Whether you are hosting a Christmas get together or need to take an appetizer to a holiday celebration, most of us want to make something that is easy and tasty. For me, the goal is to create an appetizer that can be eaten in one hand while sipping from a glass of eggnog in the other.
The month of December is all about food. There are just so many opportunities to bake, cook and eat! At my house Christmas Eve is the main event when it comes to appetizers. There are a few staples that appear year after year and have become a bit of a tradition.
My husband looks forward to scallops and bacon and it wouldn’t feel very festive for him if they weren't on the menu. Mostly, I go pretty low key, I wrap the sea scallop in a piece of bacon and roast them in the oven until the bacon crisps up. The key is to not over cook the scallop. Just par cook the bacon before wrapping around the scallop and they will be juicy and delicious. As an added treat sometimes I drizzle maple syrup or some brown sugar before roasting. Not for the faint of heart!
Race dip is my son in laws favourite and really is the only food he requests over the holidays. Well, except for turkey & stuffing sandwiches. We call it race dip because for years I have been making it for the Daytona 500 race. It’s really just a layered nacho dip served with good quality nacho chips. They need to be strong enough to hold a decent amount of dip without falling apart. There are loads of recipes to be found but check out the recipe section for my version. This one gets devoured pretty fast.
The tradition that my daughter & I love is finding something new to change things up. This year we are having spanakopita and a charcuterie board, which makes it easy to eat with one hand while lending variety to the menu. Charcuterie boards are so versatile and easy to customize. Epicurious has some great tips http://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-build-a-charcuterie-board-like-a-pro-article. This year we decided to have a couple of cheeses, olives, sliced meats and homemade crostini. But, I think everyone is really looking forward to the spanakopita. I turned my hand to making these tasty triangles last winter and they have quickly become a family favourite.
Making spanakopita is loads of fun and the only tricky part is using the phyllo dough but with a few tips its anot s difficult as it seems.
Melt butter & 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming add the spinach in batches, tossing and stirring until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set in a colander to cool, about 10 minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Coarsely chop spinach and place in medium size bowl
Melt the remaining olive oil in the same skillet and sauté onions until softened but not brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onions to the spinach. Then add the feta, nutmeg, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper and beaten eggs to the spinach & onion mixture. Stir to combine.
Melt butter and cool slightly and set aside..
Divide the phyllo into 4 sections. Work with 1 section at a time, keep the remainder in the fridge covered with a damp paper towel. You will only need 2 sections of the phyllo or half the package of phyllo, double the recipe to use all of the phyllo. These greek triangles freeze really well.
Take 1 sheet of phyllo from the section and lay on work surface, phyllo dries out quickly so cover the remainder with a damp paper towel. Brush the sheet of phyllo with butter, place the next sheet on top of the first and brush with butter, do this a with sheet number three.
Put a heaping teaspoon of the spinach mixture on the bottom of the buttered phyllo sheets. Fold corner of phyllo to enclose the filling and forming a triangle. Continue folding strip (like a flag) maintaining the triangle shape.
Place triangle seam-side down on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Continue making triangles.
The spanakopita can be frozen at this stage and when ready to eat, take directly from freezer brush each triangle with butter and bake in 375°F oven for 20-25 minutes or brush with butter and bake immediately for the same amount of time or until golden brown. Cool on rack. Serve at room temperature, hot or cold. These are delicious regardless of the temperature.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Preheat oven: 375°
Thaw phyllo dough in refrigerator overnight
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
11 ounces fresh spinach
3 green onions chopped (white & green part)
3/4 cup feta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
pinch of nutmeg
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 package of phyllo sheets
Trish is the top spoon at