EASY HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING

The holiday season can be chaotic at best. There is shopping, wrapping, searching for those presents we’ve hidden so well that even we can’t find them, and of course – entertaining. This post offers you a couple of suggestions on how to make quick, easy canapés for your holiday gatherings that will let you shine.

Quick, easy, delicious and oh so pretty to look at!

Quick, easy, delicious!

In order to execute these little gems, you are probably going to want to visit your local Trader Joe’s and Costco to realize the best savings. If you are one of those unfortunates who live in the uncivilized fringes of the World where you don’t have access to those particular havens of bliss, do not despair. You can get these things elsewhere, albeit a bit more expensively but still within reason.

Canapés 1: Pepper Crackers Topped With Brie and Quince Paste

Take Trader Joe’s Black Pepper crackers and top them with brie cheese. I cut the brie about ¼ inch thick and 1 inch square. Pop these into the oven (conventional, toaster, or convection but not microwave) at about 250°. In about 5 minutes the cheese will soften but not run. Pull the warm crackers out and top each bit of brie with about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of quince paste. That’s it! They are beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

If you are dubious about quince paste or just can’t find it, consider using cranberry sauce, cranberry chutney, or some similar tart jelly. It’s the contrast between the creamy, slightly sharp cheese and the tart fruit that makes these so amazing.

Canapés 2: Vegetable Crackers Topped With Salmon, Cucumber, and Cream Cheese

Using Trader Joe’s Vegetable Crackers, carefully smear them with softened cream cheese. Softening the cheese is important because it helps you avoid breaking the crackers. (trust me, I’ve done it both ways. Softening is better!) Season the cream cheese to taste with salt, cracked black pepper, and dill weed. Thinly slice some Persian or similar small cucumbers. You want to use these types and not the larger cucumber you find in the grocer’s case. The large ones are too wet and they make for soggy crackers. Top the cucumber with thinly sliced smoked salmon. Our TJ’s has Copper River which is fabulous. Garnish with a sprig of dill if you wish. Done!

If you're a fan of the Python, it's a giggle. If you're not, it's a clue. Australia! Australia! Right. Beer.

If you’re a fan of the Python, it’s a giggle. If you’re not, it’s a clue. Australia! Australia! Right! Beer!

Canapés 3: There is no Canapé 3. (If you’re a Monty Python fan, you understand this. If you are not, why are you reading this Blog?)

Canapés 4: Jose Nakamura’s Fusion Wraps

We used the ‘cook ‘em yourself’ flour tortillas from Costco but any similarly thin flour tortilla will do. Cut cream cheese (unsoftened this time) into ⅛ inch thick, 1 inch wide strips and put them down the middle of the tortilla. Next, layer on ½ inch thick avocado slices atop the cream cheese. Top with slices of salmon. You’ll want to bunch the salmon up a bit so it has some ‘loft’. Run a thin bead of Kikkoman Eel sauce down the length of the filling. For those of you who cannot abide the idea of eel anything, substitute a bit of Hoisin sauce. Roll the wrap tightly and cut on the diagonal into bite sized pieces.

Without the eel sauce for our more sensitive readers. - image courtesy of foodlustpeoplelove.com

Without the eel sauce for our more sensitive readers. – image courtesy of foodlustpeoplelove.com

We served this with a dipping sauce made of mayonnaise, wasabi horseradish, and more eel sauce (or Hoisin sauce.) Ratio is 2 parts mayonnaise to as much wasabi as you like and about 1 part eel or Hoisin. Stir well and adjust ingredients to taste. A drip of sesame oil would not go amiss here either. (Just thought of including that. Haven’t tried it but sounds good to me. I’m drooling. If you try it, let us know how it worked.)

Anyway, that’s it. Enjoy your holidays, your families, and your friends!

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