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3 Easy & Delicious Holiday Appetizer Recipes

3 Easy & Delicious Holiday Appetizer Recipes

Words Heather Ramsdell

Holiday parties may be a family-only affair this year, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on the appetizers. Try these easy, yet modern twists on Cheese Straws, Stuffed Mushrooms and Deviled Eggs.

I always loved it when my parents threw a holiday party. I was old enough to come downstairs and load my plate up with appetizers—rich, rare treats—and then hide in my room with the other minors watching fun TV. I’m happy to report that many of the party snacks from my childhood have held up.

Treats like deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, and crispy cheese straws striped with baked-in cheese (recipes below) are synonymous with celebrating, especially around the holidays, and they don’t require days to put together. They are good not because ironic, but because they are flavorful, handsome, easy, and infinitely adaptable.

For example, you can now cook the eggs in an electric multi-cooker then add salmon roe and shiso leaves, or chipotle and avocado. You can top stuffed mushrooms with a triple crème cheese or a gluten-free and paleo cauliflower puree (see recipe below).

You can fill the pastry straws with the favorite ingredient du jour, like a zingy ‘nduja sausage, a sprinkle of everything-bagel spice, or spicy gojuchang and scallions, or pumpkin pie spice and sugar. The most important thing is to have fun! When you are entertaining, your food should be entertaining, too.

Black Tie Parmesan Straws

Makes 20 servings, Recipe Courtesy of Heather Ramsdell: A tall glass filled with these light, crisp little olive straws are a nice detail at a cocktail gathering. You can fill cheese straws with so many flavors, but for the season, these have a swanky black stripe of pungent olive paste snazzed up with orange zest and red pepper flakes. Yum.

Ingredients

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (preferably all-butter, about 16 ounces)

2/3 cup pitted oil cured olives

Zest of 2 oranges

1 clove garlic

Pinch red pepper flakes

All-purpose flour for dusting

Freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Defrost the puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 30 minutes until pliable.
  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 sheet trays with nonstick mats.
  3. Put the oil-cured olives, orange zest, garlic, and red pepper flakes into the bowl of a food processor and process, scraping down the sides as needed, and loosening the consistency of the mixture with one teaspoon of water at a time until you have a spreadable paste.
  4. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and a sprinkling of the cheese. With a rolling pin, roll out the pastry dough sheet to 10 x 16 inches. (The texture of the puff pastry should be pliable, but not soft or sticky. Refrigerate for a bit if it gets too soft.) Brush one half of the olive mixture evenly all over the pastry dough sheet with a pastry brush, being careful not to tear it.
  5. Sprinkle the dough with half of the cheese and season with black pepper. Press gently with your hands to stick the ingredients to the dough. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, so it is 10 inches x 8 inches. Roll to flatten and sprinkle lightly with a few tablespoons more cheese. Trim edges and discard scraps. Refrigerate while you repeat with the other sheet of dough, olive paste and parmesan.
  6. Using a sharp knife, pizza wheel or pastry cutter, Cut 20 8-inch-long by half-inch-wide strips from the first sheet. Twist each strip to make a spiral. Lay one inch apart in two columns on a baking mat. Press the ends to the mat so they don’t unravel. Chill to set for at least 20 minutes (or freeze and bake later). Repeat with other sheet of dough. Bake the straws until cooked through and golden brown, about 20 minutes, flipping the straws and rotating the baking sheets halfway through cooking so that they brown and puff evenly. Serve.

Tips for Making Parmesan Cheese Straws

Zesting orange into the bowl of a the manual processor.

Brush one half of the olive mixture evenly all over the pastry dough sheet, being careful not to tear it. We use a pastry mat to keep things clean.

Sprinkle the dough with half of the cheese and season with black pepper.

Fold the dough in half lengthwise, so it is 10 inches x 8 inches. Roll to flatten and sprinkle lightly with a few tablespoons more cheese. Trim edges and discard scraps.

Cut 20 8-inch-long by half-inch-wide strips from the first sheet using a pizza cutter.

Twist each strip to make a spiral. Lay one inch apart in two columns on a baking mat. Press the ends to the mat so they don’t unravel.

Bake the straws until cooked through and golden brown, about 20 minutes, flipping the straws and rotating the baking sheets halfway through cooking so that they brown and puff evenly.

Serve in a tall glass along with other appetizers.

Mushroom Stuffed Mushrooms

Yields 12 Servings, Recipe Courtesy of Heather Ramsdell: It almost seems like the hollow of a mushroom cap was designed to be filled with something savory and rich, like bacon and even more mushrooms. The cheese that droops off of these mushrooms and turns into a delicious lacey skirt of cheese is one of the best parts.

Ingredients

24 white mushrooms (20 ounces)

5 shiitake mushrooms (2 ounces)

3 strips thick-cut bacon, diced (4 ounces)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped, plus 24 tiny leaves for garnish

1/2 cup breadcrumbs such as panko, pumpernickel or sourdough

1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Gruyere cheese, (2 ounces)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with a baking mat.
  2. Brush the dirt off the white and shitake mushrooms with a mushroom brush. Remove and save the shitake stems for another use, such as stock. Remove the white mushroom stems and use a spoon to clear any stems from the hollows. Dice white mushroom stems and shiitake caps.
  3. Put the bacon into a medium skillet and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring often, until the bacon renders and starts to crisp, about 5 minutes. Pour off almost all of the bacon fat and reserve it for another use. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the onions, and cook, stirring until translucent, about 5 more minutes. Add the diced mushrooms and garlic, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until the edges of the mushrooms start to brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in breadcrumbs, thyme and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning: it should be very flavorful. Set aside.
  4. Put remaining olive oil in a big bowl, add mushroom caps and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange caps hollow-side-up on the nonstick baking mat. Mound the caps with the mushroom-bacon mixture, and top with cheese. Roast on a center rack until the mushrooms are cooked through and soft when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter, garnish each mushroom with a parsley leaf, and serve.
steaming eggs

Classic Deviled Eggs

Who doesn’t love deviled eggs? This recipe calls for the classic mustard, mayo and vinegary hot sauce combo, but you can mix it up however you like. Try bacon bits, curry, scallions, or whatever your heart (and taste buds) desire. Ready to get deviling? Check out the link below for the recipe, plus our 10 best tips for making your best deviled eggs every time.

Deviled Eggs Recipe & Tips

Plus, get our best tips for holiday baking with kids, DIY holiday food gifts, and more holiday appetizers, featuring puff pastry as a secret weapon.

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By Heather Ramsdell

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