An easy way to entertain during the holiday season is to throw a wine and appetizer party. You are able to expand from a simple gathering to an extravagant soirée. By picking a couple great bottles of wine and assorted hors d'oeuvres, your guests are guaranteed to have a terrific time. It is about having a strategy, so you do not get stuck in the kitchen or become a short order cook. Carefully plan your menu to include assemble ahead appetizers, easy to prepare and match the mood of the occasion.
Plan to have each guest drink a minimum of two glasses of wine and eat 3 to 4 of each appetizer. Keep the menu simple, and don’t be afraid to complement with store bought items. Choose dishes that compliment your chosen wines and pair well together. Speaking of wine, highlight two to three varietals of wine – for example: Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. Have your guests bring a bottle of their favorite varietals that you are serving and you can have a tasting party.
Recently my husband and I hosted a small wine and appetizer get together with our neighbors to celebrate the holidays. The menu included:
- Zucchini Bisque
- Mini BLT Sandwiches
- Italian Sausage Meatballs with Port-Fig Sauce
- Roasted tomato-pine nut Crostini
- Baked Brie with Dried Cherries and Fresh Thyme
- Classic Crème Brulee
Port-Fig Sauce2 1/4 Cups Port
10 Dried Figs, stemmed and chopped finely
2 Sprigs fresh rosemary
¼ t. Cinnamon
1 T. Honey
2 T. Butter
Salt and pepper
In a medium sauce pan, combine the port, figs, rosemary, cinnamon, and honey. Bring to a boil and stir the honey until dissolved. Reduce heat and gently cook, uncovered, until it reduces to 1 ¼ cup – about 30 minutes. Take the rosemary sprigs out and throw away. Cool the sauce and process in a food processor until
smooth. Return to the pan and add the butter and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Italian Sausage Meatballs2 oz. Pancetta (6 slices)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 C. Buttermilk
1 T. Olive oil
1 ½ C. Panko Bread crumbs
2 slices of white bread, crust removed and torn into tiny pieces
1 t. Rosemary, finely minced
1 Lb. Sweet Italian Sausage Links, casings removed
1 Garlic clove, minced
½ t. Salt
1 t. Pepper
In a large skillet, cook the pancetta until crispy and then crumble. In a measuring cup add the buttermilk and torn white bread and let soak for 10 minutes. In a large bowl add the buttermilk mixture, panko bread crumbs, egg, rosemary, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix slightly. Add the sausage and cooked pancetta and mix well.
Shape the into one inch meatballs, which yields about 40 meatballs. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook half the meatballs first then the second batch. Meatballs cook for about 10 minutes until browned evenly. You can keep the first batch warm in oven at 250 degrees until ready to serve.
Happy Holidays and All The Best in 2010!!!