With the passing of Halloween, we find ourselves in the thick of the holiday season. With that comes entertaining, parties and the need for new and interesting recipes. Today I am featuring one that I found in the most recent Penzeys Spice Catalog that arrived this week in the mail. Often I recycle the deluge of catalogs that arrive this time of year without even perusing them but I am a big fan of the fresh spices carried by this company, so this is one a set aside to check out. We are fortunate to have two Penzeys Spice stores in our area, but if that does not apply to you, you can order them online. Their publication is always full of great stories and recipes submitted by their customers and many times they offer coupons for free products. If you are not familiar, I urge you to check it out.
That said, I am always in search of innovative appetizer recipes to add to my collection. The reason being that finger foods are one of my favorite ways to entertain and I always offer an appetizer class before Thanksgiving for my students. It seems everyone wants to serve or bring something that will wow the guests at upcoming gatherings. Since my state of Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland, these bites featuring cheddar and butter seemed like they would be a big hit. What’s not to love, right? You might be thinking they are a bit indulgent but I found these crisps a welcome change from many of the sweet holiday offerings and because they pack a punch of flavor I was satisfied not eating an overabundance.
Here is how it went down in my kitchen.
CHEESE PECAN CRISPS Yield 6 doz.
Recipe featured in Penzeys Spice Catalog November 2016
1/2c unsalted butter (1 stick, softened)
1 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (or 1/2 lb. extra sharp & 1/2 lb. sharp)
1/4-1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t Hungarian-Style Sweet Paprika
1c finely chopped pecans
- In a large bowl, combine the butter and cheese.
- in a second bowl, sift together the flour, salt and spices. Add to the cheese mixture and mix well using your hands or food processor on low. If mixture is too dry, microwave for 15 seconds at a time to soften the butter.
- Add the pecans and mix well. Divide the dough into three parts and roll into logs, pressing with your hands to help it hold together. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours, until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheets with cooking spray. Place a piece of parchment paper on the sheets and then turn them over so the parchment is greased.
- Slice the logs into about 6 dozen slices, about 1/4 inch thick, and place on pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until set and golden. Remove from the pans to a cooling rack while still warm.
These would serve nicely as an offering on a cheese platter or as a replacement. Although I ate them plain, I think they could be dressed up a bit served with fig or apricot jam. The addition of the cayenne pepper gave them depth without offering too much heat (I added just 1/4t). You could adjust that to your taste, but I thought they were perfect as is. The sharp cheddar was also a good choice as it paired nicely with the nuttiness and crunch of the pecans. I think one could substitute whatever nuts you like, unless there are nut allergies to consider, then you might want to substitute sesame or sunflower seeds. The catalog suggested caraway seed for added texture and said they were a “must have” at any party. I know they will be making many appearances at my house.
We celebrated Halloween this week, and as is tradition, this meant preparing dinner for a young family we know who make a point of dining with us after trick or treat. Since costumes and characters change, I never know who will be showing up at our door. This year it was Katy Perry and The Dementor. Regardless of who it ends up to be in any given year, love always abounds as we sit at the table, share stories and break bread together.
The next time I visit you we will have a new president-elect. It my hope that despite the outcome, we can come together as citizens of this great country, promote peace on earth and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Until next time, I send love from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne