The holidays are here—bring on the potlucks and dinner parties! Stumped as to what to prepare? The experts at Lurcat Catering in Naples have you covered—here, they share their go-to and trending holiday dishes, which we’ve arranged into categories from “Easy” to “From Scratch” based on your level of ambition.
Warm cheese dips
Use Gouda, heavy cream, cream cheese and sautéed onion to make a decadent cheese dip to spread on crackers and bread. Also great served with apples, crudité and other fresh fruits.
Chef Jack Raben’s manchego and smoked almond stuffed dates with herbs and prosciutto are an easy and incredibly delicious appetizer for guests. Simply cut dried dates in half and remove the pit. Mix shredded manchego, crushed smoked almonds and chives together, and press the mixture into the dates. Wrap the stuffed dates with thinly sliced prosciutto and bake in the oven until the prosciutto is crispy. Chef Jack drizzles them with pomegranate molasses, but he says any aged balsamic also works.
Holiday cookie bar
Decorate your own gingerbread men, sugar cookies and other homemade favorites.
Polenta and cheesy grits
Corn meal, chicken stock and goat cheese is all that is needed for this wonderful side dish. Most recipes call for a 3:1 ratio of stock to corn meal, but 4:1 renders a softer product. Then simply whisk in goat cheeses or any soft cheese of your choice to finish.
Butternut squash soup shooter or soup course
Savory, not sweet. Use sour cream or crème fraiche and chicken stock for maximum flavor, combined with pureed squash and onion mixture. (Pass through chinois before coming for ultra-smooth texture.) Shooters are fun and eye-catching way to serve creamy soups, enabling guests to sip and savor without having to sit down with a bowl and spoon.
A popular hors d’oeuvres in the ’50s and ’60s, Rumaki—a water chestnut wrapped in bacon and marinated in a sweet and salty soy-brown sugar mix—remains a retro favorite when serving traditional holiday foods. Chopped chicken liver can be added if you’re adventurous. Skewer ingredients together with a toothpick and bake in the oven for a few minutes, then finish under the broiler to crisp. Lurcat Catering has received a few requests for Hawaiian-themed cocktail hours, and this is a perfect bite to celebrate and incorporate Polynesian themes.
This type of roast is inexpensive and great for parties. Depending on the size of the event, a pork tenderloin to a rump or Boston butt roast would also work. The idea is to “butterfly” and roll out the pork, spread herbs and garlic over the meat, roll it back up and roast it. This way, the meat is seasoned from the inside and is moist and wonderful. Slice and serve, and it looks beautiful on a plate.
A fast and tasty herb mix is:
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano (or any other savory herbs on hand)
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 T. fennel seed, toasted
Always a holiday hors d’oeuvres table favorite. Take brie wheel and divide cheese in half so you have two wheels, spread the bottom wheel with fruit mostarda (recipe below) or fig jam and wrap in puff pastry. Brush lightly with butter and bake until puff pastry until golden and cheese is softened. For added décor, take leaf-shaped cookie cutter and punch out leaf shapes or other from extra puff pastry and place on top of brie/pastry wheel before baking. Serve on platter for guests to slice as desired.
Dried apricot and cherry mostarda:
- 4 oz dried apricots cut in quarters
- 4 oz dried cherries
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 t. minced crystallized ginger
- 1/2 C. white wine
- 3 T. water
- 1 t. dry mustard
- 1/2 t. Dijon/stone ground mustard
- 1 t. gutter
Cook fruit until soft with all ingredients except dry mustard, Dijon/stone ground mustard and butter. Remove from heat, mix in the remaining three ingredients and cool.