This year, I am not hosting Thanksgiving but instead was asked to bring an appetizer. One would think I am getting off easy, but I actually find this to be tricky. When cooking the main show, you know who the players are: the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce… but when making appetizers for a meal where everyone is about to over eat, what do you make? Here is what I am preparing. If you are hitting up google for recipes, I swear by all the Ina Garten does.
Ina Garten’s Meatballs
1/2 pound ground veal (I don’t eat veal… so I did ½ pound more beef)
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs or whole wheat
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (whole wheat bread crumbs work as well)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.
Add meatballs to marinara sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Use Toothpicks for serving.
Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta
- 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
- 2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, ½-inch-diced
- 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
- 20 to 25 (½-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and – teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.