New Years Eve is coming up quickly. But any time you have a party, the most important thing is recipe ideas that are easy, quick and may be made ahead. Another criterion for me is that no utensils be required to eat the appetizers. This saves on cleanup time later, but also keeps from having to be concerned if there are enough forks or spoons to go around.
1. Pistachio and Almond Paste Filled Apricots.
These can be made days ahead and kept refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. You will need a bag or more of dried apricots, a can of Almond Paste and a bag of shelled pistachios. These are best made with fresh, soft apricots. Open up the pocket in the apricot and pinch off a small piece of the almond paste. Roll it into a small oval and stuff it into the apricot. Press one or two pistachios into the almond paste and done. Repeat with as many as needed. One can of almond paste will fill about 30 or more apricots.
2. Prosciutto and Pear
These will need to be made the day of the party. You will need a container of the very thinly sliced prosciutto slices and pears. Open the prosciutto and cut the whole slab in half. Separate the thin slices. Slice and core the pears, then cut into thin wedges. Dip the pear wedges into a bowl of water with the juice of one lemon. This will prevent the pear wedges from turning brown. Wrap a piece of the prosciutto around the pear wedge and arrange artfully on a plate.
3. Smokies in Puff Pastry
These may be made a day ahead and reheated briefly. Little Smokies are seen wrapped in premade crescent roll dough, but I find these far too salty. Use puff pastry sheets instead. Allow the pastry to thaw thoroughly. Flour a surface and place one of the unfolded sheets down and sprinkle more flour over top. Roll out the dough as evenly square as possible, to about 14 x 14 inches or so. With a knife or pastry cutter slice strips about 1 1/2 inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long. Open a pack of little smokies and place one on a pastry strip. Roll up the strip, wetting the end of the dough so it will stick together. Continue until all the smokies are used. Place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden. If made ahead, reheat for about 7 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
4. Pepper Cheese Swirls
These may be made ahead and kept in a tightly sealed container. You will need puff pastry sheets for this appetizer, plus some very good cracked pepper, melted butter for brushing, a container of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, some good quality coarse sea salt and pine nuts, optional. Roll out a thawed sheet of puff pastry dough as above. Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, grind on the cracked pepper to taste. If you love pepper, use quite a bit and it gives wonderful spiciness. Sprinkle on just a little of the coarse sea salt. If using pine nuts, strew over as desired. Roll up the pastry into a long log. Slice into 1/4 inch slices and lay onto a baking sheet at least an inch apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes, until golden.
5. Caprese Bites
These can be made a day ahead. You will need little cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, basil and toothpicks. Cut one tomato in half across. Push a toothpick into the domed top of one half. Thread on one mozzarella pearl, then the other half of the tomato, making a little sandwich of the mozzarella. Arrange these on a plate. Make a stack of the basil leaves, and then roll them together tightly. Slice across very finely to chiffonade and sprinkle the little basil shreds over the Caprese Bites. These may be served sprinkled with Balsamic vinegar, or the balsamic may be served on the side. Another option is to boil the balsamic vinegar to reduce by half, and serve this balsamic syrup alongside the Caprese bites.
Enjoy your holiday party, stress free.
About The Author
My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.
My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own.
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