Juice of 1 small orange, plus ¼ tsp. finely grated orange zest
3/4 tsp. honey
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Flaky sea salt (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the top of each lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the bread is crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside. (Bread can be toasted up to 3 hours ahead.)
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the ricotta, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the orange zest, and ¼ tsp. kosher salt. Process until smooth (mixture should still be thick), adding more olive oil by the tablespoon if the ricotta is very thick.
3. In a medium bowl, add the cranberries, orange juice, honey, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir well to combine.
4. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread a generous layer of the ricotta mixture onto the toasts. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the cranberry mixture. Garnish with thyme and flaky sea salt to taste.
Elegant Party Appetizers #2 – Pigs in a Blanket with Herb Mustard Dipping Sauce – 24 people; 3 hours to make.
Ingredients: Mini Pork Sausages
1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/3 lb. pork belly, skin removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tsp. fine sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup cooked sushi rice or Chinese rice
Heaping 1/4 cup crushed ice
1/2 tsp. garlic flakes
1 tbsp. olive oil (optional, for browning)
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine sea salt
5 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
5 tbsp. chilled vegetable shortening
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 tbsp. half & half or heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1. To make the mini pork sausages: In a medium bowl, place the pork; season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Place your meat grinder in the fridge to chill too.
2 Remove and combine the meat with the rice and ice. Pass the mixture through the grinder’s finest setting, adding the rice and ice as you go. Then grind the mixture a second time, working quickly to keep the mixture as cold as possible.
3. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and cut a 3/4-inch opening at the tip. Lay an 18-inch piece of plastic wrap on the work surface, and starting at one end, pipe a tube of sausage mixture in a straight line along the edge. Roll up the plastic tightly to create a long sausage shape. Using butcher’s twine, tie off one end. Then pinch and twist the sausage every 2 inches and tie with more twine to form small links. Repeat with an additional piece of plastic wrap and the remaining filling. Chill until ready to cook, up to 1 day.
4. Heat a large pot of water until warm but not simmering (about 145°). Add the wrapped sausages and poach until a meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of 145°, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl filled with ice water. Unwrap the sausages and pat dry.
5. Make the dough: IN a large bowl, sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and shortening, and using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the fat until only pea-size crumbs remain. Add the buttermilk and mix with a fork, just until a shaggy dough forms.
6. Turn out the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Gently form into a 7×9-inch rectangle with even thickness. Wrap in plastic, then chill overnight.
7. Remove the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll it out to 1/2-inch thickness, maintaining the rectangular shape. Fold the rectangle into thirds like you would a business letter. Flour your work surface again; turn the folded dough over so the seam is on the counter and the short end is facing you. Roll it out again to a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Fold and repeat 2 more times (if dough is too elastic to roll out, refrigerate 30 minutes after each time you fold). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
8. Assemble the pigs: Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack in the center of the oven. 9 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, beat the half & half and egg yolk together until combined.
9. Unwrap the dough and cut into 2 equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the first half into a 9×13-inch rectangle, slightly thinner than 1/8 inch (keep the remaining dough refrigerated). Cut the dough into 4 strips approximately 2 1/4 inches wide. Working with 1 strip at a time, brush about 2 inches of one end lightly with the egg mixture. Smear a mini pork sausage with 1/4 teaspoon mustard and place it at the prepared edge. Roll tightly until the sausage is wrapped completely with dough and there is a little overhang from the seam. Cut the wrapped sausage off the strip, roll the seam to the bottom so it is against the counter, and press down gently to seal. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and sausages (you should be able to wrap 3 sausages with each strip of dough), wrapping and chilling the pigs in a blanket until you are ready to bake. Reserve any remaining egg wash.
10. Brush the pigs in a blanket with the egg wash and transfer to the oven. Bake until the dough has puffed and browned, about 22 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Elegant Party Appetizers #3 – Onion Tart with Goat Cheese – For 12 People
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
12 large spanish onions, thinly sliced
6 tbsp. thyme leaves
2 tbsp. kosher salt
2 (9″x11″ sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed and chilled
4 tbsp. grated parmesan
3 tbsp. capers
24 anchovy filets
4 oz. goat cheese
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1. Heat butter in a wide-bottomed pot over high heat. Add onions, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 25 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 40 minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat oven to 350?. Fit pastry sheets into a parchment paper–lined 13″ x 17 3?4” rimmed baking pan, pressing them against sides. Trim inside edges of pastry sheets so that they just meet in center. Prick bottom of pastry with a fork. Spread parchment paper over pastry; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Remove paper and beans or pie weights. Bake until bottom is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
3. Spread onions over crust. Sprinkle with parmesan and capers; arrange anchovies over top. Dot with goat cheese. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Garnish with parsley and zest.
Elegant Party Appetizers #4 – Whole Wheat Olive Oil Crackers – Makes 60
1 cup coarsely ground whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, or in a large bowl, combine the flours, ½ cup water, the olive oil, and kosher salt. Mix on medium speed or by hand until just combined, adding ½ to 1 teaspoon more water as needed to bring the dough together (dough should feel stiff and relatively dry). Beat on medium speed or knead by hand until mostly smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. (If dough is sticky, add in more flour by the teaspoonful.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. (Dough can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days)
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Using a floured rolling pin and working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out the pieces as thin as possible without tearing. Using a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or cookie or biscuit cutters, cut the dough into 3-by-1-inch rectangles, 2-inch squares, or another shape you like. Transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets and brush each cracker generously on both sides with oil. Sprinkle the top side generously with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
3. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until crackers are golden brown and lightly blistered, 10-12 minutes. Remove the crackers and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or paper bag (but not a plastic bag) for up to 1 week. If crackers lose their crispiness after storing, transfer to a baking sheet and reheat in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes.
Elegant Party Appetizers #5 – Ham-and-Cheese Croquettes – 20 Croquettes; 1h30m Total
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, the cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to make a dry, stiff mixture, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk to make a smooth paste. Stir until the batter forms a ball, about 3 more minutes.
Remove from the heat; stir in the ham, cheese and thyme. Spread the mixture evenly into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Cool, then refrigerate until firm, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.
Meanwhile, make the pea sauce: Bring 3 cups water and the garlic to a boil in a saucepan. Add the peas; cook until thawed, 30 seconds. Drain, then transfer the peas and garlic to a blender. Add the broth and lemon zest; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat about 3 inches of oil to 340 degrees in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Place the remaining 1/4 cup flour, the eggs and the saltine crumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes. Cut the chilled dough into 20 4-inch-long croquettes. Dredge each in flour, then dip in the eggs, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the saltines.
Fry the croquettes in the oil in batches until golden brown. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt and serve with the pea sauce.