Holiday Appetizers with Chef Jeanne Rafetto-Tentis

BACON POPCORN w/ CHEESE                                       10 Servings

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis



½ – ¼ c bacon grease (adjust according to taste)

¾ c popcorn

½ t sea salt (or to taste)

2-3 T crumbled bacon (optional)

1 c shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese or chesse of choice (optional)


Place bacon grease in a 6 quart pot and place over medium high heat.  Add one or two kernels of popcorn for testers.  When testers pop, add remaining popcorn and cover with a lid.  As corn begins to pop, shake the pan back and forth.  When popping slows down, remove from heat and allow to finish popping.



Pour the corn in a large paper sack or bowl.  Add half of the salt and shake vigorously or stir.  Add the bacon and cheese if using and shake again or toss if using a bowl.  Taste and adjust the salt as needed. 



NOTE:  Seasoned salt can also be used or additional seasoning such as, Penzey’s  “Forward”  or a pinch of cayenne pepper can be added at the end. 


Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis


Balsamic Vinaigrette                                                 Yield:  1c

3T balsamic vinegar

1T red wine vinegar

1t Dijon mustard

1 clove fresh garlic, pressed

¾ c good quality extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Combine vinegars, mustard and garlic.  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Can be made ahead and stored in a covered container for up to 1 week.

Wraps                                                                               Makes 24


¼  lb arugula or mesclun

2-4T Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshy grated

Balsamic vinaigrette, as above

12 thinly-sliced prosciutto

Place greens in a bowl and toss with the cheese.  Lightly dress with the balsamic vinaigrette, enough to barely coat the greens.  Do not over dress or the greens will wilt.

Set a slice of prosciutto on your work surface and put a small handful of greens at the narrow end of the meat.

Squeeze the greens as you roll a tight log.  Cut the log into 2-inch pieces on the diagonal (2 or 3 pieces depending on the width of the prosciutto)

Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

NoteCan also be wrapped around thin bread sticks

CHOCOLATE-CAYENNE COCKTAIL COOKIES            Makes about 6 doz.

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan


1 ½ c all purpose flour

½ c unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona Cocoa recommended)

½ t cayenne pepper

½ t fine sea salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/3 c confectioners’ sugar

2T granulated sugar

1 lrg egg yolk

Maldon salt for sprinkling

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cayenne and sea salt into a bowl and whisk to combine.  In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with both sugars at low speed until creamy.  Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth, then add dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently until it comes together.  Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk.  Roll out between two pieces of wax paper to about ¼ -inch thick.  Slide the wax paper-covered disks onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hr until very firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Working with one disk at a time, peel off the wax paper.  Using a 1 ½-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out the cookies as close together as possible.

Arrange the cookies about 1-inch apart on the parchment paper-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with some Maldon salt.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes until they are firm; shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

The rolled out frozen dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept frozen for 2 wks,  Baked cookies can be kept for 2 days in an airtight container.

These can also be made into a roll and frozen and then sliced but the uniformity is lost when doing this.


Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis


1 wheel of brie cheese

3-4 T fig jam

½ c pecans

Coarse sea salt, such as, Maldon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pecans in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat until aromatic and slightly toasty looking.  Remove to plate and allow to cool.  Chop some and leave some larger for top decoration.

Meanwhile, cut the brie wheel in half crosswise.  You should have two layers as in a layer cake.  Place bottom layer in an oven proof dish just large enough to hold the wheel.  Spread the bottom with half the fig jam and cover with the toasted nuts.

Place top layer cut side down on top of first layer.  With a sharp knife, carefully cut off the top rind leaving a ¼ inch wall around the edge.  Spread the top with remaining fig jam and sprinkle top with chopped pecans.  Place the larger pecan pieces on top in s decorative pattern.

Place dish in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is soft and melty but not runny.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt

Serve warm with crackers or baguette slices for spreading.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s