Holiday entertaining is all about lots of food, drink and celebration. It’s a time to gather family friends and even coworkers. Parties don’t have to be formal-they can be fun, simple and completely casual. Because most people have a variety of parties to attend, cocktail and appetizer parties are a great way to entertain for the guests that are in and out. A number of small bites, dips, spreads, savory tarts and a few drinks are all you need. Consider a holiday themed cocktail (I had this one and it is fabulous) or have guests bring their favorite bottle of wine and you’re all set with the drinks part.
Whether you’re the kind of person who has the holiday party that everyone wants to attend or are a first-time host or hostess, we have a variety of recipes to suit all your needs. You’ll find recipes with our Bellisari’s spreads and sauces that can please even the pickiest of palettes(I have two of those at home) as well as elegant hors d’oeuvres. These are also the standby’s I go to year after year! The best part is all these recipes can easily be eaten with your hands, either picked up with your fingers or with the help of a skewer. Most of the recipes can be prepared ahead of your party or small gathering, making it that much easier to entertain. This way you can spend more time with your guests instead of in the kitchen!
Fig & Pesto Torte
1 cup finely ground wheat crackers such as Wheat Thins
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled, and ground fine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mascarpone or sour cream
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups homemade basil pesto (recipe follows) or prepared basil pesto
2 pounds firm-ripe fresh figs (about 16 large), 1 pound cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices-if out of season use dried.
1 1/2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
Accompaniment: baguettes cut diagonally into thin slices and toasted lightly
To Make crust
Preheat oven to 325° F. and butter a 10-inch springform pan. In a bowl with a fork stir together crust ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Press mixture into bottom of pan and bake in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
To Make filling
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together filling ingredients and salt and pepper to taste until very smooth. Assemble torte Pour half of filling into crust. Drop dollops of pesto over filling and spread carefully to form an even topping. (Some filling may show through.) Top pesto layer with half of fig slices, overlapping them slightly, and pour remaining filling over figs, spreading evenly. Bake torte in middle of oven 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until top is golden brown and set. Cool torte in pan on a rack (filling will deflate slightly). Chill torte, covered loosely, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
In a small saucepan stir together Bellisari's Blistered jalapeno Fig Spread and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and cool mixture. Stir in salt to taste. Slice remaining figs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side. Spread torte with preserves mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch border, and top decoratively with remaining fig slices. With 2 large metal spatulas transfer torte to a serving plate.
Serve torte at room temperature to spread on toasts.
Adapted from Epicurious.
Grilled Pork Belly Skewers
1lb of skinless pork belly
1 Clove of Grated Garlic
1 Tbsp of grated ginger
1 Tbsp of apple juice
1 1/2 Tbsp of soy sauce
1/2 Jar Bellisari's Saigon Street Sauce
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp of toasted sesame oil
½ cup prepared tomatillo sauce
½ cup prepared crème fresh
To make the grilled pork belly: Slice the pork belly into 2″ wide, and 1/2″ thick pieces. Marinate with grated garlic, grated ginger, apple juice, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and black pepper for at least 2 hours.
Right before serving, preheat the top-broiler on high. Divide/make the pork belly into 8 bite size portions and place on a baking-rack, sitting over a parchment-lined baking-sheet. Bake until nicely browned/charred on the first side. This will only take a few min. Before serving, brush with Bellisari's Saigon Street Sauce and Sprinkle with Sea Salt. Place each belly onto of a tablespoon of tomatillo sauce and drizzle with crème fresh either on each piece or on the platter.
Chicken Bacon Bites
1 1/4 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts cut in 1" Cubes
1 lb. Bacon
1 Jar Marinated artichoke hearts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut bacon slices and artichokes into halves. Wrap each chicken cube and artichoke with bacon and secure with a wooden pick. Brush with Bellisari’s Barista Sauce. Coat pan with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Serve with more sauce.
Blue Cheese, Honey & Shallot Spread Endive Appetizer
12 Endive spears
1 Small bag of walnuts
1 Small sandwich bag
Wash endive spears thoroughly. Place 3 Tbsp of Bellisari's Blue Cheese, Honey & Shallot Spread into the sandwich bag. Cut a small slit in the corner of the bag. Gently squeeze the spread into the endive spears.
Top with chopped walnuts and serve.