Host A Holiday Party Without The Hassle

Lots of good eating recipes for the holidays

Cooking class instructor Terry Morris adds a touch of spice to a plate of appetizers her latest cadre of students has just finished mixing and making Tuesday at the Payson Public Library.

Cooking class instructor Terry Morris adds a touch of spice to a plate of appetizers her latest cadre of students has just finished mixing and making Tuesday at the Payson Public Library. |

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Marie Miller cuts up imitation crab into small pieces for an appetizer that is being prepared for the “Holiday Fare” cooking class taught by Terry Morris.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Raise your glasses high in celebration and toast of a well-prepared meal.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Billie Dibbs slices scallions into small sections before tossing them into a bowl that will be used to mix up a quiche delight.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

All hands come together and prepare an appetizer in its final stages before being spooned into little scones. Left to right are, Terry Morris, Alice Natale, Judy Nessen, Evelyn Pickens and Billie Dibbs.

Your holiday party could be just a family gathering, an open house or a whole gang of people descending on your cozy Rim Country home. Regardless of the group you have to feed, there are things to do to take the hassle out of holiday entertaining and make it just as happy for you as for your guests.

To help streamline holiday entertaining, Terry Morris, director of the Payson Public Library, presented a cooking class Nov. 17 with the theme of “Holiday Fare.”

The class included instruction on making four different appetizers, a sweet and a savory bread pudding and quiche, plus recipes for a number of other dishes.

APPETIZERS

Marinated Olives

Use both green and black olives, drained

Olive oil, enough to come about halfway up the depth of the olives in your container (Morris used one of the plastic tubs in which some lunch meat is packaged and had enough olives to fill it about 1/3 full)

Crushed red pepper, sea or Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, season to taste

Combine ingredients, cover and marinate for at least two hours, longer if possible.

Marinated Shrimp

2 to 4 cups cooked shrimp

Olive oil to coat generously

Rice vinegar to coat generously

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

Sea or Kosher salt

Combine ingredients in a plastic container, stir well, cover and refrigerate to marinate at least two hours, longer if possible

Radishes on Toast

1 small loaf of artisan bread (Morris

recommends those sold at Safeway)

4 to 6 large radishes

Butter

Salt

Cut bread into 1/4-inch slices, toast under broiler until lightly browned, turn and toast other side.

Thinly slice radishes.

Butter one side of toasted bread and top with two or three thin slices of radishes, then lightly sprinkle with salt.

Serve warm or at room temperature

Crab in Pastry Shells

Cream cheese, softened

Crab meat, separated and diced

1 green onion, diced

Juice of half a lemon

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

Cajun seasoning

Blackened seasoning

Dash of salt

Small pastry shells (ready-to-use Athens

Mini Fillo Shells were used)

Paprika and fresh parsley to garnish

Combine cream cheese, crab, green onion, lemon juice and seasonings, place in ready-to-use pastry shells, sprinkle with paprika and garnish with a single parsley leaf. Chill before serving.

Jalapeno with Cream Cheese and Bacon

Jalapenos, skin split on one side, seeds

scraped out

Cream cheese, softened

Bacon, cut in half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Fill jalapeno cavity with cream cheese.

Wrap jalapeno with half of bacon slice, securing all with a toothpick.

Place individual peppers on cooking sheet and bake until bacon is crisp.

A couple of no-cook appetizers

• Smoked salmon on buttered brown bread

• Endive leaves stuffed with Gorgonzola

cheese

• Spicy salami with sliced hothouse

cucumbers

• Cheese straws

Main dishes at holiday parties don’t have to be complicated. Savory quiches and bread puddings are no more difficult to put together than a casserole, but seem a bit more festive.

Herbed Mushroom Bread Pudding

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus softened

butter or vegetable oil cooking spray to

coat baking dish

1/2 cup dried mushrooms, such as porcini,

chanterelles or morels (1/2 ounce)

3/4 cup good white wine (or water)

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, such as

buttons, crimini, shiitakes or oyster,

stemmed and thinly sliced

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2

teaspoons dried

5 large eggs

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Sea or Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups bread cubes from day-old country-

style loaf (or combination of croissants,

French bread and sourdough)

2 cups grated Gruyére cheese

Fresh parsley for garnish

To reconstitute dried mushrooms, place in microwave-safe dish or plastic tub, cover with wine (or water), put container in a plastic bag, and place in microwave, heat for 2 to 3 minutes, remove from microwave and set aside.

Lightly butter or spray an 11-inch-by-7-inch baking dish

In a large skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat, add fresh mushrooms and onion and sauté for 3 minutes or until limp.

Place a piece of paper towel in a sieve and drain the reconstituted mushrooms, reserving liquid. Pat the mushrooms dry and add to fresh mushrooms and onion in skillet. Continue to sauté 10 to 12 minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are nicely browned. Add thyme and stir, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mushroom liquor, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, salt and pepper.

Arrange half of bread cubes in bottom of prepared baking dish, top with the mushrooms and layer with half the cheese, add remaining bread cubes and rest of the cheese.

Pour egg mixture over bread and mushrooms. Make sure all bread is covered, gently pressing to submerge if necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to allow bread to soak up egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pudding on middle rack and bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the edge comes out clean. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Two-Mushroom Quiche

6 small leeks (about 1 pound), roots and

ends trimmed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 partly thawed 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as oyster

and shiitake

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup of grated cheddar cheese (or

combination), lightly packed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse leeks well and drain. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Using fingers, push slices into rings. Set aside. Heat large skillet over medium heat and when warm, add olive oil. Reduce heat to medium low, add leeks and cook for about 5 minutes or until leeks begin to soften and glisten. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using fork, prick pie crust all over and pre-bake about 20 minutes or until brown.

Meanwhile, thinly slice mushroom caps and chop stems. Reheat leeks and add mushrooms, cooking over medium low heat for about 15 minutes or until very soft and fragrant.

Remove pie crust from oven and pour leek-mushroom mix into crust. Set aside. Beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper and pour over vegetables in crust. Sprinkle grated cheese over top and bake for about 30 minutes, or until set and flecked with brown spots.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Modified from Giada’s Family Dinners

Butter for baking dish

1 pound of mixed dry bread (croissants,

French and sour dough), torn into cubes

of about 1-inch in size

1 cup plus of golden raisins

1/3 cup Amaretto

8 large eggs

1-1/2 cups heavy cream or combination of

heavy cream, half-and-half or liquid coffee

creamer (flavor of choice)

2-1/2 cups whole milk

1-1/4 sugar

Put raisins in microwave-safe bowl, add Amaretto, put bowl in plastic bag and microwave a few minutes to rehydrate. Remove from microwave and set aside. Lightly butter a 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch baking dish. Arrange bread cubes in prepared dish. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, milk and sugar to blend. Add raisins and liquor, stir. Pour custard mix over bread and gently press to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake the pudding until it puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly, then spoon into dessert bowls and top with Amaretto Sauce (recipe to follow).

Amaretto Sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup Amaretto

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bring the cream, milk and sugar to boil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the Amaretto and cornstarch to blend, then whisk into cream mixture. Simmer over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Keep warm or refrigerate up to three days and reheat.

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