Natural Foods Cooking Instructor and Food Blogger Pamela Salzman joined us live with some delicious, easy to make holiday hors d’oeuvres. You can find more of her delicious recipes at pamelasalzman.com or on twitter @pamelasalzman.
MAC & CHEESE BITES
(MAKES 36-48, depending on the size of your muffin tin)
½ pound elbow macaroni
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for brushing
¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk
½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 packed cups)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt
1 large egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni a few minutes less than the package recommends. You want it to be al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Brush 2 24-cup mini-muffin pans with butter (I like the silicone pans.) Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of grated Pecorino and tap out the excess.
3. In a large saucepan (you can use the same one used for the macaroni) melt the butter. When butter bubbles, whisk in flour and cook for a minute or two. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheddar cheese, dry mustard, cayenne, paprika and salt, and whisk until melted.
4. Turn off the heat and stir in the egg. Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.
5. Take a tablespoon of the macaroni and spoon it into each greased muffin cup. Sprinkle the remaining Pecorino on top.
6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until browned on top. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully loosen the mini mac & cheeses and serve.
Notes: this can be prepared up to a day in advance until the point of baking and kept covered in the refrigerator.
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS (SERVES 18)
1 3/4-lb red-skinned sweet potato (yam), peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of cayenne pepper
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 2 Tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup chilled butter milk
7. Cook sweet potatoes in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain, cool, and mash.
8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with 1 ½-inch-high side.
9. Whisk flour and next five ingredients in a large bowl.
10. Add cubed butter to flour mixture; toss to coat and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
11. Whisk ¾ cup mashed sweet potatoes and buttermilk in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture; toss with fork.
12. Gather mixture in bowl, kneading until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto floured work surface and pat into 1-inch-thick round. Using 1 ½-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits, flouring cutter after each cut. Gather scraps; pat into 1-in-thick round and cut out additional biscuits (do not reuse scraps more than once).
13. Arrange biscuits side by side in prepared cake pan. Brush with melted butter.
14. Bake until puffed and golden on top and tester inserted into center biscuit comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn biscuits out and gently pull them apart.
GREEK NACHOS (SERVES 8)
12 cups pita chips
1 cucumber, diced (large seeds removed)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
6 ounces, feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, diced
½ pint tzatziki
½ pint hummus
15. Arrange pita chips on a platter.
16. Scatter cucumber, tomatoes, feta and olives on top.
17. Dollop hummus and tzatziki all over pita and vegetables or use a squeeze bottle.
PROVENCAL GOAT CHEESE GRATIN (SERVES 8)
6 medium tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces soft goat cheese (rindless)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, minced or a pinch of dried
20 black olives (such as French Nyons), pitted and quartered
18. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Score the bottom of the tomatoes and place in the water for 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Peel the tomatoes, cut in half around the “equator,” remove the seeds and finely chop.
19. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
20. Preheat the broiler.
21. Crumble the cheese on the bottom of a 10-inch round baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon just enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with the olives and the remaining herbs.
22. Place the baking dish under the broiler about 3 inches from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant, and the tomato sauce is sizzling, 2-3 minutes.
23. Serve with crackers, toast or flatbread.
*You can also substitute 1 ½ – 2 cups jarred tomato sauce for the fresh.