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Kick off your holiday party with festive appetizers Add to ...

Originally published November 24, 2010.

1. WHITE KIDNEY BEAN AND ROASTED GARLIC BRUSCHETTA

Ingredients

1 can white kidney beans

1 garlic bulb

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 sourdough baguette

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Wrap garlic in foil, drizzle with olive oil and roast until tender. Set aside to cool. Drain and rinse beans. Once garlic is cooled, squeeze out garlic from skin into a food processor and add beans, zest and juice of the lemon and remaining ingredients. Pulse until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice baguette into thin slices and arrange on cookie sheet. Put in a 350 F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes or until all slices are crispy. Remove and top with bean mixture.

Makes 12 to 15 servings.

2. SPICY CRAB BALLS

Ingredients

2 cans cooked crab meat

4 scallions, finely chopped

4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

2 green chiles, seeded and minced

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or to taste

2 egg whites, beaten

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

1 bunch of watercress

2 limes

Method

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy. Strain crab meat, discard the water and check meat for shells. In a larger bowl, combine crab meat and remaining ingredients. Add egg whites to mixture and gently stir until combined. Form into 1/2-inch-round balls. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and ensure there’s enough oil to cover balls. Deep fry four to five balls at once until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Garnish platter with watercress and lime wedges. Makes 15 to 20 balls.

3. SCALLOPS WITH HERB AND PINE NUT BUTTER

Ingredients

12 large fresh sea scallops

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup pine nuts

3/4 cup softened unsalted butter

2 shallots, finely sliced

3 endives

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F and roast pine nuts until golden brown. In a food processor, combine herbs, roasted pine nuts and garlic with 1/2 cup butter and pulse. Scrape mixture onto plastic wrap and roll into a small log about 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate until hardened. In a non-stick sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon butter and shallots and caramelize until golden and slightly crispy. Cover and set aside. Lay fresh scallops out on a baking sheet and pat down with paper towel to remove excess water. Heat a non-stick sauté pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon butter and sear scallops until golden brown on each side. Peel off 12 endive leaves and place 1 scallop on each. Top with a thin slice of herb butter and garnish with shallots. Serve hot. Makes 6 to 12 servings.

Wine pairings

A basic Italian white, such as Soave, pinot grigio or verdicchio, would work best with the bruschettas. A crisp Italian red, such as a bardolino or barbera, also would work. But the choice need not be Italian. I’d be tempted to choose an Australian semillon, an underrated dry white with an oily texture and tangy, honeyed flavours.

Often neglected as a match for food, dry sparkling wine, such as affordable cava from Spain or more expensive Champagne, will match nicely with the crab balls. If you prefer a still wine, go for a crisp white, such as sauvignon blanc, a muscadet from France or a lean, lemony Italian white such as pinot grigio.

The scallops, finally, would go nicely with a sauvignon blanc, particularly an exuberant, grassy-tropical style from New Zealand. Dry riesling, especially from Australia but also from Canada, is another good option, as is pinot gris. If you prefer red, look for a crisp gamay or dolcetto d’Alba, the latter from Italy.

And if you want one wine to bridge all of the appetizers, sauvignon blanc should do the trick.

Beppi Crosariol

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