I hold a Christmas tree decorating party every year: I invite colleagues and friends and clients. I supply the food; I ask that they bring whatever they would like to drink and an ornament for the tree. It’s a buffet style meal. I thought I’d share some of my recipes!
For appetizers, I take a sheet of puff pastry and score it into squares, put a dollop of fig jam on top, then a slice of proscuitto, sliced shallots, and a layer of smoked or plain gouda. Top with a sprig of thyme and bake as per the puff pastry instructions. Delicious! (Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe, photo credit Style at Home.)
I also make a red onion marmalade to top Brie or Camembert on sliced baguette. For the marmalade, slice red onion finely and saute with garlic in olive oil until carmelized. Add Balsamic vinegar, maple syrup or honey, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and lime juice, and cook down until it thickens. Put a teaspoon or so on a slice of cheese on baguette slices and broil until bubbling. This is similar to a recipe for onion jam from Diverse Dinners (see their pic below) except I broil the topped baguette slices.
For entrees, salmon is always a favourite. I marinate mine overnight in a mixture of gin, molasses, garlic cloves, brown sugar, soya sauce, and lots of salt. The gin is the secret – it adds that tang of juniper berries that works so well with salmon. I bake it in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes. Do *not* let the edges turn white – better to undercook than overcook it! (Photo credit: Well Plated by Erin).
Meatballs are easy and delicious too. last year, one of my guests said they were the best ones he’d ever had. I make mine out of ground beef and pork mixed with bread soaked in milk and bake them in the oven until just cooked. For a sauce, I use cream of mushroom soup thinned with milk and add soya sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste and then add the meatballs and simmer on low until it’s time to serve. This is another big favourite! (Photo credit: Campbells Soup: Swedish Meatballs)
The easiest dish to make is also the one I get asked for the recipe the most. I mix cooked shrimp with sliced red onion and slices of avocado, dressed with lime juice. That’s it! Colourful, bright and healthy, and it only takes seconds.
For a vegetable side dish, one of my new favourites is a recipe I tried this weekend. Slice Brussels sprouts thinly, then sautee in butter. Add maple syrup and lemon juice cook until they caramelize, then top with fried proscuitto. I’m sure bacon or pancetta would work too! I couldn’t get enough of this one — it’s terrific. Re-heats well too.
Another dish I’ve made is one that is based on a salad I had in Picton. I have had to figure out the ingredients from that tasting but I think it’s pretty close. It’s a very pretty salad, because it’s made of orzo and beets, and the beets stain the orzo red.
So: cook beets and peel; cook orzo. Meanwhile, sautee red onions with carrots sliced very thin. When everything is done, mix it together; toss in a handful of sliced black olives and a lot of parmesan cheese (about 1/2 c for every 2 cups of orso/beets) drizzle with red wine vinegar. You can serve this cold, warm or hot: it’s lovely!
I’ll share some of my dessert items with you later this week!