When we think of holiday cocktail party fare, some of these usual edible suspects come to mind: caviar, smoked salmon, deviled eggs.
There is a reason why we often see these tasty protagonists in many holiday spreads. Deviled eggs are the perfect bite-size palate teaser and pleaser, while smoked salmon and caviar scream holiday fancy.
But let me tickle YOUR fancy with two creative takes on classic holiday offerings: my avocado mousse deviled eggs and “Food and Wine” inspired mini blini salmon and caviar napoleons.
Both are finger foods that will pair great with a crispy white wine like Sauvignon blanc or Champagne, which seems to flow freely and frequently at many December parties. Sounds like your guests may be in for a real treat, also considering that both avocados and caviar are known aphrodisiacs. The former thanks to its pear shape and creamy flesh and the latter in part due to its high zinc content. Some food for thought, also as you plan your next romantic tête-à-tête.
But whether it’s your next dinner for two or your holiday cocktail party, these fresh creative recipes will impress and excite (wink wink) your guests
Avocado Mousse Deviled Eggs with Tomato Confit:
These simple holiday treats are the perfect cocktail party starter and a fresh departure from traditional deviled eggs. Create with Christmas-themed colors that will serve as eye catchers enhancing the balanced play of flavors and textures of the boiled egg, creamy avocado mousse and the tangy confit.
The doses are for a 24 ”nest” egg platter.
• 12 eggs + 4 for the mousse
• 4 avocados
• juice of 2-3 lemons
• 2 tbs of yellow mustard
• about 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
• ½ small onion, chopped
• 1 pint of grape tomatoes
• a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan filled with cold water, boil the eggs for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and run cold water to cool. Peel the eggs and set aside.
For the mousse:
Peel the avocados, by first cutting them in half, leaving the pit intact inside one avocado half. After separating the two halves, remove the pit from one and the peel from each half.
Dice the avocados coarsely and add to a good food processor along with the lemon juice and blend together. Add the 4 boiled eggs, also cut into pieces, plus the mustard, the chopped onion and the olive oil. Continue blending, occasionally scraping the sides, until you have obtained a creamy mousse-like consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the confit:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut the grape tomatoes vertically in half, arrange on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 30-45 minutes until they appear shrunk.
Remove from oven and cool.
Run through a sieve or potato mill, so that the peels are left behind and you collect the baked pulp. If using a sieve or a fine mesh strainer, you can press the baked tomatoes against it with a spoon so that you get as much pulp through.
Cut the eggs in half and arrange on an egg platter. Pipe the mousse on top of the eggs and drop a tiny dollop of confit on top of the more pointed end of the egg.
Note: For this recipe, I left the cooked yolks in and topped them with the avocado mousse. The yolks from the cooked eggs would have been too many to use in the avocado mousse and I did not want to waste them. But if you have another use for them and want to take them out and then fill the hole with the mousse, that is just as well.
Mini Blini Salmon and Caviar Napoleons:
A few years ago, I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine. I was so intrigued by the novelty and originality that I decided to try it for our upcoming Yuletide bash, but with the addition of smoked salmon, sandwiched between the layers of blini. And it was such a hit with the party guests, that I am offering this original recipe to you this holiday season.
The doses are for 42 pieces, which are more than you need for the napoleons, but since you can make them ahead, you can save the extras for brunch and fill them with scrambled eggs, fruit and cream or other fillings of your choice.
• 1/4 cup warm water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
• 1 1/2 cups milk, plus more as needed
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
• 1 1/2 cups crème fraîche
• 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 ounces caviar
• 4 ounces sliced smoked salmon
In a bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1 1/2 cups of milk and the egg. Add both flours and the salt and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
Set a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat and brush with butter. Pour in a scant 1/3 cup of the batter and swirl to coat the pan. Cook the blini until tiny bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is browned, 2 minutes. Carefully flip the blini and cook until the bottom is lightly browned in spots, 30 seconds. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan and whisking in 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk to thin the batter as needed. You should have about 13 blini. Let cool slightly.
In a bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the crème fraîche until stiff. Spread a thin layer of crème fraîche on 8 blini and arrange the sliced smoked salmon on 1 blini, then and stack the blinis so that the blini with the smoked salmon is in the middle (blini 5 out of 9). Trim off the rounded edges of the stack and cut into 1-inch squares, using a sharp knife (otherwise it will be challenging to cut through the salmon). Dollop caviar on top and sprinkle with chives.
To hold the blini squares together, and also enhance the presentation, I suggest inserting a decorative cocktail party toothpick in each square before serving.