Butternut Squash and Cheddar Dip.
tough to survive the holidays without putting on a few extra
pounds. All those parties and family get-togethers have a
way of tempting us with tasty treats that aren’t exactly
calorie-conscious. From the cookies and other sugary sweets
to the endless parade of mini-quiches and bacon-wrapped
shrimp, we’re doomed if we dare show up even the tiniest
bit hungry. And that doesn’t even take into account the
could offer to party-throwers a menu of heart-healthy
recipes, but let’s be honest: Party-goers crave something
they know isn’t especially good for them.
the challenge: You want your food to be so delicious-looking
that it makes everyone’s mouth water, but healthful enough
that no one feels guilty about eating a ton.
are recipes for some simple-but-tasty hors d’oeuvres that,
save for the decadent blue cheese-pecan tart that’s worth
every hip-hugging calorie, are relatively guilt free. Why go
for the cheese ball, for instance, when you can make a
creamy cheese dip with winter’s favorite vegetable,
butternut squash? Instead of the standard shrimp cocktail,
how about thin strips of lemongrass-marinated beef wrapped
around crunchy scallions?
best part is all can be assembled beforehand and then
refrigerated, ready to be popped into the oven or finished
off on the stovetop just before your guests arrive.
way, you can have some fun, too.
BEEF AND SCALLION ROLLS
dish is an easy version of the Japanese dish beef negimaki,
Roll them ahead, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge
until you’re ready to grill and serve. You’ll find
lemongrass stalks in Asian markets.
pounds top round steak
lemongrass stalks, trimmed, pounded and minced
garlic clove, minced
tablespoons fish sauce
teaspoons or soy sauce
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
crushed sesame seeds, for serving
meat in freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, then slice as thinly
as possible against the grain.
lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, honey, soy sauce and pepper
in a large bowl and mix well. Add beef and toss to combine.
Let beef marinate for up to 1 hour at room temperature, or
up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
scallions and cut crosswise into halves or thirds, so that
they are a bit longer than the width of the slices of beef.
Bring 1 inch water to a simmer in a medium-size skillet over
medium-high heat. Add scallions and blanch just until their
color deepens, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain.
an outdoor grill, stovetop grill or panini press.
each piece of beef around 1 or 2 pieces of scallion, and
brush the excess marinade on outside of each roll. If
desired, thread rolls onto wooden skewers or toothpicks that
have been soaked in water.
until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side, sprinkle
with sesame seeds and serve hot.
4 to 8.
"Paleo Planet: Primal Foods From the Global
Kitchen" by Becky Winkler (Harvard Common Press,
November 2015, $24.95)
easy appetizer is a savory blend of spicy sausage and mildly
tangy cream cheese. If you can’t find Portuguese sausage,
substitute the more readily available chorizo. You can serve
the spread with crackers, toast points or filo cups — I
spooned it into buttery puff pasty cups. Yum.
pound linguica or chorizo sausage, casing removed
teaspoons olive oil
cup finely chopped onion
ounces cream cheese, softened or whipped
tablespoons finely chopped parsley
or two hot sauce, to taste
sausage into small pieces. Heat oil in skillet and add
pieces of sausage and the onion. Saute until sausage get
some color and the onions are soft and lightly golden, about
4 minutes. Cool completely, then transfer to the bowl of a
about 20 to 30 seconds or until meat and onions are fairly
fine. Transfer to bowl and fold in cream cheese and parsley,
mixing thoroughly. Add hot sauce, blending well. Serve
immediately or cover and chill. Bring out 1/2 hour before
using. Spread on toast points or fresh bread or add rounded
teaspoons to miniature filo cups.
"Authentic Portuguese Cooking" by Ana Patuleia
Ortins (Page Street Publishing, October 2015, $32)
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEDDAR DIP
warm dip for the holidays is totally unexpected but totally
delicious. It features all the tastes of the season, plus
cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?
olive oil, for drizzling and greasing
large butternut squash (about 3 1/2 pounds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), plus more if needed
large onion, thinly sliced
medium cloves garlic, minced
package cream cheese, at room temperature
cup sour cream
ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
or pita chips, to dip
oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Grease a
small baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
seed, and dice the squash into 1-inch cubes. Alternatively,
use the microwave: Poke holes all over the squash with a
fork or make shallow slits in the skin with a knife.
Microwave squash for 3 minutes or until the skin and flesh
have softened slightly. Peel squash and cut into cubes.
squash cubes on the prepared sheet and drizzle with olive
oil. Toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast squash until fork-tender and lightly browned, about 30
melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add sage leaves
and fry in butter until lightly crisped and beginning to
darken slightly. Remove pan from heat and remove sage leaves
using a slotted spoon. Set aside.
pan to heat, add onion, and season with salt and pepper.
Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally,
until onion has caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add more
butter if onion begins to stick to pan. Stir in garlic at
the very end and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
roasted squash, caramelized onion mixture, and about 2/3 of
the crispy sage leaves into the bowl of a food processor.
Process until well combined. Add cream cheese and sour cream
and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if
necessary. Transfer squash mixture to prepared baking dish
and mix in half of the cheddar cheese throughout. Top with
remaining half of cheese. (At this point, the dip can be
covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking and
ready to serve, bake dip at 400 degrees until cheese is
entirely melted and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Top
with remaining crispy sage leaves and serve warm with pita
chips or crackers for dipping.
eggs are an easy, inexpensive hors d’oeuvre for holiday
tables. Take them to next level by adding the flavors of a
Caesar salad. Sounds strange, but it works.
large free-range, organic eggs
tablespoons lemon juice
teaspoons Dijon mustard
cup olive oil
cloves garlic, grated or pasted
tablespoon anchovy paste
tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
to 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or 1/4 cup
Pecorino Romano mixed with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
packed finely chopped romaine lettuce hearts, plus more for
eggs in medium saucepan with water to cover. Bring to rapid
rolling boil. Cover pan, remove from heat and let stand 10
shells and let stand for 10 minutes in very cold water. Peel
eggs. Halve them lengthwise and remove yolks. Set whites and
yolks aside separately.
medium bowl, whisk lemon juice and mustard. Season with
salt. While whisking, stream in oil slowly, pouring it down
the sides of bowl, to emulsify. Stir in garlic, anchovy
paste, Worchestershire, pepper and cheese. Taste and adjust
seasonings — It should taste like a thick Caesar dressing.
egg yolks into dressing. Stir in chopped lettuce. Spoon
mixture into small plastic food storage bag. Snip off one
corner to make a small opening and pipe the filling into the
egg white halves. Garnish with a bit more finely chopped
"Everyone Is Italian On Sunday" by Rachael Ray
(Atria Books, Nov. 2015, $39.99)
MAPLE BLUE CHEESE BOURBON TART
might be the richest, most decadent tart you’ll ever eat.
It’s sweet, salty and savory all in one bite. The
gingersnap crust especially speaks to the season.
whole gingersnap cookies
teaspoon kosher salt
cup oat flour
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
cup granulated sugar
cup sour cream
tablespoons dark maple syrup
tablespoon good bourbon
crumbled good blue cheese, like Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen
cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
cup whole pecans
teaspoon granulated sugar
teaspoon maple sugar
the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Break the
gingersnaps into large pieces with your hands, then grind to
crumbs in a food processor with the pecans, salt, and flour.
Pour the crumbs into a large bowl and stir in the butter.
your hands, press the buttery crumbs into one standard 9- to
9 1/2-inch tart pan or 6 4- to 5-inch mini tart pans.
for 10 to 12 minutes for mini tarts or 12 to 15 minutes for
a large tart, until the crust is matte and toasted. The
crust may puff up slightly when baked; use the bottom of a
dry measuring cup to press it back into shape, especially
around the edges.
completely before filling. The crusts can be made 1 day in
advance of baking; cool and cover with a clean towel or
plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to
filling: Beat the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl
with an electric hand mixer on medium speed for about 2
minutes, until very pale, thick and frothy.
spatula, stir in the sour cream, bourbon, and maple syrup
until blended. Fold in the blue cheese and pecans. Pour the
filling into the prepared tart crust. (If making mini tarts,
reduce the amount of each filling ingredient by half.) Place
on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 to
40 minutes (25 to 30 minutes for mini tarts) until the
filling is uniformly puffed and set, with patches of golden
brown appearing across its surface. Carefully transfer the
tart to a rack and cool completely before garnishing and
serving. The tart will deflate as it cools — Don’t
worry, it’s totally normal.
garnish: Heat the pecans in a small skillet over medium-low
heat for about 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until the nuts
are very warm to the touch and starting to release their
natural oils and aroma. Add the granulated sugar 1/4
teaspoon at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula or
wooden spoon to coat the nuts in the sugar as it melts in
the hot pan.
the 1/2 teaspoon maple sugar into a small heatproof bowl.
Add the nuts and toss to coat until they’re crystallized.
Top the tart with pecans in a design of your choice and eat
1 large or 6 mini tarts.
Casey Barber, Goodfoodstories.com
JALAPENOS (COWBOY CANDY)
popular, and easy, appetizer you see on a lot of holiday
party tables is cream cheese topped with some sort of spicy
jelly. This year, dress the dish up with a lip-tingling jar
of "cowboy candy," or candied jalapeno. It’s
easy to make and very pretty; for added holiday cheer, use a
mix of green and red peppers. Be forewarned: These are
pounds fresh jalapeno peppers, washed
white granulated sugar
teaspoon celery seed
teaspoons granulated garlic
teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
gloves, remove and discard stems from all of the jalapeno
peppers. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds.
large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric,
celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices
and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to
transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning
jars to within 1/4 inch of the top rim of the jar. Turn heat
up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling
boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the
jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of
the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of
air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the
rims of the jars with a clean damp paper towel and fix on
new two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
eating right away, place jars in refrigerator. To can, place
jars in a canner and cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the
water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling
boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15
minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to
transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool,
undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with
a clean, damp washcloth, then label.
serve, spoon candied jalapenos on top of cream cheese and
serve with crackers.
4 (8 ounce) jars.