How quickly the holidays come upon us. And I am never ready for them. I have to say though that it is probably my favorite time of year for cooking, baking and eating all those cherished holiday foods leaving us heading for the gym in January!
Over the years I have given many recipes for using in-season foods such as pumpkin, cranberries and figs – though we can buy figs all year round, I see them used most during the holidays. We’ve used them for side dishes, desserts, and gifts. This time I’m going to give you my favorite appetizers no matter what the ingredients. There are thousands of recipes and everyone has one or two they make every year. My favorites are a smoked salmon spread for crackers and vegetables slices, a hot crab dip and my mothers’ marinated vegetables. I may have given this one before, but it is a favorite – it’s even used a lot for those football tailgating parties! You can make all of these a day ahead for a few less things to prepare the day of your party or big family gathering.
My Favorite Smoked Salmon Spread
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
2 oz. smoked salmon
A few drops of lemon juice
2-3 Tb. of heavy cream
White pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Put the spread into a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy with crackers, or pipe onto sliced zucchini, sliced cucumbers or halved cherry tomatoes (or all 3!). Makes 1-1/4 cups.
Mom’s Marinated Vegetables
2 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal
12 cauliflower florets
12 mushroom caps
2 green peppers, cut into 3” strips
1 small can of black olives, drained
1 small jar of white onions, drained
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup of red wine vinegar
3 Tb. sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup of dry white wine (or cooking wine)
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil some water in a small saucepan and blanch the carrots and cauliflower to cook slightly. Drain, then place all the vegetables into large bowl.
Put the oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper in a small saucepan on cook low heat for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then add the wine.
Once cooled, pour the marinade over the vegetables, cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Serves 6-8.
Hot Crab Dip
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb. lump crabmeat, shells removed
(You can substitute 2 cans of canned crab)
Paprika or Old Bay Seasoning
Mix together sour cream, lemon juice, onion, Worcestershire, dry mustard, garlic powder, and cream cheese. Fold in cheddar cheese and crabmeat. Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika or Old Bay Seasoning. Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, toast points or sliced vegetables such as zucchini or carrots. Makes 3-1/2 cups.