With the holidays around the corner it’s time to start making my lists and checking them twice. Each year I’m in charge of our Christmas Eve cocktail party. As a kid, we would celebrate this evening at my Nana and Papa’s house. Being of both Italian and Irish decent, our snacks and appetizers were from recipes that have been handed down to my Nana from her mother and grandmother.
This year my hubby and I decided we would start something new. Our gift this year will be to tempt their pallets and awaken their taste buds. We are super blessed to have so many restaurants not only in our neighborhood but all through our city that enable us to enjoy food and cultures from all over the world. No need to travel thousands of miles to experience their wonderful flavors.
The recipes we have chosen to share with them are super simple, easy on the wallet and won’t keep you in the kitchen all day. I’ve also included dishes for our vegetarian and vegan family members as well. All flavors will pair well with craft beers, champagne and old school cocktails.
Light some candles, put on your favorite holiday record, sit back and enjoy the love of those around you. In a year where we have all struggled to be heard and understood, be sure to take time to learn, listen and care for your fellow human beings. Best wishes and dishes to you and yours. Cheers!!!
Tandoori Tofu Skewers
1 1/2 Cup yogurt or vegan coconut yogurt
1/2 Cup heavy cream or vegan coconut cream
1 Tofu block extra firm, pressed and cubed
3 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 Tbsp water
1 Tsp ajwan seeds, adjust to your taste
1/2 Tsp coriander powder
2 Tsp red chili powder, adjust to your taste
1 Tsp salt, adjust to your taste
1.5 Tsp turmeric
1 Tsp garam masala
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak 6 bamboo skewers in warm water for 10 minutes. Remove the tofu from the water and shake off all the extra water. Weigh it down for 15 minutes to remove all the water. Discard any water and cut tofu into 1” cubes. In a mixing bowl, add the yogurt, cream, tomato sauce and water. Mix well. Add all the spices for the marinade and set aside. Add the tofu to the marinade and mix gently. Allow the tofu to marinade at least 30min. Marinate it overnight, if possible. Take one skewer and spray with veggie spray (optional). Skewer each bamboo stick with 4 tofu cubes.Lightly spray a baking tray with veggie oil. Place the tofu skewers on the tray. Keep about 1/2” distance between each. Brush some of the marinade on the skewers and place the baking sheet in the oven. After 10 minutes, flip the skewers and baste. Bake for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oven and allow the skewers to cool for 5 minutes.
Baked Spanish Style Tortilla
2-3 Tablespoons Of Olive Oil
1 Lb Of Potatoes, Peeled And Sliced
1 Large Yellow Onion, Peeled And Sliced
12 Ounces Of Sliced Ham, Cut Into Thin Strips
1-2 Jalapeños (Or Green Bell Pepper) Seeds And Veins Removed, Thinly Sliced Or Diced
Salt And Pepper To Taste
Crumbled Queso Fresco
2-3 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, frying pan or sauté pan. Add the potato slices and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sliced onions and crushed garlic. Mix well and continue cooking for another 10 minutes – stirring occasionally. Add the ham strips and sliced jalapeños, mix and cook for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste and season with salt – the ham is naturally salty so you probably don’t need to add much salt. Remove from the heat and let the potato ham mix cool for about 5 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Beat eggs with some ground black pepper using a whisk or fork until you have a smooth mix. Add the potato ham mix to the eggs and stir gently. The tortillas can be baked in greased baking molds or an oven proof skillet. I like to use a cast iron skillet, it can go from oven to table. If using a baking dish, you can line the pan with parchment paper. Pour the tortilla mix into the baking molds and place in the pre-heated oven. Bake the potato and ham tortillas until they are fully cooked and they start to get golden on top.
Exact baking time will vary based on the size of the baking pan and thickness of the tortilla. The smaller ones made in 5-inch cast iron pans (at less than 1 inch of thickness) took about 18-20 minutes to be done. The larger one made in a rectangular 9 inch by 5 inch pan, and about 1.5 inch thick, took about 30-35 minutes to be done. Remove the baked Spanish tortilla from the oven. Let it cool down a little before removing from the baking mold. If lined with parchment paper you can just gently lift it out of the pan. If prepared in small individual serving molds then they can be served directly as is. Can be served warm or cold. Sprinkle with chopped parsley (or cilantro) and crumbled queso fresco.
Mini Italian Skewers
1 (8-9 Ounce) Package Of Refrigerated Cheese Tortellini
Approximately 50 Salami Slices (Usually 2 Small Packages)
About 50 Cubes Of Sharp White Cheddar (I Just Buy A Block And Cut It Into 1/4-Inch-Thick Pieces)
1 Bottle Of Your Favorite Italian Salad Dressing
1 (6 Ounce) Can Or Jar Of Medium Olives (Green, Black, Pimiento Stuffed, Kalamata, Or A Combination–Your Choice!)
Cook the tortellini according to the package directions (about 4 minutes). You do not want to overcook them! They’re more likely to fall apart if they’re too soft.
After cooking, drain the water and let the tortellini cool on the counter for about 10 minutes before placing them in a large ziplock bag or bowl. Dump the entire bottle of Italian dressing in with the tortellini and let them marinade for at least 2 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
On each toothpick, thread the marinated tortellini, salami, cheese slices, and olives however you would like. As you can see in the pictures, I like to stuff the cheese in-between the salami slices. I also place the olives on the end so that picky eaters can pull them off.
Arrange the skewers on a platter and watch as they quickly disappear! You can make these ahead of time and let them sit in the fridge so that you don’t have to worry about food prep while you’re trying to enjoy the party.
Crunchy Spring Rolls
2 Cups Shredded Cabbage
2 Medium Size Carrots
1 Medium Size Onion
1/2 Tsp Red Chili Powder
1/4 Tsp Garam Masala
2-3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
Salt To Taste
1/4 Cup Cilantro
20 Sheets Of Spring Rolls
2 Tsp Oil
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
3 Tbsp Aquafaba Or Oil
Place a pan over medium heat and add oil. When it heats up, add sliced onions and sauté until they turn transparent. Add garlic powder and continue to sauté. Add shredded cabbage and shredded carrots. Cook for about 2-3 minutes (half-cooked) and add red chili powder, Garam Masala. Continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Follow up with soy sauce, salt and tomato ketchup. Let it cook for 2 more minutes and take the pan off the heat. Sprinkle in a few strands of cilantro and let it cool. Do not overcook the veggies. Now take the spring roll sheets and make sure they are moist. If not sprinkle with a little water. Stuff the sheets with veggies and roll it. Seal the rolls with water or cornstarch paste. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place all the rolls on a greased pan and lightly brush oil or aquafaba on the rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls look crispy and golden. Top with chopped green onions and serve with your favorite sweet and sour sauce.