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Dec 13, 2017 1:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Secretly Healthy Canapés For A Holiday Cocktail Party

Dec 13, 2017 1:29 PM

Throw a festive holiday cocktail party with secretly healthy canapés—the guests will never know.

To start the party, serve this refreshing aperitif cocktail designed by Haroun Khalek, the manager/bartender of Alice’s Arbor an American Restaurant in Brooklyn. I was invited to join a colleague to sample their menu. Mr. Khalek brought us two coup-stemmed glasses of his “aperitif” after we were seated. It was pleasingly different and delicious but stimulating enough to whet our appetite for the American fare that followed.

Holiday nibbles on skewers involves no cooking, only assembly. Think “bite-sized cubes” of ingredients that complement each other. For example: gruyere cheese, roast beef and a cornichon (drizzle a little horseradish cream on the beef); pitted green olive, feta, toasted sourdough bread cube smeared with pesto; or cube of garlic salami (with a little mustard), cucumber and sweet gherkin.

Smoked salmon canapés are updated with wasabi-flavored avocado “cream” and caviar that’s very tasty indeed.

These creamy butternut squash stuffed mushrooms are so popular you may want to double the recipe.

And finally, for the vegetable lovers, make these amazing crispy Brussels sprouts with miso dip; you won’t need to add a platter of crudité.

Have a joyous holiday season and a prosperous new year! Bon appétit!

Alice’s Arbor Aperitif(Serves 2)1 shot of your favorite vodka

1 shot of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Splash of simple syrup, or more to taste

1 bottle of your favorite Prosecco, very cold

2 thin slices of lemon peel

Stemmed coupe glassesTo prepare:Pour vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup over ice and shake.

Strain and divide between two stemmed coup champagne glasses and pour Prosecco to fill the glass. Float a lemon peel on top and serve at once.Smoked Salmon Canapes, Circa 2017(About 3 dozen)1/2 ripe Haas avocado

1/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt

1/4 cup avocado oil mayonnaise

1 teaspoon prepared wasabi

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 long English cucumber, washed

4 ounces wild smoked salmon cut into 1-and-1/2- to 2-inch strips

1/4 cup microgreens such as mini watercress for garnish

About 2 tablespoons sturgeon Caviar (black)To prepare:Working in a food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade, add the avocado, yogurt, mayonnaise, wasabi, lime juice, salt and process until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Transfer the mixture to a large zip-lock bag. Snip off one corner to make a 1/4-inch hole. Or transfer to piping bag fitted with a small tip.

With a table fork, score the rind of the cucumber and cut it diagonally into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Pipe a pea-size amount of the avocado cream on top of the cucumber slice. Place a slice of salmon on top of avocado cream; pipe a dollop of avocado cream on top of salmon.

Garnish with microgreens and caviar.Creamy 
Butternut Squash-Stuffed Mushrooms(About 2 dozen canapés)About 2 cups (10 ounces) chopped butternut squash

About 2 and 1/2 tablespoons grape seed oil

1 ounce soft Chevre (goat cheese)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste

1/2 cup whole-wheat panko

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or more to taste

24, one-and-one-half-inch-wide cremini mushrooms, washed, stems removed and reserved for stockTo prepare:Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place squash on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and toss with oil until it glistens. Bake until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove squash.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet.

Combine squash, goat cheese, butter, pepper and a pinch or two of salt in the food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

In a small bowl, combine panko, thyme with about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons oil, and salt. Mix together, taste, and adjust the seasonings.

Spoon about 2 teaspoons of squash mixture into the center of each mushroom cap. Press about 1 teaspoon of panko mixture into the squash.

Place mushrooms in a single layer on a rack on a baking sheets. Bake until the panko is toasted, about 15 minutes.Crispy Brussels Sprouts With Miso Dressing(Serves about 15)3 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed, halved and centers scooped out

2 tablespoons grape seed oil

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons avocado mayonnaise

1 and 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon white miso

About 1 tablespoon honey

About 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or more to tasteTo prepare:Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

With a rack in the upper third of the oven, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and using a melon baller carefully remove the inner leaves to form a scoop shape (reserve the inner leaves for another use.) Trim the excess stem end on the bottom.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with oil, season with salt and pepper, and scatter over the baking sheet. Bake until crisp and browned, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, miso, honey, and soy sauce in a small bowl until completely blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings. To serve, arrange Brussels sprout halves on a serving platter with a bowl of the miso dressing in the center. Guests dip the sprouts into the dressing.

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