Christmas Day Appetizers

Cranberry, Brie and Prosciutto Crostini with Balsamic Glaze, recipe provided below (adapted from The Brunette Baker)

Ingredients:

  • 1 French baguette
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 package quality Prosciutto
  • 1 round of Brie cheese
  • 1 jar McEwan's Cranberry Sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1 bottle McEwan's Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions:

  • To make balsamic glaze: Place one cup of McEwan's Balsamic Vinegar along with brown sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until vinegar is thickened or the back of a spoon is coated. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Sauce will thicken as it cools. 
  • To assemble crostini:Cut baguette into one-third inch slices, on a bias. Lightly coat with olive oil and bake for eight minutes at 375 degrees F until lightly toasted. Slice brie into thin strips and place on bread. Top with prosciutto and a generous teaspoon of McEwan's Cranberry sauce. Sprinkle chopped walnuts, if using, and drizzle balsamic glaze over assembled crostini. Embellish with mint leaves or arugula.
  • Serve immediately. 

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus, recipe provided below (adapted from Eat Drink Paleo)

Ingredients:

  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 6 prosciutto slices/strips
  • A little ghee for frying

Directions:

  • Wash asparagus and cut 2 cm off the ends. Cut prosciutto strips into two halves, going lengthways, you should end up with 12 strips.
  • Place each prosciutto strip on a chopping board at a 45 degree angle. Place one of the asparagus spears on top of the meat, perpendicular to it. The tip of the asparagus should be lined up with the bottom of the prosciutto strip. Wrap the bottom end of prosciutto over the asparagus and holding the meat tight, start rolling the asparagus up. The prosciutto strip will wrap around the whole length of the spear because it’s on an angle. You can try a different wrapping method but I find this is a very quick to do it. Don’t worry if parts of the asparagus spears are not covered completely.
  • Heat some ghee in a large, flat frying pan to sizzling hot. Fry wrapped asparagus spears for 1-2 minutes on each side or until prosciutto is brown and crispy.

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Christmas Tree Bread, recipe provided below (adapted from Electric Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated artisan pizza crust with whole grain or Pillsbury® refrigerated regular pizza crust
  • 4 oz, or half brick, cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced very fine
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil and rosemary
  • 1 cup warmed marinara sauce for dipping

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400°. Lay pizza dough on a work surface and stretch to a 10 x 15 inch size. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 36 equal squares. In a small bow, combine cream cheese and shredded cheese. Mix well. 
  • Add one tablespoon of the cheese mixture to each dough square. Make a ball with the dough, sealing the edges. Place on a cookie sheet in a Christmas tree form as shown in the photos above. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  • After removing pull-apart from the oven, brush with butter and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve pull apart with marinara sauce.

Steak Sandwiches with Shallot-Thyme Aioli, recipe provided below (adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • 4 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 lb. (625 g.) top round or flank steak, 1 inch (2.5 cm.) thick
  • 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) mayonnaise
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • 8-12 slices coarse country white bread
  • 1 bunch watercress

Directions:

  • In a spice mill or mortar with pestle, coarsely grind the peppercorns. Mix with the 4 teaspoons thyme and 2 teaspoons salt. Pat the steak dry. Press the spice mixture onto both sides of the meat, and let marinate while preparing the aioli.
  • In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, shallot, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, and freshly ground pepper; mix to combine. Set the aioli aside.
  • In a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat, brush with olive oil. Add the steak and cook as desired, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate and let rest 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Brush one side of each bread slice with a little of the aioli. Arrange, aioli side up, on a baking sheet and broil until brown, watching carefully, about 2 minutes. Place 2-3 bread slices on each of 4 warmed plates. Spread each with aioli, and then top with watercress.
  • Thinly slice the steak on an angle against the grain. Arrange the meat on top of the watercress and serve right away. Serves 4.

Smoked Mozzarella Dip, recipe provided below (adapted from Love Grows Wild)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 loaf Italian bread, cut into ¼" slices
  • Optional garnish:
    • 1 Roma tomato, diced,
    • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450ºF. In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients (all the cheese and seasonings). Spray a 1.5 quart baking dish or pie pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour the cheese mixture into the dish. Bake 15 minutes until all the cheese is melted, bubbling, and slightly browned on top.
  • Meanwhile, put the sliced Italian bread in a single layer on baking sheets and toast them in the oven during the last 5 minutes of baking.
  • Garnish the dip with diced tomato and parsley, if desired, and serve immediately with the toasted bread for dipping.