Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Appetizers

Here are two of the items we made this holiday season. Simple to make and enjoyed by all.

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese

- Dates (preferably already pitted)
- Blue cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- Bacon, slices cut in half

Partially cook the bacon for a few minutes in the microwave; remove and drain on paper towels. Make a slit in the top of the date and push the blue cheese into the pocket. Close the date tightly and wrap with a 1/2 slice of bacon, secure with a toothpick, and place in an iron skillet or other oven-proof pan. Bake at 450º F for about 5-6 minutes, then turn and continue cooking until bacon is done.

(Note: Consider soaking the toothpicks in water prior to using in order to prevent burning.)

Cranberry Baked Brie

- 1 wheel brie cheese
- almonds (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup cranberry sauce/spread
- apples, sliced
- pears, sliced (Comice were available and juicy)
- crackers (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrapping from brie wheel and using a sharp knife, remove the rind from the top of the wheel (except for about 1/4 inch on the edge). Place the brie on an oven baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the cranberry sauce (see below) over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through, about 12-15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate. Garnish, and serve warm with sliced fruit or crackers if you prefer.

(Note: If the Comice pears are not fully ripe, allow them to sit on the counter-top for several days prior to using to ensure that you get that juicy pear for which these are so well known.
The next time I make this I may add sliced almonds atop the brie, then cover with the cranberries.)

Quick Cranberry Spread

3 cups Cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dried Cranberries, diced
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1/8 tsp ground
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly and until most of the berries pop. Remove, cool, cover and refrigerate until ready for use. It makes a nice thick spread and can be made days ahead.

Here is another Cranberry recipe you might enjoy.