Perfect party appetizers from local chefs and restaurants.
Story By Bailey Gilliam
There is nothing like a good holiday appetizer to set the mood and kick things off to an epic Christmas dinner. Skip the store-bought tub-o-hummus in favor of these sophisticated and mouth-watering appetizers from local chefs and restaurants.
Get your claws into it
Serve up some local crab and impress your out-of-town guests this year with this Lowcountry-inspired app from Rafael Diaz, sous chef at Poseidon Coastal Cuisine.
Poseidon Coastal Cuisine
Creamy Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
16 ounces baby bella mushrooms
4 ounces cream cheese
5 ounces crab claw meat
2 1/2 ounces mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 ounce red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 ounce chopped parsley
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
1 ounce Ritz crackers, crushed
Directions  Heat oven to 375.  Remove the stems from the mushrooms and cut the tops to make them flat; reserve the stems and top cuts for another use. Place the mushrooms, cap side up, onto a baking sheet. Roast until the mushrooms are mostly tender and release liquid, about 12-15 minutes.  In a bowl, stir together the cream cheese, claw meat, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, peppers, mozzarella and parsley.  Stir the Ritz crackers and the Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Set aside.  Stuff each mushroom with the crab mix, sprinkle the cracker mix on top and place onto a baking sheet. Bake until the crackers are golden brown and the crab filling is hot and melted, 8-10 minutes.  Garnish with chopped parsley and paprika, and serve immediately.
A cheese ball is a staple for gatherings here in the South. Take your cheese ball up a notch with this recipe from Madison Fleener, sous chef at Nectar Farm Kitchen Bluffton.
Nectar Farm Kitchen
Holiday Cheese Ball
16 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 sprig mint chiffonade
5 ounces dried cranberries, finely chopped, divided
2 ounces candied pecans, finely chopped
Directions  Place cream cheese, goat cheese, honey, salt, half of the mint and 3 ounces of the dried cranberries in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until fully incorporated.  With plastic wrap, lightly spray with nonstick spray, place cheese mix on the wrap and form into a ball shape; place in the freezer for 10 minutes to set up.  In a separate bowl, place the rest of the mint, cranberries and pecans. Remove cheese from the freezer and place in a bowl, and crust the ball with the nut and cranberry mix until fully covered. Wrap the ball again and let it set up in the fridge until serving.  Serve with fresh fruit, crackers and toast points.
Bundles of joy
Everything is better wrapped in prosciutto – even asparagus. Cassandra’s Kitchen shared Ina Garten’s easy and delicious recipe for asparagus and prosciutto bundles, guaranteed to please even the pickiest of guests.
Asparagus & Prosciutto Bundles
2 pounds medium-sized asparagus, bottom thirds discarded
6 slices of Italian prosciutto
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons white truffle butter
Fleur De Sel and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
Directions  Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil. If the asparagus are thick, peel them halfway up the stalk with a vegetable peeler. Immerse the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and put them immediately into a large bowl of ice water to set the bright green color. Allow to chill for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and pat the asparagus dry.
 Gather 6 to 8 asparagus spears into a bundle with the tips together, and wrap a slice of prosciutto securely around the middle. Repeat to make 6 bundles. Brush a rectangular baking dish (large enough to hold the bundles in one layer) with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Place the bundles seam side down in the baking dish, arranged side by side, with the tips facing the same way. In a small saucepan, heat the truffle butter and 1½ tablespoons of olive oil until the butter melts. Drizzle it over the bundles. Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon fleur de sel, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the Gruyère and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the butter is sizzling and the cheese melts and starts to brown. Serve hot.
Love your liver
Bring home the bacon this Christmas with this bacon-wrapped chicken liver recipe from Matt Fedun, executive sous chef of Frankie Bones Hilton Head. Be a liver, not a hater.
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Livers with Blueberry Gastrique
Ingredients (chicken livers)
1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and deveined
15 slices applewood smoked bacon, sliced in half lengthwise
15 green olives, halved
1 pint yellow mustard
3 quarts Italian breadcrumbs
Directions  Wrap bacon halves around individual livers and olives. Skewer each with a toothpick, making sure to hit the olive.  Dredge lightly in yellow mustard, then heavily in Italian breadcrumbs, shaking off excess.  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees until crisp. Serve immediately.
Ingredients (blueberry gastrique)
1 quart frozen blueberries
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 pint white vinegar
Directions  In a small saucepan, cook blueberries, lemon juice and sugar until thick and jam-like.  Add vinegar, stirring vigorously, and reduce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.