All those Christmas decorations, and holiday commercials are great indication we're literally rushing into the season. Before you know it, we'll be singing carols and planning menus.
Here's a selection of awesome entertaining ideas, courtesy of Ontario Goat Cheese, to put high up on your party list. (Ontariogoatcheese.ca.)
BACON AND GOAT FETA STUFFED MUSHROOMS
The salty tanginess of goat feta and subtle sweetness of the shallots pairs perfectly with the smoky bacon and earthy mushroom flavours. Even though this recipe makes three dozen, these amazing appetizers won’t last long.
36 cremini mushrooms
1 cup (250 ml) chopped bacon
1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) finely chopped thyme
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) crumbled goat feta cheese
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Remove stems from mushroom caps. Arrange mushrooms, cap side down on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
In skillet, cook bacon over medium high until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to bowl. Discard all but 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) of fat.
Add shallots, to pan and cook until tender and golden. Add garlic and thyme, cook one minute. Scrape into bowl with bacon and let cool. Stir in goat cheese.
Spoon mixture into prepared mushroom caps. Bake until mushrooms are golden on the bottom and filling is hot, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Makes 36 pieces.
PECAN CHEVRE BITES
This simple appetizer is infused with balsamic syrup and herbs and rolled in chopped toasted pecans. Though it has a richness reminiscent of a truffle, it’s a much healthier option.
6 oz (168 g) chevre goat cheese
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) balsamic syrup*
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) minced parsley
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped toasted pecans
In bowl, cream together goat cheese, syrup, parsley and lemon zest.
Using 2 teaspoons shape into balls. Place pecans in shallow dish and roll cheese, pressing gently to coat cheese in nuts.
Makes about 16 pieces.
* Balsamic syrup can be found at most groceries stores, but you can make your own by bringing 1 cup (250 ml) good quality balsamic vinegar to boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until vinegar reduces to a thick syrup-like consistency, about 20 minutes.
GOAT CHEDDAR CHEESE SHORTBREAD
This savoury shortbread with the mild, earthy tang of goat cheddar is great as an accompaniment to a meal or as an appetizer. Recipe variations are provided below – from adding an extra kick with the flavourful heat of jalapeno to a little buttery sweetness with the addition of finely chopped pecans.
1 cup (250 ml) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) finely grated goat cheddar
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) cayenne
Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In bowl, blend butter with goat cheese cheddar. Stir in flour, thyme and cayenne until well combined. Roll into tablespoonful balls. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Transfer to baking tray placing about 1-inch (2.5cm) apart. Flatten slightly with bottom of a glass and prick with fork (garnish with thyme leaves if desired). Bake in preheated oven until shortbread cookies are set and bottoms are golden, about 20 minutes.
Makes about 36 cookies.
- Substitute the same amount of chevre for the goat cheddar cheese
- Jalapeno Cheddar: Add 1/4 cup (50 ml) finely chopped jalapeno
- Pecan Cheddar: Replace 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the flour with an equal amount of finely chopped toasted pecans
- Cheddar Rosemary: Replace the thyme with an equal amount of finely chopped fresh rosemary.