I think you should stop whatever it is you're doing right now and call up some friends. We're in the middle of Hanukkah, it's almost Christmas, and the Winter solstice is Saturday night. There's no better time to host a holiday happy hour! Invite your loved ones over for some savory bites by the tree.
I've got the perfect party menu for you — it covers the meat, cheese, veggie, and seafood basics. Serve classic spinach-and-feta-filled spanakopita, soy-glazed chicken yakitori, spicy cheese fondue with bacon for dipping, and crab salad canapes. For these delectable recipes, keep reading.
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lb baby spinach
1/2 lb feta, crumbled (scant 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
10 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook spinach, stirring, until wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, about 10 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop. Transfer to a bowl and stir in feta, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Melt remaining 1 stick butter in a small saucepan, then cool.
- Cover phyllo stack with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and then a dampened kitchen towel.
- Take 1 phyllo sheet from stack and arrange on a work surface with a long side nearest you (keeping remaining sheets covered) and brush with some butter. Top with another phyllo sheet and brush with more butter. Cut buttered phyllo stack crosswise into 6 (roughly 12- by 2 3/4-inch) strips.
- Put a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of a strip on end nearest you, then fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip (like a flag), maintaining triangle shape. Put triangle, seam side down, on a large baking sheet and brush top with butter. Make more triangles in same manner, using all of phyllo.
- Bake triangles in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
Make ahead: Pastry triangles can be formed, but not baked, 3 days ahead. Arrange in 1 layer in heavy-duty sealed plastic bags, then freeze. Bake frozen pastries (do not thaw) in same manner as above.
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths
6 shiitake mushroom caps, quartered
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)*
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Vegetable oil, for brushing
- Thread each of 8 metal skewers with 3 pieces of chicken and 3 pieces each of scallion and shiitake.
- In a saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, kecap manis, sugar, ginger, Sriracha and garlic; bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring, until slightly thickened, 8 minutes.
- Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the skewers with oil and grill over high heat, turning, until nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Brush the skewers with the sauce and grill, turning, until the chicken is cooked through and nicely glazed, about 3 minutes longer. Serve at once.
*If you can not find kecap manis, simply use 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce mixed with a little brown sugar instead.
3/4 pound grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
Thick-cut bacon, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces, for dipping
Small new potatoes, boiled and halved, for dipping
Gala apples, cored and sliced, for dipping
Pretzel rods, for dipping
- In a bowl, toss together the parmesan cheese and cornstarch.
- In a medium saucepan, cook the milk, chicken broth and chiles over medium heat until warm. Add the cream cheese and cook, whisking, until smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Bring to a simmer and add the parmesan mixture, a large handful at a time, stirring until smooth. Cook the sauce over low heat for about 5 minutes.
- Serve the fondue warm with the bacon, potatoes, apples and pretzel rods for dipping.
1 orange bell pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 baguette or ficelle, cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
1/4 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked clean
1/2 celery stalk, strings removed, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/2 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-long matchsticks
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves, for garnish
- Heat a grill to hot, or turn on the broiler. Cook bell pepper until it is completely charred, turning so all sides cook evenly, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer warm pepper to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until cool.
- Using your hands, rub off charred skin. Slice pepper in half, and remove seeds and stem. Cut pepper into diamond shapes that are slightly larger than a piece of baguette.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix together butter and two mustards in a small bowl until well combined. Spread a generous dollop of mustard butter on each slice of bread.
- Place remaining ingredients except marjoram in a medium bowl, and toss to combine.
- Place a pepper diamond on each piece of bread, and top with a mound of crab salad. Garnish each canapé with several marjoram leaves, and serve.