Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seasonal Plate Food Column

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” 

― Charles Dickens

Sip, savor and enjoy some warm winter drinks and appetizers to whet your appetite before the main course. Try online recipe searches for Glogg, a Scandinavian Christmas mulled drink, mulled apple cider or Gluhwein, an Austrian mulled spiced wine specialty.
Pear and Caramelized Onion Crostini
Cook’s notes: Makes 12 crostini appetizers. Recipe can be easily doubled. To save time toast bread slices early in the day as well as making caramelized pear and onion mixture. Refrigerate pear and onion mixture; assemble crostini and heat right before serving.
Ingredients:

  • 1 sourdough baguette or a firm Artisan bread, sliced 
  • olive oil to brush on bread slices
  • 1 TB. olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 2 TB. balsamic vinegar, Cinnamon Pear Balsamic or Aged Fig Balsamic 
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2 TB. brown sugar
  • 2 pears, peeled, sliced and recut into small chunks
  • 2-1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions 
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • garlic and herb goat cheese, crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola cheese
Directions:
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Brush both sides of cut bread with olive oil. Toast one side only 3 minutes until golden. Remove pan from oven, set aside.
  • In a large fry pan add 1 TB. olive oil and 2 TB. butter. Cook on low heat until butter is melted. Add onions to the pan and continue cooking until onions are caramelized about 8-10 minutes. 
  • Mix balsamic with brown sugar and add to pan with chopped pear chunks.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon over the pears, sauté pears and onions about 5 minutes.
  • Spread a thin layer of cheese on toasted side of the crostini. Use a slotted spoon to place pear and onion mixture on top of cheese layer. 
  • Bake 4 minutes at 425 degrees and serve immediately.
Cherry-Brandied Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
Cook’s notes: Meatballs can be made with a combination of lean beef and pork, venison or ground turkey. A time saver is using prepared frozen meatballs. For this recipe the sauce was enough for one 14 oz. bag of mini-meatballs from Simek’s (56 meatballs)
Ingredients:
  • 1-14 oz. bag of frozen mini-meatballs, thawed or homemade prepared meatballs
  • 1-10 oz. bag frozen pitted dark cherries, thawed or 1-17 oz. can pitted dark sweet cherries with juice 
  • 1 TB. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. each cinnamon and ground ginger
  • dash of allspice
  • 1 TB. lemon juice 
  • 1 TB. balsamic vinegar, Black Cherry Balsamic or Dark Chocolate Balsamic 
  • ¼ cup cherry preserves
  • optional 1-2 TB. Kirsch (cherry brandy) 
Directions:


  • Pour cherries with juices into blender and puree. 
  • In a large saucepan use a whisk to combine cornstarch, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and allspice. Add in pureed cherries, cherry preserves, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk to blend. 
  • Cook and stir over low heat for 3 minutes stirring frequently until it starts to thicken. Add Kirsch and meatballs to sauce, cook covered on low 15 minutes. 
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus in Puff Pastry
Cook’s notes: The recipe makes 6 large appetizers. It can be easily doubled using two sheets of puff pastry. Thinly sliced deli ham can be substituted for prosciutto. This appetizer would pair well with soups.
Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 18 spears of asparagus (cut each spear in half and discard the stem portion)
  • 6 pieces of prosciutto or ham
  • Garlic-Herb Goat Cheese or Boursin Garlic Herb Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup each chopped mushrooms and onions
  • 1 egg
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • sesame seeds
Directions:
  • Thaw puff pastry sheet in wrapper about an hour. 
  • Chop mushrooms and onions, place in a bowl. Set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Flour a large sheet of wax paper and roll pastry slightly. Cut into 6 square pieces. 
  • Spread a layer of cheese on each pastry square and add 1 TB. mushroom/onion mixture in the center. Wrap 3 asparagus spears with prosciutto and place on the square diagonally. 
  • Fold three sides of pastry over asparagus leaving tips exposed. Scrunch the end of the pastry puff together. Beat the egg and brush pastry lightly with egg mixture. Sprinkle sesame seeds on each pastry and grate Parmesan cheese over the top of pastry. 
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

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