Simple holiday appetizers

Endive Leaves with Pear, Walnuts and Roquefort
(Makes about 18 to 20)

2 heads of Belgian endive
1 ripe red-skinned pear, unpeeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup walnut pieces, broken if large, toasted at 350° F. for 3 to 5 minutes
2 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Trim end from heads of endive, and separate, rinse, and dry leaves. Lay out on a platter and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, toss together diced pear, walnuts and cheese. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add olive oil gradually and whisk to blend. Toss with pear mixture and top endive leaves.


Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Crab Remoulade
(Makes 24)

2 dozen cherry tomatoes
1 large egg, boiled for 15 minutes
4 teaspoons Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon stone-ground (grainy) mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Dash cayenne
1 scallion (green onion), minced
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 small clove garlic, minced
3 ounces lump crabmeat

Slice tops off cherry tomatoes, and cut tiny slices off bottoms so that they’ll stand up. Scoop out insides carefully and turn upside down to drain on paper toweling.

While tomatoes are draining, reserve white of boiled egg and mash the yolk with mayonnaise. Add lemon juice and whisk. Don’t worry about any little lumps.

Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, paprika, Tabasco and cayenne, and mix well. Mince egg white fine and add it to sauce along with scallion, onion, parsley and garlic. Mix well and fold in crabmeat without pulverizing it. Stuff tomatoes with crab mixture and serve.


Baked Sheep Camembert with Almond Crumb Crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 very small shallot, minced finely
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped
2 teaspoons minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 (two) 4-ounce squares Hudson Valley Camembert from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company
Plain Melba toast, “petit toasts” or thin slices of baguette, toasted, for serving

Melt butter over low heat in skillet. Sauté minced shallot and almonds until the almonds are golden, then stir in panko and remove from heat. Let cool, then chop up a little to break up almonds. On a plate, add chopped cherries, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.

Coat Camembert squares with beaten egg and dip all sides in almond-crumb mixture, pressing in slightly to help it adhere. Place the coated squares in a shallow baking dish corner-to-corner and chill one hour or longer.

Preheat oven to 350° F. about 20 minutes before baking. Bake squares for about 7 to 8 minutes.


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