Biscuit bar and shrimp skewers make for a perfect holiday open house
Spreading glad tidings and good cheer is easy with a few festive dishes. This straightforward holiday menu makes entertaining friends and family a breeze. Some Texas décor with seaside accents makes for a perfect holiday open house.
Cranberry Eggnog Cornmeal Scones with Rum Glaze
Yields: 8-10 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup cornmeal
1⁄3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup butter, chilled
3⁄4 cup craisins
2⁄3 cup eggnog
For the rum glaze:
1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl until blended. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form. Mix in the craisins. Use a spatula to stir in the eggnog and make a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; dip hands in flour and knead the dough about 10 times. Pat the dough out into a disk about 1⁄2-inch thick. Dip a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter into some flour, and cut out 8 to 10 rounds. Place rounds about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
Use up remaining dough by patting it into a smaller disk and cutting again.
Bake in preheated oven until risen and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
To make the glaze: Whisk the powdered sugar, rum and vanilla together until they form a thick, glossy glaze. Arrange the scones on a baking sheet or cooling rack and drizzle lightly with the rum glaze. Let sit and cool until the surface of the glaze dries.
Serve homemade biscuits alongside a spiral cut ham, seasonal jams, sorghum and this special blackberry mustard.
Yields: About 1 cup
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 (6-ounce) container fresh blackberries
1⁄4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Bring sugar and blackberries to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir mixture and mash berries with the back of a heat-safe spoon. Reduce heat to medium and simmer. Continue stirring and mashing berries another 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Remove pan from heat and pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer, pressing with spoon to release remaining juices; discard all seeds and solids.
Add blackberry mixture, honey and next 4 ingredients to blender. Process on low then increase speed to high. With blender running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, processing until smooth. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Yields: 1 dozen
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
2⁄3 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using your fingertips, quickly rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Mix just until the dough comes together. Note, the dough will be very sticky.
Lightly flour a large surface and remove dough from bowl. Dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 to 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough — don’t twist the cutter. Place biscuits on baking sheet so they just touch. Re-form scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cava and Gold-Dusted Jell-o Shots
Yields: 1 8-by-8 dish
1 (750-milliliter) bottle of cava, divided
1⁄4 cup sugar
6 envelopes powdered gelatin
1⁄2 cup vodka
Combine 2⁄3 cup cava and sugar in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over mixture. Allow gelatin to bloom, about 3 minutes. Place saucepan over low heat and store until sugar and gelatin dissolve. Remove from heat and stir in remaining cava and vodka.
Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8-by-8-inch baking dish and gently stir in edible gold. Chill pan for 2 to 3 hours or until firm.
Invert Jell-o slab onto a clean cutting board and cut into 1-inch cubes. Serve immediately.
Yields: 3 1⁄2 cups
2 cups sugar, divided
1⁄2 cup water
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
Line a baking sheet with wax paper and place a wire cooling rack on top. Set aside.
Combine 1⁄2 cup sugar and 1⁄2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add cranberries and stir until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the wire rack. Let berries dry for at least 1 hour. They’ll be tacky to the touch.
Pour remaining 11⁄2 cups sugar in a shallow dish. Working in batches, roll cranberries in sugar until well coated. Allow to dry for at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Smoked Paprika Shrimp Skewers with Radish Confetti
Yields: About 24 Skewers
2 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
24 (3-inch) bamboo skewers
2 radishes, trimmed and minced into 1⁄8-inch cubes
Grated zest of 1 lime
Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F.
Place first 6 ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together. Place shrimp in a large mixing bowl and toss together with marinade. Spear 1 to 2 shrimp on each skewer, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place them on a sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 8-10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool. Remove from oven and transfer shrimp to a large serving plate. Top shrimp with radish and lime zest and serve.
Savory Holiday Tree
Yields: 1 tree
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions
1 egg yolk
1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
¼ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Meanwhile, prepare the pesto by placing all the ingredients into a Vitamix or blender. Process until thoroughly combined.
Cut the sheets of puff pastry into the shape of a simple holiday tree. Save trimmings.
Spread a layer of pesto on one sheet of pastry (you will have leftover pesto). Top with the other puff pastry tree. Cut slits on both sides of the tree, spacing them about 1⁄2 an inch apart, leaving the center intact. Twist each strip of pastry twice.
Cut a large star shape out of the leftover pastry and place on top of the tree. With smaller star cutters, cut additional stars and place on the tree. Mix egg yolk with a little water and brush all over the pastry.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and transfer to a serving platter.
Cheese Board Basics
An appetizing cheese board includes a variety of textures and flavors. Choose cheeses from each of the four basic categories: aged, soft, firm or blue, or select cheeses by the type of milk: cow, goat, sheep. Just remember to serve at least one familiar cheese.
Offer a selection of breads and crackers, jarred condiments, olives and fresh berries. Sweet preserves or honey, tart chutneys and spicy mustards are tasty. Add a selection of cured meats such as prosciutto and salami, as well as candied nuts or pistachios to round out the board.
Pro tip: Remove the cheese from the refrigerator an hour before serving (cold mutes flavor). And don’t forget to set out serving tools such as spreaders and knives for each cheese.