Planning a get-together for New Year’s?
Do you scoff at the notion of “easy holiday entertaining”?
Would you rather splurge on festive beverages than on dinner reservations?
Did you manage to score dinner reservations that are so late in the evening you’ll need to eat hours beforehand?
’Tis this the season to save, rather than spend?
If you nodded in an affirmative manner at one or more of these questions, follow our lead. These appetizer-size recipes are quick, easy, fun to look at and inexpensive to make. They are designed to take you from savory to sweet, and we can practically guarantee your guests will be sated.
Each of the five recipes can serve eight, and several of them can be made in advance. Feel free to swap pine nuts for pecan pieces or skip the toasting of bread cubes for the chorizo skewers.
Beer Cheese Balls
These are mini versions of a holiday party classic, made a bit more interesting with the addition of a full-flavored brew and Worcestershire sauce.
▪ Combine 8 ounces of chunked, aged cheddar and 8 ounces of chunked Swiss or Emmental cheese in a food processor; pulse until crumbly. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon powdered mustard and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce; pulse to incorporate.
▪ With the motor running, gradually add 3/4 cup beer to form a fairly smooth puree. Form the mixture into 24 to 26 small balls.
▪ Place 8 ounces of small pecan pieces in a zip-top bag. Add 1 or 2 balls at a time and gently press to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve, with toothpicks.
Sweet and Salty Onion Triangles
This is a crunchy and thrifty riff on James Beard’s famous onion sandwiches.
▪ Cut 1 small sweet onion into very thin half-moons. Soak them in cold water for 5 minutes, then drain; this will reduce their pungency. Trim the crusts off 12 slices of white bread. Toast the trimmed bread lightly, if desired.
▪ Mash together 4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric and 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley.
▪ Spread the parsley butter on each piece of bread. Cut the bread in half on the diagonal, then top with a few pieces of onion. Sprinkle each piece with flaky sea salt.
Saucy Roasted Potatoes
The small, round, yellow-fleshed potatoes sold in mesh bags are perfect for this rendition of Spanish patatas bravas.
▪ Rinse and drain 1 1/2 pounds very small yellow-fleshed round potatoes.
▪ Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch or two of coarse or flaky sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Roast in a 450-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just tender.
▪ Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup of your favorite mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons red pepper sauce.
▪ Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Top with spoonfuls of the mayo-pepper sauce and an optional sprinkling of chopped chives.
Chorizo Turkey Kebabs
You can simplify them further by omitting the toasted bread cubes.
▪ Trim the crusts from six 1-inch-thick slices of brioche or challah, then cut the bread into cubes; you will have scraps left over. Brush the cubes with olive oil and toast at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, until golden brown.
▪ Meanwhile, use cooking oil spray to grease your clean hands, then use them to combine 4 ounces ground turkey, 3 tablespoons apricot or cherry or peach preserves, 1/2 cup panko, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves and a pinch or two each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl.
▪ Flatten a third of the turkey mixture into a rectangle about 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch longer than three thin, 6-inch-long cured/cooked chorizo sausage links. Wrap the turkey mixture around the chorizo, covering the links completely and rolling like logs.
▪ Use cooking oil spray to grease the logs, then cook them in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, browning on all sides. Let cool for 3 minutes, then trim off the rounded ends. Cut each log into 8 slices.
▪ Thread the rounds onto toothpicks with bread cubes, arranging them on a platter. Dollop green pesto for dipping.
These can be assembled and refrigerated, without the drizzle, a day in advance.
▪ Use a small serrated knife to make a horizontal split two-thirds of the way around 16 dried apricots.
▪ Fill each one with a teaspoon or two of mascarpone (from an 8-ounce container) so that the cheese is showing at the edge, arranging them on a platter as you work. Press the cheese sides into a bowl of 1/3 cup shelled, chopped, unsalted pistachios, coating the mascarpone. Drizzle with honey (a total of 1/3 cup) and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.