The holiday season is in full swing, a time of potlucks, parties and guests dropping by the house to visit. Keeping things simple in the kitchen makes entertaining easier. A Pear, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Tart can be prepared ahead of time, then assembled and baked in just a few minutes. Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Drumsticks require hardly any effort for wow-factor flavor. Both recipes are perfect as a small bite for the cocktail hour or served on a casual holiday buffet.
Pear, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Tart
Makes 1 tart, approximately 11-by-14 inches, which can be sliced into 12 squares.
High-quality puff pastry can be found in the freezer section of the grocery store, and bakes up into a beautifully flaky, buttery, tart base. For a savory appetizer, pre-bake the pastry, then sprinkle over juicy pears, sweet caramelized onions, fragrant thyme leaves and an aged sharp cheddar. Finish the tart in a hot oven to caramelize the fruit and melt the cheese.
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 yellow onions
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 1 sheet frozen (all butter) puff pastry (from a 14-oz package), thawed according to package instructions
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 ripe Bosc pear, peeled, cored and chopped into ½-inch chunks
- 2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
- 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
Caramelize the onions. Melt the butter in a heavy pot or large, high-sided skillet. Prepare the onions by halving them lengthwise and then cutting into ¼-inch thick slices. Toss the onions into the pot with the salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the sugar. Monitor the pot, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from burning while they caramelize. After about 20 minutes, the onions will take on a glazed appearance and turn dark brown in color. Remove the onions from the skillet and place on a plate to cool. The onions can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container.
Bake the pastry. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the puff pastry and unfold it on a floured work area. Working quickly (the high butter content of the pastry will begin to melt in a warm kitchen), gently roll out the pastry to an 11-by-16-inch rectangle (or to fit inside your baking sheet). Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, excluding a ½-inch border around the perimeter. Bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan once, until golden brown and firm and dry to the touch. Check the pastry after five minutes of baking in the oven. If it is puffed up, pierce with a fork to allow the steam to escape and continue baking. Once the pastry is finished baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Assemble the tart. Scatter ½ cup cheese over the baked pastry, topped with the caramelized onions and then the pears. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese as well as the thyme leaves. Bake the tart at 375°F for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve the tart warm, sliced into 12 squares.
Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Drumsticks
Serves 6 as an appetizer.
Chicken drumsticks make a quick-cooking, easy and affordable appetizer for holiday entertaining. This mostly hands-off recipe involves marinating the drumsticks for a couple of hours, then roasting them quickly in the oven. The marinade is tart with a hint of spice, and creates a glazed coating that caramelizes, sweet and sticky, over the rich and tender dark chicken meat. If you’ve never cooked with pomegranate molasses, it’s syrupy and tart, a reduced pomegranate juice found in the Middle Eastern section of larger grocery stores or ordered online. Sweet and Sticky Drumsticks from the cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites, were the inspiration for this recipe.
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ cup pomegranate molasses
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 12 skin-on chicken drumsticks
- Cooking spray or vegetable oil for greasing the pan
- Seeds from ½ a pomegranate
Make the marinade. In a medium bowl, stir together the salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, and orange juice. Whisk in the pomegranate molasses. Place the garlic cloves and chicken drumsticks in a 1-gallon plastic, re-seal able bag. Pour marinade into the bag. Push all the air out of the plastic bag and seal it. Put the bag of chicken into the refrigerator to marinate for two hours.
Cook the chicken. Heat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease the foil with cooking spray or a teaspoon of vegetable oil to keep the chicken from sticking. Fit all twelve drumsticks on one large baking sheet with a little bit of space between each one. Roast the drumsticks for about 25 to 30 minutes, turning them once, until cooked through with an internal temperature of 160°F. The skin will be caramelized and dark.
While the drumsticks cook in the oven, make a sauce with the marinade. Remove the garlic cloves and pour the marinade into a small high-sided skillet. Bring to a boil (to destroy any bacteria), then turn down the heat and simmer until reduced and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the thickened sauce into a bowl.
Upon removing the cooked chicken from the oven, brush with the reserved sauce and place the drumsticks on a platter. Sprinkle the chicken with pomegranate seeds and serve warm.