The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

December 11, 2013

Flexible ideas take fuss out of dishing up variety

JOPLIN, Mo. — Fantasizing about throwing a big holiday bash but fearful you'll spend the whole party -- or worse, the whole week -- in the kitchen prepping? We've got you covered.

We've assembled an easy mix-and-match approach to holiday entertaining. An hour or so of prep and you'll have enough nibbles to feed a crowd in high style.

Here's how it works: We've divided the menu into 10 "base" ingredients. Each ingredient is paired with three simple suggestions for dressing it up for the party. All you need to do is pick enough base ingredients to feed your crowd, then decide how you'd like to prepare each. A little shopping, a little prepping, then you're ready to party.

Many of these options make easy dips, spreads or other toppings for bread, so when you make that trip to the grocer, round out the menu with a variety of crackers and baguettes or pita bread that can be sliced and toasted.

 

Brie

  • Top a round of brie with purchased fig jam and toasted pecans.
  • Top slices of brie on a platter with a quick fresh herb sauce (puree 1/2 cup parsley, 1/2 cup chives and 1/4 cup cilantro with 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, season with salt and black pepper).
  • Place a round of brie in a small, shallow baking dish. Bake at 250 F for 10 minutes, then top with fresh berries and drizzle with warmed orange marmalade.



Goat cheese

  • Spread on slices of baguette, then broil for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Top with sliced strawberries and black pepper.
  • Stuff into Peppadew or sweet cherry peppers.
  • Top a log of goat cheese with crumbled bacon and thinly sliced scallions.
  • Manchego cheese
  • Skewer cubes of manchego with Castelvetrano olives and grape tomatoes.
  • Stuff pitted dates with a piece of manchego, then wrap each date with half a slice of prosciutto. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Make a slaw by slicing fennel paper thin, shredding manchego, then tossing both with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

     

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