Monday, November 16, 2009

Seaon's Eatings: Easy Apps.

Ok, so it's time for us to kiss and make up again. I have to be honest, I recently invested in a new relationship with the gym and a personal trainer. I do have to say, it's nice to have a new man in my life. Unfortunately, our dates consist of him laughing at me while I lift heavy things over and over again, but even with that being said, it wouldn't be the worst relationship I've ever been in. At least I can fit in more of my fall/winter suits again. I also have to admit, when I started this Trieste with blogging, I was overly inspired by "Julie and Julia" and thought I would kick it off at a feverish pace and stay up every night and burn the midnight oil to share some new design secret from the South. However, I've also realized, I'm no Carrie Bradshaw (I guess my blog would have to be called "No Sex in the City.") This has also been one of my busiest seasons at the University. To put it in perspective, if I were an accountant, I would have just finished tax season. Either way, it's nice to be back.

So, the holidays are about to be upon us. Here in Cville, we'll be celebrating with the Grand Illumination of the downtown Christmas tree on Friday, officially kicking off the holiday season, and officially making it a little more socially acceptable for me to listen to Christmas music at the gym, already. However, we can't forget Thanksgiving. I feel like we all have our own turkey glazes, pumpkin pie recipes, 100 ways to make stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. I don't know about you all, but in my family, you have to get through Thanksgiving cocktail hour before Thanksgiving dinner. And let's just put it this way, sometimes that hour lasts a few hours, especially when the perfect dinner isn't right on schedule. So, you have to give the people a little nosh while they slosh. I feel like people spend all day fasting in anticipation of stuffing their faces at dinner. However, I think you need a little nibble to get things going and to keep yourself from gorging. So, from my table to yours, a few quick, super easy, seasonal appetizers for your holiday.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Crostini
I don't even know if I can call this a recipe, because the name of the dish lists all 3 ingredients and the finished product in it.
1 french baguette
1 small package of goat cheese (plain, not herb-infused, etc)
1 package of dried cranberries (organic, if you can)

Ok, this couldn't be easier. Slice the baguette on the diagonal to make the crostini. Lay the sliced baguette pieces on a cookie sheet. Place the slices in the oven on 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until they start to brown/crisp up/dry out. Remove the crostini from the oven and allow them to cool. Once cooled, spread the softened goat cheese (about one tablespoon) on each piece of crostini (let the goat cheese reach room temperature, it will spread a lot easier and won't crumble so much). Then top the crostini with a small handful (5-7) of the dried cranberries. And guess what, you're done? They're so good, seasonally appropriate, and beyond simple. It's a great combination of sweet and savory, and your guests will love them with a glass of Prosecco or a nice Riesling. A perfect combination of savory and sweet. Don't try to make it perfect, it's meant to be rustic. If you're feeling really saucy that day, feel free to garnish with some walnuts for an additional texture/crunch.

Easy, Baked Brie en Croute.
1 wedge or wheel or Brie (double creme)
1 package of Pillsbury or store brand Crescent rolls
1 package of pecans
1 package of water crackers or your favorite mild cracker
2 Granny Smith Apples
1 small jar of apricot or raspberry preserves/compote

Ok, this is beyond easy. Take the package of crescent rolls (you may want 2 packages depending on how big the wheel or wedge of brie is). Lay all of the dough triangles on a cutting board and pinch them together to make one big piece of dough. Be sure to pinch all of the edges together well. Lay the Brie in the middle of the dough and begin to wrap it like a present. Pull all of the sides together and pull the dough until the brie is entirely covered. Using your clean hands, make sure the Brie is totally covered and that there are no holes (if there are any holes, the cheese will ooze out). If you have any extra dough left, feel free to use your favorite cookie cutter to put a decorative shape on top of your baked brie. You could do a monogram, a holiday shape, or if you're me, you could do the Commonwealth of Virginia. Yes, I have a cookie cutter in the shape of Virginia. Don't judge.

Place the Brie on a greased cookie sheet or cake pan in the oven at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or just until the crust is golden brown. Once the Brie is nice and golden brown on the outside, all melty goodness on the inside, serve it on a platter with the water crackers, pecans, slices of Granny Smith apples, and apricot preserves/compote. (You can place the preserves/compote on the wedge of brie before you cover it with the crescent dough and bake it. When you do this, the preserves heat up and bake inside with the cheese. However, I just serve it on the side so those who don't like the preserves and just want the cheese, apples, etc. they don't have to have it.) Just leave it all with a spreader for the preserves and a knife for your friends and guests to slice into the Brie. Bread? Cheese? Apples? Can you go wrong? The best part, Granny Smith apples are in season right now.

These apps. are so easy and sure to please all of your guests. While they're seasonal, they're great anytime and perfect for an engagement party, happy hour, dinner party, or any gathering of friends. When you make things stress free and easier for yourself, you have more time to enjoy the holiday and your guests. So this time, skip the Green Bean Casserole with the friend onion rings, and volunteer to bring some appetizers to Thanksgiving dinner. Throw in a bottle of Prosecco, or hell, even better, get a bottle of Cranberry juice to mix with the Prosecco, and you're so beyond in business. Folks will forget all about the bird when they get down on these appetizers.

Season's Eatings, y'all.



  1. Welcome back. Enjoyed the post. I make the brie thing with Havarti and serve with champagne mustard. Who doesn't like bread, cheese and apples? You were missed!

  2. Hey, Chuck.
    Great to have you back. Missed you like a front tooth.

  3. so glad you're back in my life. check out this post on Thanksgiving cocktails that will also be sure to liven up Turkey Day.

    You know I'm all over that Rock Gobbler.

  4. Ed- The brie recipe is also really great with a little brown sugar on the inside and outside of the dough.

    Thanks for posting... your blog is great!

    -Amy (Burge) Moynihan

  5. Ed -
    now that your busy season is over - come visit!!