Holiday Entertaining 101 – Part 4

Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2009 at 2:45 pm by Engine Communications

The countdown is on!

All right, so over the past few Friday’s I have been talking about planning the perfect party, and I think that we are all ready to graduate to the next step, the best step, and the yummiest…preparing food for the party. This post is strictly about food, and honestly, I can’t think of anything better! 

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for meatballs, other items on my Christmas Party Menu would include:  

Assorted cheeses paired with fruit and crackers.

Assorted cheeses paired with fruit and crackers.

Assorted Cheese Platter with Fresh Fruit, Bread & Crackers 

It doesn’t get much easier than putting an assortment of cheeses together on an old wooden platter or a piece of slate. Tip: make sure you represent cheeses from different parts of the world, such as France, Italy, Greece, and of course, don’t forget your local artisian cheese factories. Make sure that you have representation from each style of cheese. Some examples: hard (parmesan, Romano, Asiago), semi-hard (Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Jarlsberg), semi-soft (American Brick, Havarti, Buffalo Mozzarella) and soft (cream cheese, ricotta, brie, bleu, Roquefort). 

It’s also a good idea to purchase cheeses that are close to their “best before” date, as they are at their peak flavor. 

Pair cheeses with: sliced pear & apple, grapes, figs, chutney (I just love extra old cheddar and red pepper jelly) and lets not forget, a variety of crackers and bread. 

Putting a name to the face is very helpful! If you’re using slate you could write the names of the cheeses and where they are from in chalk. Or you can use the standard cheese spikes. 

Tip:  Take cheeses out of fridge about an hour prior to serving – cheese should be at room temperature to get full flavor. 

Smokey Bacon Bites – I found this Rachael Ray recipe online last Christmas ~ now a regular in my lineup of appis ~  super easy and very tasty! 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Pepper
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough (13×10”), defrosted
  • 1 six ounce container herb & garlic cheese like Boursin
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded. 
Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry

Preheat oven to 400F. Place a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 min. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet to a paper towel-lined plate. 

Remove all but 2 tbsp of the fat from the skillet, return to the heat and add the onion and cook until tender. Remove from heat and combine with the bacon. Season with some pepper and let cool. 

Lay the pastry dough out on a nonstick sheet. Spread the Boursin cheese evenly over the dough then top with the bacon-onion mixture and sprinkle with cheese. 

Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 min. Once the dough is done baking, let cool and cut into 1-2 inch squares. (Makes about 35 pieces.) 


Christmas just isn't the same without cranberries!

Christmas just isn't the same without cranberries!

Cranberry Brie Puffs ~ Christmas without Cranberries, come on…?  

  • Half of a 397 ml pkg of frozen puff pastry
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, for flouring work surface
  • 6 oz brie, rinds removed, cut into 24 equal pieces
  • Fresh rosemary for garnish

 Thaw pastry at room temperature for about 1 hour or until soft enough to roll out. Preheat oven to 400F. Put the cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, covered, over high heat for

2-3 min or until cranberries have popped. Remove lid and stir to mash. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened and liquid has evaporated. Cool. 

Sprinkle work surface with flour and roll out puff pastry into a 12 X 9 rectangle. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 24 equal rectangles. Press pastry into mini-muffin pans (two pans with 12 cups each). Divide cooled cranberry mixture among the muffin cups. Put a piece of Brie in each cup. Bake puffs for 15 – 20 min. or until puffed up and golden brown. Sprinkle chopped rosemary over tops and decorate serving platter with extra sprigs. Serve warm. (Makes 24 pieces.) 

To be continued next Friday… along with a guest post from our friends in New Zealand! 




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