Tis the season for easy-to-make dishes for entertaining, or for hanging out and watching Christmas movies. It’s also the season for indulging in dishes that you normally wouldn’t — dishes made with either seasonal, expensive or high-fat high-calorie ingredients.
I once made a huge Christmas Eve feast that started with Oysters Rockefeller and went on to shrimp, squid and more. Instead of shucking a few dozen oysters, you might want to try these two starters instead. I’ve been making them for years, they’re tried and true.
Chunky Clam and Bacon Dip
- 1/4 pound bacon (about 8 slices), chopped
- two 6 1/2-oz cans minced clams
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 3 scallions, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp drained bottled horseradish, or more if you’d like
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco to taste
- Pita Toasts or potato chips
In a skillet cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
In a large sieve set over a bowl drain clams, reserving clam juice, and in another bowl whisk together cream cheese and sour cream. Whisk 2 Tbsp reserved clam juice into cream cheese mixture with clams, bacon, and remaining ingredients.
Dip may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring dip to room temperature before serving. Makes 2 cups. Serve dip with toasts or chips.
Original recipe: Chunky Clam and Bacon Dip, Gourmet, June 1997
Creamy Shrimp Crostini
- 40 1/2-inch-thick diagonal baguette slices
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, coarsely chopped – buy American only, don’t support Asian slave labor!
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil/butter mix
- 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup minced green onions
- 1-1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 tsp grated lemon peel
- Chopped fresh parsley
Preheat broiler. Lightly brush 1 side of each baguette slice with oil. Arrange on 2 baking sheets. Broil until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Sauté shrimp and garlic in butter/oil until shrimp is cooked and garlic is golden. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise and mustard in large bowl to blend. Mix in shrimp, garlic, green onions, dill and lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Store toasts in airtight container at room temperature. Cover shrimp mixture and chill.
Spread 1 Tbsp shrimp mixture atop each toast. Arrange crostini on baking sheets; broil until shrimp mixture begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Top with parsley.
Original recipe: Creamy Shrimp Crostini, Bon Appétit, January 1998