Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: An appie exchange fills the freezer

Cookie exchanges have long been a popular Christmas tradition, but an appetizer exchange is a great way to stock up for the holidays

Sharing our favourite foods with family and friends has been happening for eons and so it’s only natural that it has come into our Christmas traditions, some as gifts and others with exchanges.

Cookie exchanges have been with us for decades but recently, appetizers and squares have joined the fun.  Appetizers are ideal for exchanges but should be made fresh and with a recipe that will freeze well. For any exchange, plan to have at least six to 12 people involved, including yourself.

Each participant will make 12 appetizers per person involved (again don’t forget yourself).  It is recommended to decide on the appies ahead of time so you don’t have duplicates.

Broiling and final heating is left to the participants to complete, so do attach the recipe along with the re-heating instructions. Be sure to pack each dozen carefully to prevent breaking on the way home.

You’ll end up with a good variety and enough appetizers for several small gatherings or for one large group without all the work.

Today’s recipes are a little different from the same old, same old but are always a hit.

Sauerkraut Balls

1/2 lb. pork sausage meat

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp. flour

1 can (14 oz.) sauerkraut, well-drained and finely chopped

4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut up

1 tsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. pepper

Coating:

1/3 cup flour

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. water

1 cup fine bread crumbs

Fat for deep-frying

Scramble-fry sausage and onion in frying pan until no pink remains in meat and onion is soft.  Sprinkle flour on top. Mix.

Add sauerkraut, cream cheese, mustard, parsley, salt, garlic and pepper. Stir until blended. Chill until it will hold its shape. Roll into 1-inch balls.

Coating: Measure flour into small bowl.

Beat eggs and water with a fork in another bowl.

Roll balls in flour to coat. Dip in egg mixture. Coat with bread crumbs.

Carefully drop 1 at a time until there are about four, in hot 385 to 400 F fat. Deep-fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to tray lined with paper towels.

These may be made ahead and heated in 400 F oven for 8 minutes until hot. If frozen, heat in 350 F oven for 12 minutes until hot. Makes about 30 appies.

Chicken Avocado

Egg Rolls

2 tbsp. canola oil

1/2 cup finely minced red onion

1/4 cup finely minced red bell peppers

2 tbsp. minced ginger

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

2 cups chopped chicken breast

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup julienned green cabbage

1/2 cup shredded carrots

4 cups rice bran oil or canola oil

12 egg roll wrappers

2 avocados, sliced into 24 pieces

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

Jarred sweet chili sauce, for dipping

In a sauté pan over high heat, add canola oil. Sauté red onions and bell peppers until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, bamboo shoots, celery and chicken, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Deglaze pan with soy sauce.  Cool mixture.

In large bowl combine cabbage, carrots and chicken mixture.

In medium saucepan, heat oil to 350 degrees F. Oil needs to be deep enough to keep egg roll from touching bottom of pan. Add more oil, if needed.

To roll egg rolls, lay out egg roll skin with corner facing you, place approximately 1/12th of mixture on roll and place 2 pieces of avocado on top of mixture. Fold corner over mixture, and then fold outside corners over the mixture, making a roll, 4 to 5 inches wide. Roll firmly, being careful not to tear wrapper, and seal the final edge with egg wash.

Dredge the egg roll in egg wash (the egg mixed with the milk), allow excess to drain off and submerge egg roll in oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on sheet tray lined with a cooling rack.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

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