There are so many entertaining ideas out there and it’s our job to choose the ones that spark our interest, when creating our holiday entertaining menus.  What usually gives you that spark is the visual presentation, something that is beautifully presented, and then the ability to execute the idea, easily.  I have created four put-together appetizers using very common ingredients and I have presented them in a way that makes them new and exciting again.  The best part about these recipes is that they are incredibly easy to prepare and make for an impressive presentation.
This holiday season, create some show stopping appetizers using these simple and easy recipes:

  • Antipasto Cups with Edible flowers
  • Cucumber Bowls With Fish Salad Ceviche
  • Treviso Radicchio and Beligian endive with Pear and Gorgonzola
  • Ricotta Gnocchi Cups with Marinara Sauce

I hope you find inspiration in these simple recipes.  Happy entertaining!
With Love,
Julie
Antipasto Cups

Antipasto Cups with Edible flowers
 
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Antipasto never looked so pretty as it does presented in a glass with beautiful edible flowers. There are a lot of variations available so you can make this antipasto cup your own by using your favourite charcuterie, cheeses, olives and picked vegetables..
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250 mL) mixed olives
  • 1 small jar (340-375 mL) marinated artichokes hearts
  • 1 small jar (340-375 mL) pickled mushrooms*
  • 1 small container mixed grilled vegetables*
  • 8 slices low-sodium deli roasted turkey
  • 6 oz (175 g) light provolone cheese, cut into cubes
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 8 edible flowers
Instructions
  1. Divide ingredients evenly among 8 tumbler glasses, filling in the gaps to create a pretty presentation. Garnish with edible flowers. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  2. *Change up these cups with pickled asparagus or beans and add some grilled fruit, such as pear, pineapple of fig. You could also add nuts or dried fruit for more interest.

Cucumber bowls with Ceviche
Cucumber Bowls With Fish Salad Ceviche
 
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Ceviche gets a fun twist served in a cucumber bowl. Top it with fresh herbs, like dill, and a sliver of spicy pepper.
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • ½ to ¾ cup (125 mL-175 mL) prepared marinated fish salad (squid, octopus, shrimp), finely chopped
  • Fresh red chili peppers, sliced
  • Fresh dill
Instructions
  1. Cut the cucumber into 2-inch slices. Using a small spoon, core out the seeds in the centre of each cucumber slice about halfway down to create a mini bowl. Fill it with chopped fish salad. Top with a slice of chili pepper and a sprig of fresh dill. Chill until ready to serve.

Treviso Radicchio and Endive cups
Treviso Radicchio and Beligian endive with Pear and Gorgonzola
 
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A classic salad combination is made into an appetizer and served in a leaf of endive or radicchio, making it easy for your guests to eat it using their hands.
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 head Treviso radicchio lettuce
  • 1 head Belgium endive lettuce
  • 1 ripe pear, sliced thinly
  • 1 small wedge gorgonzola cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • Roasted walnuts, chopped
  • Balsamic glaze
Instructions
  1. Trim, wash and completely dry lettuce leaves. Overlap Treviso radicchio on top of Belgium endive leaves. Nestle pear slices onto each cupped lettuce leaf. Top with gorgonzola and walnuts. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.

Ricotta Gnocchi Cups
Ricotta Gnocchi Cups with Marinara Sauce
 
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Classic ricotta gnocchi are always a crowd favourite. Prepare the gnocchi while your guests are coming in, or the night before. The gnocchi take no time at all to cook and are best served fresh, so cook them closer to your guests arrival.
Author:
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) traditional ricotta
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • ⅔ cup (150 ml) Tipo oo flour, plus additional for dusting
  • ½ tbsp (7 mL) salt
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar (1L) Lady York marinara sauce
  • 1 tub (340 g) fresh burrata or mozzarella ball or ¼ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
Instructions
  1. Drain the water from the ricotta using a cheesecloth. Add ricotta to a large bowl, press down on the centre of the mound to form a well. Add egg and egg yolk, and gently mix the eggs into the ricotta with your hands. Sift the flour over the mixture; add salt and pepper and gently mix together. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch. Incorporate more flour if it feels wet and sticky.
  2. Flour a clean work surface and take about a handful at a time of the dough and roll it into a log about ¾ -inch wide. Flour a knife and trim the end of the log. Cut the roll into equal pieces, about 1 inch in length and transfer the cut gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi, and stir very gently to prevent them from sticking. As they float to the surface of the water (about 2 minutes) remove them with a slotted spoon to a lightly greased baking sheet to cool.
  4. In a large skillet, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer. Add gnocchi and stir gently to coat. Divide the coated gnocchi evenly among 10-12 martini glasses. Tear the burrata into bite-sized pieces and divide them among glasses (or alternatively sprinkle with grated Parmigiano). Garnish each plate with torn basil.

Food Styling:  Julie Miguel
Photography: Michael Rao

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