapé and finish with fresh Parmesan and a sprinkle of toasted almonds.
December 3, 2013