Packaged Savory Parmesan Shortbread in the poinsettia display Homestead Gardens, Severna Park

 

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

Onward and upward we go to the second set of recipes for the holidays along with some charming platters and trays to serve them.

Savory Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread

For the holidays, the dough can be rolled to a little thicker than 1/4-inch and cut out with cookie cutters. Other times of the year the dough can be placed directly on the baking sheet and scored with a knife to make rectangular shapes. Take your time as the dough is fragile. The trick to making great shortbread is processing the dough just long enough so it can be rolled out but is still a little crumbly.

Tip: Grate the cheese just before making the dough so it is as fresh as possible.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan or other hard grating cheese (Locatelli, Manchego), finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly rosemary, chopped 

 Preheat oven to 325°F.

 Place flour, sugar, salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut butter into 1/2-inch chunks  and add, along with the cheese, to the processor; pulse until butter is evenly distributed and dough holds together when pinched.

Place the dough on parchment paper and form into an evenly thick rectangle. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin until the is a bit more than 1/4-inch thick. Using  cookie cutters of your choice, cut out and save remaining dough to roll out again. Carefully place on a silpat or parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.

 Bake for 17-24 minutes, or until the cookies are starting to turn golden. Cool on racks before serving. Store in an airtight container. 

SUGGESTED PAIRING

Juicy, lively rosé

 

Pepper Wedges with Tomato and Basil

Makes 16 

This is one of the liviest colorful hors d'oeuvre for the holiday season. The bell pepper wedges taste fresh and are extremely nutritious.

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 small green onions with tops, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 anchovy fillets, drained, dried and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 mini sweet bell peppers, 1 red, orange and 1 yellow

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

 To make filling:  In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mince garlic.   Add green onions and chop fine.   Add tomatoes, basil and anchovies and pulse until the mixture is chopped into small pieces; do not puree.  Remove to small bowl and stir in olive oil, capers and pepper.

 To prepare peppers:  Cut peppers in half through stem end, remove seeds making 16 halves.  Fill each wedge with tomato mixture.  Place in a shallow baking dish bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the peppers are tender, but not limp.  Cool to room temperature.   (The peppers may be refrigerated overnight.  Bring to room temperature before serving.)

SUGGESTED PAIRING

Shiraz wine

 

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Apple Horseradish Cream

Serves 12 

 The sweet and earthy potatoes balance perfectly with the tang of creamy horseradish sweetened with fresh apple.

  • 12 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 12 ounces russet potato, peeled and shredded
  • 1 medium onion, grated, excess liquid squeezed out
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped apple
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, squeezed dry

 Preheat the oven to 250°F.

 In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato, russet potato, onion, egg, flour, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 24 patties, approximately 2 tablespoons each and about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

 Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 12 pancakes and cook, turning once, for 7 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and repeat.

 Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt (or sour cream), apple and horseradish; mix well. Serve with the pancakes. 

SUGGESTED PAIRING

Sparkling Proseco or Pinot Grigio

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