Festive appetizers

The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends. And any time there’s a get-together, it’s always better with food. Bring these appetizers to your next holiday shindig, and they’ll be the hit of the party.

The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends. And any time there’s a get-together, it’s always better with food. Bring these appetizers to your next holiday shindig, and they’ll be the hit of the party.

I tried my hand at the Yukon and Yam Croquettes recipe. Overall, it was easy to make, and it didn’t take too long to prep and cook. I had to cook them an extra four minutes to get the right texture.

Since I didn’t have cranberry sauce on hand, I dipped them in honey mustard and ketchup. I really enjoyed them with honey mustard. I’d like to try them again with only sweet potatoes, as those are my favorite.

Yukon and Yam Croquettes

These two-bite croquettes can serve as hors d’oeuvres, with cranberry sauce for dipping, or as a side dish.

SERVINGS: 8 -12

INGREDIENTS
8 Yukon Gold or yellow-fleshed potatoes
Salt
4 or 5 medium sweet potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, sesame oil or olive oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Peel the Yukon Gold or yellow-fleshed potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks to yield 6 to 8 cups. Place in a medium pot and cover with water by no more than 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add a generous pinch of salt. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or just until tender. Remove from the heat, but do not drain.

2. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks to yield 6 to 8 cups. Place in a large skillet or pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and a generous pinch of salt, and toss to coat. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or a silicone liner.

4. Drain the cooked Yukon Gold or yellow-fleshed potatoes, then add to the cooked sweet potatoes in the bowl. Season with pepper to taste, then use a potato masher to blend them; the mixture should be soft yet slightly chunky. (Do not mix in a food processor; that will make the potatoes gummy.)

5. Use a 1/4-cup measure to scoop portions of the potato mixture, shaping each one into a 1 1/2-inch ball and placing the balls on the baking sheet close together as you go.

6. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the soy sauce in a small jar or container with a tight-fitting lid; shake well, then use a pastry brush to coat the tops and sides of each croquette with the mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the croquettes are slightly puffy and crisped on top (yet still soft inside).

7. Serve warm.

RECIPE SOURCE:
From Juliette Tahar of Healthy Living Inc. (www.healthylivinginc.org), a nonprofit educational organization based in Georgetown. Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

Fig Spread, Gorgonzola and Arugula Crostini

This crostini is all about contrasts. The toast is crunchy, the fig spread sweet and jammy, the cheese smooth and piquant and the arugula peppery. Fig spread is available at Whole Foods Markets.

Make Ahead: Toast the baguette and set aside at room temperature for up to several hours. Assemble just prior to serving.

SERVINGS: 24 CROSTINI

INGREDIENTS
1/2 large baguette, sliced into about twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup fig spread or fig preservers (see headnote)
24 baby arugula leaves, torn into pieces
5 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Spread each slice of bread with 1 teaspoon of the fig spread. Top with 1 or 2 arugula leaves, then sprinkle with crumbled cheese, about 1 teaspoonful per toast.

RECIPE SOURCE:
Adapted from food stylist and writer Lisa Cherkasky. Tested by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post.

Olives with Citrus Zests and Fried Herbs

You’ll be happy to have these on hand when folks drop by for cocktails or a glass of wine.
Make Ahead: The mixture can be refrigerated (without the garlic) for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

SERVINGS: Tested size: 12 servings; makes 3 cups

INGREDIENTS
1 orange
1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
20 sage leaves
20 rosemary leaves
1 small clove garlic (unpeeled)
1 pound mixed olives, such as black Niçoise and green Castelvetrano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS
1. Use a vegetable peeler to cut 5 or 6 wide strips of zest (total) from the orange and lemon.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, sage, rosemary and garlic; cook for about 20 seconds or until the herbs stop sizzling. Turn off the heat.
3. Stir in the olives, citrus zests and the crushed red pepper flakes, then transfer to a deep bowl. Use a Microplane grater to grate the remaining zest from the orange and lemon directly into the bowl. Stir to incorporate.
4. Serve warm. Or cool, discard the garlic, cover and refrigerate.

RECIPE SOURCE:
Adapted from “A Recipe for Cooking,” by Cal Peternell (William Morrow, 2016). Tested by Sandhya Babu for The Washington Post.