Thanksgiving Prep Starts Now


“Wait a second, Halloween just ended!” you’re thinking. “Thanksgiving already?”

Yes indeed. After all, there is much to consider, so you might as well get a head start.

Let’s begin with hors d’oeuvres—a catch-22 for hosts everywhere. Guests really don’t want to consume much before a feast, yet a little something-to-tide-you-over is perfect with an apéritif, or two, while placing the final touches on dinner and waiting for everyone to arrive.

Sesame coins are like a savory shortbread—they melt in your mouth. To spice them up, add smoked paprika and/or cayenne, according to personal preference. Spiced nuts are back in favor as cocktail fare. Adding Parmesan cheese to the herb mixture before roasting the blanched and unblanched almonds puts these cocktail snacks in a category by themselves. You’ll want to double the batch of them because they disappear so quickly. And if you like Greek salad, you’ll love this clever way to pass it on a skewer.

Bon appétit!

Sesame Coins(About 3 dozen coins)1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, cold

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or chili powder

Kosher salt, for sprinklingTo prepare;Mix flour, salt and pepper (plus spices, if using) in a food processor.

Add chunks of butter.

Pulse, until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.

Whisk together egg yolk and the mustard, until blended.

Drizzle over the flour.

Pulse, until the dough begins to clump together.

Add sesame seeds.

Pulse two or three times more, until barely mixed.

Transfer the crumbs to a clean, waxed paper-lined work surface.

Push and “slide” the dough with the heel of your hand to blend, until the mixture becomes dough.

Lift about 1/3 of the dough toward the center using a metal dough scraper.

Lift the other side, as if folding a letter.

Fold in the ends to form a square.

Turn the dough 45°.

Repeat the process (pushing/folding), until the dough is blended.

Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch-by-12-inch log.

Wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight, until firm, or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick slices with a thin, sharp knife.

Place on baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart.

Bake, rotating the sheets, as necessary, for even baking until the coins are medium golden on the edges and the bottom, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the crackers with kosher salt immediately.

Set on rack to cool.Parmesan, Rosemary And Fennel Almonds(About 3 cups)Extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 egg whites

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1½ cups blanched almonds

1½ cups raw almondsTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

Lightly oil the paper.

Grind rosemary, salt, fennel seeds and pepper in a spice mill, until it is finely ground.

Whisk egg whites in a large bowl, until they are frothy.

Add spices and cheese.

Add nuts.

Toss well to thoroughly coat them.

Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring very 15 to 20 minutes to redistribute the coating. The nuts will stick to the paper, so gently pry them loose to expose all the sides to the heat.

Roast, until evenly browned.

Transfer the nuts to a cooling rack.

Store in airtight containers until serving time.Greek Salad Skewers(Serves 6 to 8)1/2 English cucumber

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 pound feta cheese, cut into 16 small cubes

10 pitted Kalamata olives, halved

10 ripe grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Fancy cocktail party picks, or 3- to 4-inch wooden skewersTo prepare:Cut 4 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices from the cucumber.

Quarter each slice.

Set the cucumber pieces on a large serving platter.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top each with a piece of feta and an olive half.

Stab a toothpick though a tomato half.

Thread through each cucumber stack, pushing the toothpick down to secure it.

Drizzle the whole affair with olive oil.

Sprinkle with black pepper and serve.

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