Please Pass the Hors d’Oeurves.
I am so in the holiday spirit. As I plan ahead to parties I am going to over the next few weeks and what I want to bring, food does tend to be top of mind. I know it’s the frantic holiday season. I know you have too much to do. I know you’re already eating too much. But I want to make it easy.
I have two good new party foods for you. Both are fast and easy. Both are finger foods. Both are yummy. Both are forgiving if you doing something “wrong.”
The first is a seasonal Pear and Cheese Flatbread. By themselves, I’ve always found pears to be pretty boring, but if you cook them and/or pair them (or pear them) with cheese, something interesting happens. This is one of those interesting things.
The second is a Siracha Mary. It’s actually a cross between a Siracha Bloody Mary (vodka and all) and a 21st Century shrimp cocktail. Low fat. No sugar. Really tasty! Ready? Here we go.
Pear Cambozola Flatbread
First the Flatbread, itself.
The crust is of the relatively easy variety and you can make it a day or two ahead if you cool it completely and keep it in an airtight container at room temperature.
What it Takes To Make Flatbread
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
[there was actually some thyme still living on the plants outside my kitchen in the middle of December!]
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt
How to Make Flatbread
Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in the middle of the oven. Stir together flour, chopped thyme, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and slowly stir the water and oil into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon. A dough will form. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times. Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a roundish or oval shape. The dough should be thin and it can totally be imperfect and rustic.
Lightly brush the top of the dough with additional oil and scatter more thyme on top, pressing in the edges slightly. Sprinkle the whole crust with sea salt. Slide the parchment onto the bottom side of a preheated baking sheet, poke holes into it with a fork (to keep the flatbread flat) and bake 5 minutes. It should be pale golden and slightly browned in spots.
Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then repeat the process two more times until you have three crusts. Then make 2 more crusts (1 at a time) on fresh parchment.
Alternately, if you are just running out of time and/or energy, pick up a couple of refrigerated pizza dough containers. Mix the dough with some fresh thyme and roll it out very thin. Sprinkle it with sea salt and place it on the upended bottom of a preheated dark baking sheet. Proceed to perforate it with a fork and bake five minutes. It won’t be a cracker-crackly, but it will be fine and no one but you has to know you used a ready-made crust. I’m certainly not going to tell.
What It Takes to Make Pear Flatbread Topping
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 ripe but firm Bosc or d’anjou pears cut into 1/4-inch thick slices and divided into 4 equal portions
8 ounces cambozola cheese
[alternately you can use Gorgonzola, Brie or goat cheese]
1 red onion, sliced and then the slices cut into quarters
3 cups baby arugula
How You Make Pear Flatbread Topping
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Sauté the red onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil. Meanwhile, slice the pear about ¼-inch thick. Don’t bother to peel it.
Put the slices of pear and the sautéed red onion on the prepared flatbread crust. Sprinke pieces of the cheese (your choice) all around the crust.
Put the crust in the center of the preheated oven for five minutes. Remove. Let the flatbread cool slightly. Top with baby arugula, sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Cut into serving pieces and place on a pretty serving tray.
Siracha Mary Shrimp
What It Takes to Make Siracha Mary Shrimp
1 pound medium shrimp in shell, peeled and deveined
2 T salt
3-4 celery ribs, chopped small
6 finely chopped scallions
½ C chili sauce
¼ C vodka
¼ C fresh lemon juice
1 T bottled horseradish
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t Siracha sauce
What It Takes to Make Siracha Mary Shrimp
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil with the salt. Add shrimp, then remove from heat and let stand in water until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool a bit. Cut shrimp into thirds and mix with celery and scallions.
Whisk together chili sauce, vodka, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and Siracha sauce. Stir sauce into shrimp mixture.
To serve, you can either spoon a couple of shrimp pieces with vegetables and sauce into the bowl of each Chinese soupspoon and arrange the spoons on a platter – or you can serve the shrimp in a bowl surrounded by crostini, endive leaves and/or cucumber slices for your guests. Either way garnish with diced avocado.
Ok, Fellow FoodBeest, what little noshes are you enjoying with holiday season? What do you think of these? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the Comment section below.