The holidays are upon us, and while ’tis the season to be jolly, it’s also the season of eating! Holiday parties abound this time of year and I don’t know about you, but my mother taught me to never show up empty-handed. Here are a couple of deliciously easy appetizers that you can take with you as the perfect way to show
appreciation to your host/hostess while filling the bellies of fellow partygoers as they indulge before kicking off their obligatory New Year’s resolution diets come Jan. 1.

Local chef Andrew Gregory has drawn from his 20-plus years in professional kitchens to put a new twist on a classic holiday app that has stood the test of time: deviled eggs. You either love them or you hate them, but here, Gregory hams it up a bit by adding smoky hues with crispy, crumbled pancetta. How can you go wrong when you marry crunchy and creamy textures into one?

Add to that a personal favorite of my own, which I borrowed from my grandmother-in-law: baked brie bites. Trust me, they’re dangerously delicious — and I don’t even like brie! But I do like these. They’re the perfect complement of
sweet-meets-savory and they’re so quick and easy to make a total bonus at the holidays when free time is at a premium. Enjoy!

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ANDREW GREGORY’S PANCETTA AND CHIVE DEVILED EGGS

12 hardboiled eggs
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
chives, fi nely minced
pancetta, crispy and crumbled
smoked paprika

For this yummy tried-and-true holiday favorite, you’ll need a few simple kitchen tools: a pastry cutter, whisk, large fork, bowl, and piping bag.

Slice eggs in half and remove yolks. Mix yolks with mayo, Dijon, lemon, Worcestershire and seasonings. Put mixture into a piping bag with a medium or large star tip (kitchen hack — put mix into a zip-lock bag and push it to fill in a corner, then cut corner off and pipe into hollowed out egg white — you can use the star tip in the zip-lock bag, if you have one). Fill egg whites with mixture.

Garnish each egg with pancetta and chive. Then sprinkle with smoked paprika and enjoy with friends!

(Andrew Gregory graduated from Western Culinary with a degree in culinary arts, and from the New England Culinary Institute with a B.A. in hospitality and restaurant management. He is a local chef, forager, farmer, and food lover.)

BAKED BRIE BITES

2 packages mini fi lo dough cups (usually found in the frozen dessert section at your local supermarket)
8-oz. triangle of brie
1 jar of fruit jam or preserves (raspberry, strawberry, peach, and apricot are all good choices).

Remove filo cups from plastic packaging tray and set them on a nonstick cookie sheet. Cut the brie into bite-sized squares and place into each cup. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until the brie is soft and creamy. Remove from
oven, spoon jam or preserves of choice over the brie, and serve. It doesn’t get much easier! (Makes 30 bites.)


Main Image Caption: GET BAKED: These brie bites are the perfect marriage of sweet and savory, crispy and creamy. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

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