Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Appies whet the appetite

Whether you call them hors d'oeuvre or appetizers, they are a great way to share friendship during the holiday season

Whether we like it or not, we’re on the downward slide to Christmas which is preceded by company parties and  other gatherings. More often than not, we will be asked to bring an appetizer to share at these events.

Late 20th century dictionaries treat appetizers and hors d’oeuvres — popularly understood to be bite-sized finger foods offered at cocktail parties and receptions —  as synonyms. By the 1860s in England and America, the word appetizer was used simply to provide an Anglophone equivalent for the French hors d’oeuvre. Early physicians recommended eating small morsels of salty meats prior to a meal in order to prepare the digestive system for the main course and to ensure proper digestion. In our era, finger foods allow groups to mingle while enjoying a good variety of tasty morsels.

Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Dip

12 ounces broccoli florets (about 6 cups)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 -1/2 cups half-and-half

8 ounces mild Cheddar, shredded (about 2-1/2 cups)

4 ounces Monterey Jack, shredded (about 1-1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Roasted potato wedges, toast points, crudites or potato chips, for serving

Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat to 450 F.

Toss broccoli florets with the oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper on a baking sheet and spread out in single layer. Roast the broccoli until browned in parts and tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer broccoli to a cutting board to cool. Coarsely chop broccoli.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 mins. Add garlic and stir until softened, about 2 mins. Stir in flour and cook until flour is lightly browned and has paste-like consistency, 3 to 5 mins. Stir in half-and-half and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture just comes to a simmer and has thickened to consistency of heavy cream, 10 to 15 mins.

Turn off the heat and stir in the Cheddar and Monterey Jack until melted. Gently stir in the roasted broccoli and mustard. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a serving dish and serve with roasted potato wedges or other dippers.

Turkey Cocktail Meatballs with Orange Cranberry Glaze

1-1/4 pounds ground turkey

1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup canned jellied cranberry sauce

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon minced Fresno pepper (optional)

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Mix turkey, poultry seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper in bowl. Stir in egg, milk and bread crumbs. Cover with plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.

Roll the turkey mixture into balls, about one tablespoon each. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the skillet. Brown meatballs on all sides, flipping occasionally. Place browned meatballs on a clean baking sheet. Set aside.

Combine cranberry sauce, marmalade and chicken broth over medium heat in the skillet used to cook the meatballs. Stir in the jalapeno and Fresno peppers, then return meatballs to skillet.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the centre and glaze is reduced. Season with salt and pepper.

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