Holiday Finger Foods

Recipe and Photos by Katie Lew of CookitFresh

Aged Gouda and Rosemary Short Breads with a Fig Jam Thumbprint

Aged Gouda is a hard cheese with a strong, nutty flavor. Parmesan could easily be substituted for the Gouda in this recipe but will have a much milder flavor. Regular Gouda is not a great substitute as it is too soft and mild for this dough.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 ounces finely grated aged Gouda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/3 cup fig jam

1.      In a food processor, pulse the flour, gouda, salt and rosemary leaves, just until combined. Add the cubed butter and pulse several times, until a soft dough forms. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide into two equal pieces. Form each piece into a log, about 12 inches long. Wrap the logs of dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

2.      While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 350º and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Once the dough has chilled enough to be firm, remove the logs from the plastic wrap and slice each into 12 1-inch slices, laying the slices on the prepared baking sheets.

3.      Using your thumb, press a small indentation into each shortbread round. Spoon about ½ teaspoon of fig jam into each indentation. Bake the filled shortbreads in the preheat oven for 12-15 minutes, or until they are just beginning to brown on the edges and jam has melted.

4.      Cool the baked shortbreads on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. If you try to handle them while they are still hot, they will crumble easily. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Kale and Sausage Tarts

Ingredients

1 package puff pastry, thawed

1/3 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings, cooked and drained

10 large leaves curly kale, rinsed, dried and torn into small pieces, each a couple inches wide

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon whole grain mustard

3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling the pans

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds

1.      Preheat oven to 400º. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard and 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Add a few grinds of black pepper and the kosher salt and whisk thoroughly. Add the torn kale to the dressing and toss to evenly coat all the leaves.

2.       Lightly oil a 12 cup muffin pan with olive oil. Cut  each sheet of puff pastry into 6 even rectangles and line each oiled muffin cup with one rectangle of puff pastry, stretching gently as needed to fit in the cup. You want the puff pastry to stick out a little bit over the side of the muffin cups.

3.      Lay a few of the pieces of dressed kale into each piece of puff pastry cup, top with 2 Tablespoons of the cooked sausage and then sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on top. Bake the tarts in the preheat oven for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns golden brown on the edges. Cool a few minutes before removing from the pan. Serve hot or at room temp.

Sweet and Tangy Red Pepper Relish

I like to serve this tangy relish over cool, creamy ricotta on crackers but it is also great as a spread on sandwiches.

Ingredients

2 large red bell peppers, seeds removed and finely diced

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup sugar

Ricotta and crackers for serving

1.      In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the bell peppers and salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the salt to draw out moisture from the peppers. After sitting for awhile, place the peppers in a fine mesh sieve and press with a rubber spatula to remove as much water as possible.

2.      Place the drained peppers in a medium saucepan. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir to combine well. Bring the pepper mixture to a simmer over medium low heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture thickens and becomes syrupy, about 45 minutes.

Cool relish to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Serve cold or at room temperature with ricotta and crackers.