The holidays are coming, starting with Thanksgiving next week — now’s the time to gather with friends, family and guests. For these occasions, appetizers are just the thing.  We asked Brenda King, who has a reputation of being a stellar home cook, to share some of her favorite tiny bites.  Here they are, from super spicy comfort appetizers to rich and easy-to-make finger foods.

Apps_Overview

Great small bites from Brenda King.  Clockwise from front, Croutons with Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese Mustard and Dill; Hogs in A Blanket; Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toasts; Endive with Cherry Preserves, Blue Cheese and Almonds; and Brazilian Onion Bites.  Got a great recipe?  Send it to us, info@cricketpress.com.

Brazilian Onion Bites

Onion Bites

Brazilian Onion Bites, easy and yummy.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • 1 loaf, Henry’s sliced white bread, crusts removed
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Set oven to 350 degrees.  Thinly slice onions lengthwise into slivers.  Mix onion with half of the mayo, salt and pepper.  Put aside.  Then, divide slices of bread into two stacks.  Lightly spread remaining mayonnaise on one side on half of bread.  Cut all bread slices into quarters/squares.  Lay out squares from remaining bread (the “dry” ones), and top these with light layer of the onion mixture.  Top them with the rest of the squares, mayonnaise side up.  Place on baking sheet and sprinkle generously with parmesan, bake until lightly golden.  Garnish with a sprig of something green.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toasts

Toasts

These Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toasts are tart and rich.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 4 cups fresh mixed mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup calvados, madeira or cognac
  • ¼ lb. goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • French bread cut into slices, brushed with olive oil and baked
  • ½ cup chopped parsley

Directions

  • Heat olive oil and two teaspoons of butter, add shallots and cook, stirring for 3–5 minutes until they begin to caramelize.  Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally for 8–10 minutes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  After mushrooms give off their juices, add thyme and stir one minute.  Add calvados and remaining butter.  Set aside to cool.  Separately, in a bowl mix the goat cheese with whipping cream.  Spread on bread slice, add mushroom mixture, and sprinkle with parsley.  Garnish with something green.

Hogs in A Blanket

Hogs

Andouille sausage makes this dish really easy (because it’s already cooked), and with the dipping sauce it can be extra spicy.

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. puff pastry, thawed and cut into four 5-inch squares
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten lightly with 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 packaged andouille sausage or chicken sausage

Directions

  • Set oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange pastry on your workspace.  Brush top edges of pastry with egg wash, and place sausage on opposite edge.  Roll up sausage, pressing edges to seal.  Set aside in freezer to firm up, approximately 10 minutes.  With serrated knife, cut the logs in ½ to 1-inch slices.  Bake for 25 minutes.  For dipping sauce, mix ½ sour cream and ¼ mayo with ⅓ cup siracha for dipping sauce.

Croutons with Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese Mustard and Dill

Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill (freeze dried if fresh is not available)
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • Thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • French baguette cut into slices, brushed with olive oil and baked until crisp

Directions

  • Blend first five ingredients in a small bowl.  Spread goat cheese, softened on bread, top with mustard mixture and thinly sliced smoked salmon.  Garnish with dill and lemon zest.

Endive with Cherry Preserves, Blue Cheese and Almonds

Endive

Endive is available all year and this sweet/salty/spicy/bitter/crunchy combo is one appetizer that will disappear fast.

Ingredients

  • 3 heads of endive
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup cherry preserves
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions

  • This recipe can be made up to eight hours in advance.  Toast slivered almonds and set aside.  Mix cherry preserves with red pepper, set aside.  Then, trim bottoms off endive, separate leaves and rinse and pat each dry.  Arrange leaves on platter.  Spoon a light teaspoon of the cherry preserve/chili flake mixture on each leaf.  Sprinkle blue cheese on top of each.  Then top all with toasted almonds.