Planning to entertain family and friends during the holidays? Bring some local flair to your appetizer buffet or pre-dinner nibbles.
Even at year’s end, there’s a remarkable bounty of locally grown and produced food that we can make a delicious part of our celebrations. I love keeping things simple and fresh: a bowl of toasted nuts, some cheeses and charcuterie, maybe a board of vegetable-topped flatbreads. Support your local farmers, artisans and small gourmet food markets as you’re gathering your ingredients for entertaining, and consider these easy “locavore” party ideas:
1. Charcuterie plate
Newly opened Panino on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine specializes in salumi—Italian-style cured meats. Chef Nino Loreto sources free-range heirloom pigs from area farms and creates soppressata, salami, pepperoni, coppa and other specialties. On a large wooden cutting board, arrange an assortment of Panino’s charcuterie, along with sliced local apple, Ohio black walnuts and honey from your neighborhood farmers market.
2. Baked Brie with local honey
Here’s a terrific recipe from Bee Haven Honey, shared in The Findlay Market Cookbook:
- Warm 1 cup of local honey in the top of a double boiler to 160°.
- Add 2 sprigs of rosemary and keep warm at 160° for 15 minutes to infuse the honey with flavor.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place a wedge of Brie cheese (about 1 pound) on a baking sheet and drizzle with about 4 tablespoons of infused honey.
- Bake for 5–7 minutes until soft, but not melted.
- Serve with toasted Blue Oven Bakery baguette rounds.
3. Grilled sausage with mustard
Here’s an easy recipe for a delicious appetizer that’s sure to impress:
- Grill an array of flavored chicken sausage. (I love the varieties at Kroeger & Sons at Findlay Market, or you can find good Italian sausage from your favorite local farmer/butcher.)
- Slice and arrange on a platter with a dish of spicy mustard for dipping.
4. Local vegetable flatbreads
Make a variety of flatbreads, perfect for sharing:
- Divide 1 ball of prepared pizza dough into 2-ounce portions, and roll into oblong shapes.
- Par-bake in a hot (475°) oven for about 7 minutes.
- Top flatbreads with any of the following ideas, or get creative on your own, then bake an additional 10–15 minutes until flatbreads are crispy and brown:
- Steamed diced butternut squash, chopped sage and ricotta cheese
- Sliced apple and sharp cheddar
- Steamed broccoli florets, pesto and Fontina cheese
5. Buttered nuts
I always buy fresh nuts of all kinds at Dean’s Mediterranean Imports at Findlay Market.
- Start with 2 cups of raw whole nuts. (I like cashews and blanched almonds.)
- Toss with 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter.
- Bake at 325° for 10 minutes until lightly toasted.
- Sprinkle generously with good sea salt.
6. Chocolate, chocolate.
We’re fortunate to have wonderful local artisan chocolatiers, including Maverick Chocolate and Chocolats Latour (and of course, Graeter’s and Aglamesis have been making chocolate for generations). An assortment of locally made chocolates with a glass of red wine or cup of coffee makes a lovely finish to any gathering.