Appetizers to usher in the Holiday Cocktail Season

Thanksgiving is almost here, menus are being finalized and shopping lists are being created.  Holiday parties are in full swing and will continue through New Years Day, so having a diversified array of cocktails, appetizers, main and side dishes is a must.

Credit: Martha Stewart

Toasted rustic bread smothered in a warm and tasty spread or dip is an irresistible starter on my menu for each holiday party and Martha Stewart’s site has a delightful assortment to choose from.  As I always suggest, browse around the site links provided.

Warm Fennel and Parmesan Dip.  Roast garlic and fennel, puree and sprinkle in the cheese.  Transfer to baking dish and bake until hot in center and cheese is golden brown.  The complete ingredients list and instructions can be found here.

I have a weakness for olives of every kind.  I don’t feel a cocktail party is complete until they are in attendance.  I took a quick trip over to Food and Wine to find a new recipe to add to my collection and stumbled upon a spicy gem.  The complete recipe can be found here.

Photo Credit: Wendell T. Webber
-for Food and Wine

Marinated Olives ~ this recipe makes 2 pounds

  • 1 pound Nicoise olives ( 2 1/2 cups )
  • 1 pound Pieholine olives ( 2 1/2 cups )
  • 5 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon rushed red pepper
  • Zest strips from 1 orange cut into fine julienne
  • About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. In a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Rinse the olives in a large strainer; drain well.  Transfer the olives to a medium bowl.  Stir in the toasted fennel seeds garlic, crushed red pepper and orange zest and add enough olive oil to cover.  Let stand at room temperature for at least  hours before serving.
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

Hanging around Martha’s site yielded some great results this afternoon.  The combination of flavors in this next appetizer has my head bubbling and brewing with inspiration and possibilities of pairings and combinations.  The full recipe can be found here

Baked Brie with Pecans ~ Serves 8

  • 1 small wheel of Brie or Camembert ( about 9 ounces )
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • crackers or sliced baguette, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cheese on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until softened 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer to a serving plate; cool about 20 minutes.
  2. While cheese cools, place nuts on a clean baking sheet; bake until toasted and fragrant 7 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle over cheese.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Drizzle warm sauce over slightly cooled cheese and nuts; serve with crackers or baguette.  Full recipe here
Photo: Chow

Something sweet added to the menu is always a grand idea for a bit of a nibble here and there.  Saveur Magazine featured Chow’s Toasted Cashew and Bacon Brittle and I couldn’t resist adding it to the docket.  The ingredient list is cashews, bacon, granulated sugar, water and salt.  It serves 8 – 10, makes about a pound and can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an air tight container at room temp.  You can find the full recipe here








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