Holiday Entertaining Guide - Page 26 - Appetizers as main attraction (2)

Holiday Entertaining Guide
- Page 26
Appetizers as main attraction (2)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook diced onions, bell pepper and sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain.

Stir in garlic and thyme; cook 1 minute.

Stir in wine; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Add cream cheese, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cream cheese is melted. Stir in spinach and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

Gently stir in beans.

Pour mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. (If skillet is ovenproof, bake dip in the skillet, if desired.) Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with chips, pepper strips, pita chips or pretzels.

Parmesan crisps
Yield: 15 crisps

This Italian appetizer is called frico. It can easily be doubled or tripled. Adapted from “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof,” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, 2012).

• 1 (4-ounce) piece of Parmesan Reggiano (without the rind)
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Grate the cheese, using the large grating side of a box grater. Combine cheese, flour, thyme and pepper in a bowl and mix well. With a measuring spoon, spoon level tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans, spreading each round into a 3-inch disk. Toss the mixture each time and scoop from the bottom of the bowl to be sure you get some flour in each spoonful. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool on the pans for 5 minutes, loosen with a metal spatula, then cool completely on a baking rack. Serve at room temperature.

Citrus spritzer
Yield: 6 servings

To make this into an adult beverage, add a splash or two of sparkling wine or gin.This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. From “Fun Food Fast!” from Good Housekeeping (Hearst Communications, 2015).

• 2 cups orange juice
• 2 cups lemon-lime seltzer
• 2 seedless navel oranges, thinly sliced
• 2 limes, thinly sliced

Combine orange juice, seltzer, oranges and limes in a pitcher. Chill for 30 minutes before serving over ice.

Celery stalks stuffed with blue cheese and apples
Yield: about 30 pieces

Recipe tester substituted good-quality blue cheese for the Gorgonzola dolce, the milder variety. From “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine,” by Lidia Bastianich (Alfred Knopf, 2015).

• 4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce, room temperature
• 3/4 cup mascarpone, room temperature
• 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored but unpeeled, finely diced
• 10 inner celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 3 pieces each
• 1/2 cup inner celery leaves, for garnish

In medium bowl, mash together the blue cheese and marscarpone until smooth. Stir in the diced apple, and mix well.

Use a teaspoon to stuff the mixture into the celery stalks. Chill for an hour before serving and serve garnished with the celery leaves.