Those of you that have been following along with me these past seventeen months know that I will take any excuse to host a party. It is one of the reasons I started this blog, and its certainly the reason our Table Sharing experience began. I will take any reason to gather friends and family, to share a meal and spend quality time together, to get away from the cell phones and computers and truly live in the moment that we have created.
This time of year beckons for these carefully crafted moments. It calls for me to light candles and stoke the hearth, to pour the wine and shake up some cocktails. I want hot food and stiff drinks, familiar faces and plenty of twinkling lights. There are candles in the windows and wool socks, friends that I have spent my whole life with and so much talk of babies. These nights always start with soft music and end in roars of - slightly inebriated - laughter. I wouldn't want it any other way.
For this post, I have partnered with Sid Wainer and Son to bring you a holiday cocktail party, complete with a charcuterie spread, a few appetizers, and a mixed drink. Sid Wainer and Son is a New England based company that was started over a hundred years ago in New Bedford, Massachusetts. For over one hundred years Sid Wainer has been pioneering the farm to table mentality, growing and producing many of their products at their own Jansal Valley Farm. All of their products are results of purposefully cultivated relationships that they have grown over the last century, resulting in specialty products from around the world. I was given a few different cheddar cheeses (the mustard and ale cheddar is amazing) and some soft goat cheese, a sausage and a salami which were so versatile and delicious, as well as some dried black mission figs (I ate them all...) a cranberry honey (what!? SO good in everything – including cocktails) and a huckleberry spreadable fruit.
For this holiday cocktail party I wanted to present the beautiful cheeses, sausage, dried figs, jam and almonds in a way that was easy to snack on while also being visually appealing. Adding some fresh greenery to the table or serving platters adds a bit of holiday cheer, and using winter fruit like citrus or pears always brighten a scene. I also like to use rosemary and thyme for this time of year, not only because I cook with it a lot and never use it all, but also because it heightens the aroma of holiday cooking, and it looks so festive!
For me, arranging a cheese platter for guests really is about the presentation and the combination of foods. I like having a few different options for cheese – at least one hard cheese like a cheddar, a soft cheese like a Brie, and a strong or stinky cheese like a goats milk or Blue cheese. I always like to pair the cheeses with a fruit or cracker, jam or bread.
For the harder cheeses, I paired some sliced apples and the Domaine de Provence Original Water Crackers. With the softer cheeses I like to put out some crusty bread and a jam. Sid Wainer has a Jansal Valley Huckleberry spreadable fruit, which was amazing with the triple cream brie. I just spooned a few tablespoons of the jam right on top of the brie and warmed it in the oven (which was already at 250F) for a few minutes – just until it was warm to the touch. We spread it on some crusty raisin oat bread that I sliced into little wedges, and it was perfect!
In addition to a cheese board or charcuterie platter, I think it is nice to offer something hot or more substantial. You don't even have to buy more ingredients, you can use some of the ones you have from your cheese spread! I added some cheese and sausage to a gallette, topped some baguette with some soft goat cheese and some honey, and coated some almonds with sugar to bake until crispy. The recipes for all of those appetizers follow below.
The holiday season is in full swing, with only three weekends left until Christmas is upon us! Go ahead and take any reason to throw a cocktail party, for your family or for your friends – a dozen or just a couple. Unplug, uncork and make memories.
•Cheddar, Sausage and Fig Gallette•
one galette makes 8 pieces
• one pie crust (you only need one half of the recipe, so you can either make two portions or save one in the freezer for later use!)
• 4 oz of Kilchurn Estate Mustard and Ale Cheddar Cheese, sliced thin
• 4 oz Jansal Valley Spicy Sopressata Sausage, cut in to rounds
• 4 oz Jansal Valley Dried Black Mission Figs, chopped fine
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
• 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water, whisked together
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Roll out your pie crust until it is ¼ inch thick, trying to keep it as round as possible.
Transfer your pie dough onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Lay your pie crust flat.
Lay the cheese slices in the middle of your pie dough, spreading them out to leave about four inches from the edge. You will need this to fold over to make a crust for your gallete.
Layer the sausage over the cheese, and sprinkle the figs and thyme on top.
Fold the outer dough in towards the center, creating a crust around the cheese and sausage and figs. I like to fold mine and create a crease at each corner, almost making the galette hexagonally shaped.
Brush the outer crust with the egg yolk and water mixture, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until crust is golden and the cheese begins to bubble.
Cut like a pizza, and enjoy with a glass of bubbly!
•Sweet and Spicy Roasted Almonds•
makes about 6 cups
(I actually made these with the spicy spices and one batch without. My husband preferred the sweet ones, but I always like the spicy kick. If you have more of a sweet tooth, simply omit the pepper flakes and cayenne!)
• 16oz package of Jansal Valley Roasted Almonds
• 1 egg white
• 1 tablespoon water
• ½ cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon clove
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
• ½ teaspoon cayenne
Preheat oven to 250F
In a large bowl, whisk the egg white and the water together.
Add the almonds and stir to coat.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour out the almonds on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread out in to one flat layer.
Bake for about 45 minutes, over turning the almonds once or twice during baking. Once the almonds are no longer wet, and have begun to clump together, remove from the oven.
They may seem “sticky” or gooey at first, but once they dry they will harden up. If they still seem too wet, put them back in the oven for ten more minutes. Just be sure not to over cook them or the sugar in them will burn, and that always tastes bad.
Once cooled completely, serve in little dishes with appetizers, in salads for lunch or atop cakes for dessert.
•Apple, Goat Cheese and Thyme Crostini•
• 1 French baguette, sliced in to small rounds about ½ inch thick
• 1 Granny Smith apple, sliced thin
• 4 tablespoons Jansal Valley Cranberry Honey
• 2 tablespoons roughly chopped thyme
On each slice of baguette, spread a pat of goat cheese and top with a slice of apple. Drizzle a little bit of honey and top with a small sprinkle of thyme.
Repeat for each piece of baguette and display on a platter or bread board. These should be one or two bite appetizers, perfect for a cocktail hour or an easy appetizer!
•Grand Marnier, Prosecco and Cranberry Honey Cocktail•
• one bottle of prosecco
• 2 shots of Grand Marnier
• 2 teaspoons Jansal Valley Cranberry Honey
In a cocktail shaker, combine the Grand Marnier and the honey with a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously until they are sufficiently mixed.
Pour in to cocktail glasses, and top with prosecco. Garnish with a sprig of thyme or a citrus peel.
Thank you to Sid Wainer and Son for sponsoring this post as a part of their #sidinthekitchenholiday. They supplied all of the edibles for this post (with the exception of the produce), but of course all of the opinions are my own. And my opinion is, I am so thankful that I have leftovers!
listening to: Sleigh Ride by Johnny Mathis