You may have noticed it’s been awhile since my last post, for reasons that are probably obvious–it’s Christmastime! Like everyone else, I have a to-do list longer than Santa’s naughty list every year during December, so writing about food has been pushed from its usual place near the top. Not, of course, for lack of cooking and eating! In fact, so much of my time has been taken up with both these activities the last few weeks that it’s sort of ironic that it’s kept me from blogging. Part of the reason for this, in addition to the usual cookie baking, eggnog drinking, and yuletide haggis feast (your family does that too, right?) is that my husband and I host an annual White Elephant Christmas Party for about 30 of our friends. This may be my favorite tradition of the whole season. We started it when we were newly married, just for fun, and I think about eight people came. Now, nine years later, it’s the biggest event of my year. I start menu planning around Halloween, and prepping and freezing after Thanksgiving. (Someday I’ll write a post about party planning tips/ideas. For now, suffice it to say the top two are Plan Ahead and The Freezer Is Your Friend.) I always provide 8-9 finger food options, as well as a selection of Christmas cookies and one other, more fabulous dessert. Here was this year’s menu:
Crock Pot Barbecue Meatballs
Cherry-Apple-Walnut Chicken Salad Croissants
Mac and Cheese Bites
Puff Pastry Ham Braids with Honey Mustard
Crudites with White Bean Dip, Tomato Basil Hummus, and Parmesan Ranch
Tortilla Chips with Avocado-Feta Pico de Gallo
Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
While I was happy with the way everything came out, I may have been proudest of the Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta. Bursting with flavor from the combination of sweet fig-orange jam with creamy, tangy goat cheese, they definitely make a big impact for such a small appetizer. And look how pretty they are! If these were a fashion accessory, they’d be diamond earrings–small but sparkly. Plus, they’re not too difficult to prep in advance. Make the jam up to three days ahead, then assemble and stick under the broiler for a couple of minutes, and voila! A lovely tiny bite of deliciousness is yours!
As for the rest of the party, my hope is that everyone had a blast. There were certainly some terrible gifts (the more terrible, the better is the idea) and all I can say is I’m glad I didn’t end up with the live goldfish.
And as for you, have a very merry Christmas filled with peace, beauty, and of course lots of wonderful food!
Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
(Adapted from Cooking Light)
1 1/4 c. chopped dried Mission figs
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. coarsely chopped orange sections
1 tsp. grated orange rind
1/3 c. fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
30 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread baguette
1 1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
5 tsp. finely chopped walnuts
In a small saucepan, combine the first 7 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until figs are tender. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
To assemble bruschetta, top each bread slice with 1 1/2 tsp. fig jam and 1 1/2 tsp. goat cheese. Sprinkle evenly with walnuts. Broil on a cookie sheet for 2 minutes or until nuts begin to brown.
Makes 30 pieces.