A fresh take on the Thanksgiving appetizer
For the last few years my husband and I have hosted between 25 and 30 people at our home for Thanksgiving, and one of my favorite parts of this tradition is the appetizers.
Our Thanksgiving menu is mostly traditional. I try to mix it up a bit each year, adding a new twist to the stuffing or the vegetable sides and offering at least one non-traditional dessert… but, I find that most of our family and friends look forward to a day devoted to consuming as much comfort food as they can handle. Me too. I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
The appetizers, however, are a different story. I feel no traditional obligations to the pre-game plan. My only requirements for Thanksgiving appetizers are these:
- They must be finger food
- They should be Thanksgiving-worthy delicious, but not too heavy
- Most, if not all, preparation must be done in advance
These Spanish Avocado Salmon Bites fit all three of my Thanksgiving appetizer requirements. The crackers, garlic mayo and chimichurri sauce can be made up to three days in advance. After that it’s just about assembly, which can be done a few hours before your guests arrive. Set the salmon bites out on small trays placed around conversation areas so that guests can pick one up at their leisure and pop it in their mouth, no plate or fork required. Rebecca Blackwell is baker and blogger at OfBatterAndDough.com
Spanish Avocado Salmon Bites
These super simple appetizers are really just about assembling little stacks of high quality flavor-packed ingredients into bite-sized packages. The base of each bite is a cracker, which can be homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought.
- 48 cheddar cheese flavored crackers
- 1 cup mayonnaise mixed with 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 avocados, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch thick slices, each the length of the crackers. Sprinkle slices with salt.
- 12 oz smoked salmon (I used Chipotle Lime Honey Smoked Salmon, but any brand that sounds good to you will work)
- Chimichurri sauce
- In a food processor, blend the following until combined: ½ cup each packed fresh Italian parsley and cilantro, ¼ cup each olive oil and red wine vinegar, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp crushed red pepper, ½ tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp salt
- Lay a cracker on a work surface or platter. Top with a dollop garlic mayo. Lay a slice or two of avocado over the garlic mayo. Top avocado with ½ oz smoked salmon and drizzle with about 1 tsp chimichurri sauce. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Homemade Chili Cheddar Crackers
- 8 oz. (1½ cups) unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground ancho (or any flavor) powder
- 8 oz. grated sharp cheddar (approximately 3½ cups of cheese)
- 8 oz. (2 sticks or 1 cup) of butter, cut into cubes
- 2 tsp cold water
- Add the flour, sugar, salt, black pepper and chili powder to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse a couple of times to combine all ingredients.
- Add the cheese and pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add butter, all at once, and pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle the water over the mixture and pulse 2-3 times to incorporate.
- Dump the dough – which will be loose and crumbly – into a large bowl or onto a clean work surface. Press dough together and knead with your hands to bring the dough together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 day.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle some flour across a clean work surface. Remove dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and lay it on the work surface. Dust the top with additional flour. Roll the dough into a thin sheet, approximately ⅛ inch thick. (NOTE: You may have to let the dough soften on the counter for a few minutes so butter can soften before rolling out.)
- Run a spatula underneath the dough from all sides to loosen any dough that’s stuck to the work surface. Cut out the crackers with a small biscuit cutter or shot glass. Lay them on the baking sheets very close together, but not touching. (You can also cut crackers into squares with a knife or pastry wheel.)
- Cover both pans and refrigerate at least 2 hours, up to one day.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes, until the crackers’ edges are starting to brown.
- Remove from oven onto a wire rack and allow crackers to cool completely on the sheet. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.