The Main Menu: Recipes to make the holiday appetizer season easier

We are entering the holiday appetizer season and Jan Main has some recipes to help make it easy.

“What can I bring?”

“Just bring an appetizer. Something to have with a glass of wine.”

“Just bring an appetizer.” – Yuk! My heart sinks!

We are moving into the season of the Appetizer, Nibble or hors d’oeuvre. Call it what you will, as noted, these are the munchies you have with drinks. People often make a meal of these delectable morsels. Coming up with a fresh idea can create a challenge!

As usual when faced with this conundrum, I turn to “tried and true” recipes of friends with whom I have enjoyed their yummy offerings.

Here they are for your happy munching!

Herbed Refrigerator Cookies

These melt in your mouth goodies were sampled at our book club Christmas festivity some years ago. They were Ruth Wolff’s contribution. I still remember their fragrant taste!

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh, finely chopped thyme, tarragon or rosemary
1 cup (250 mL) soft butter
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1 egg
Fresh herbs for garnishing

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and herbs. In separate bowl using an electric mixer beat butter and sugar together until fluffy then beat in egg. Gradually beat in the flour mixture on low (so flour does not fly all over) to create a soft, heavy dough.

Divide into four equal portions. Using the plastic wrap to help you, sprinkle dough lightly with flour and roll each portion into logs about 20 x 3 centimetres. Remove to baking sheet; repeat with remaining portions to create four logs then refrigerate or freeze until ready to slice and bake.

To bake, remove dough from refrigerator to soften; pre-heat oven to 325 F (170C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper; slice dough into ¼ inch (6 mm) circles. Arrange circles on baking sheet; bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes about 10 dozen cookies. May be stored up to 1 week in an airtight container. For longer storage freeze for up to 6 months.

Blue Cheese Terrine with Fruit and Nuts

Dorothy Armenic made this tasty terrine for the same Christmas book club gathering. Dorothy says the only trick is to GENTLY combine the cheese. If using a creamy cheese like Gorgonzola you must pull it apart rather than crumble it.

I still remember the luscious combination of sweet and sour flavour on crispy crackers. Yum!

10 oz (280 g) blue cheese
1 pkg (5 oz/142 g) soft goat cheese or cream cheese crumbled or pulled apart
1 cup (250 mL) mixture dried fruit finely chopped such as apricots, dried cranberries or prunes
1 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) brandy, sherry or whisky
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh chopped thyme or 1/4 (1 mL) dried
Pinch of black pepper

Garnish

1 tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey
1/2 cup (125 mL) each, pecans and almonds or walnuts

Line an 8×4 inch (1.4 mL) loaf pan with plastic wrap. Leaving enough overhang to cover and seal top. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine blue cheese, goat cheese, apricots, cranberries and prunes. Drizzle with honey, brandy, thyme and pepper. Gently toss to combine.
Scrape mixture into prepared pan; fold plastic wrap over to cover and press down lightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Garnish: Toast nuts on parchment paper lined baking sheet in preheated 350 F (180 C) oven for about 8-10 minutes. Cool. Drizzle honey over to coat.
To serve terrine, invert on a serving platter, gently remove plastic wrap; discard. Surround with nuts and serve with crispy wafers. Makes about 10 servings.

Roasted Carrot Dip

Noella Kyser presented this imaginative dip at one of our monthly gatherings. It met with rave reviews especially as it is good served with gluten-free biscuits bread or sliced veggies, ideal for people with allergies.

1/2 cup (125 mL) natural almonds, toasted
2 lbs (about 6) carrots, peeled
2 tbsp plus 2 tbsp (25 mL) plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tsp (7mL) salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup (125 mL) white kidney beans or chickpeas
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) smoked paprika
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle almonds on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

On same sheet arrange peeled carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces, tossed with 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt, evenly on baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour or until very tender and starting to brown, about 1 hour.

Add carrots to food processor with garlic, beans, lemon juice, pepper, paprika, parsley ½ cup olive oil, ½ tsp salt and almonds.
Process until mixture is smooth adding more olive oil if necessary.

Taste, adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes about 3 cups (750 mL).


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