It’s that wonderful time of year when everything is lit up, friends you haven’t seen in a while come over, and everyone is in a mood to relax and catch up from the bizarre couple of years we’ve had. Let’s give you one less item to stress over — “What appetizer should I bring to the party?” Today we will make a couple of fun snacks that will be something different than everyone bringing chips. For the first one, we will go back to last months recipe for cranberry sauce and use it on a fun canapé.

Cranberry sauce to look like a Santa hat

• 4 ounces creamy goat cheese

• 4 ounces mascarpone (or cream cheese)

• Cranberry sauce (from last month’s recipe)

• Crackers

Whip the goat cheese and mascarpone together until smooth, and if you have a piping bag, pipe the cheese in a ring on the cracker, and using a small spoon, add a small dollop of the cranberry sauce.

Pipe a small dab on the top of the cranberry and — ta da! A fun little Santa hat. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can pick one up at any store that has kitchen gadgets, or you can go old school and use a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off one corner.

Parmesan-crusted polenta with curried crab

• 18-ounce package precooked polenta

• 8 ounce package crab claw meat

• 1 ½ teaspoon curry powder

• ½ teaspoon salt

• 1 dash black pepper

• ½ cup flour

• 1 cup Panko crumbs

• 1 cup parmesan

• 2 eggs

Start by slicing the polenta into ¼ inch discs, then cut each disc into quarters, this will give you a nice one bite appetizer. In a medium bowl, put the crab and one teaspoon of the curry powder and mix thoroughly. Curry is a generic term for a plethora of spice mixes from the Indian subcontinent, there are warm curries, spicy curries, sweet curries and so on.

I use a mix of garam masala and generic curry powder, but you can use whatever you prefer. Now you need three medium bowls, one to make an egg wash (just beaten eggs, but adding a dash of salt is a great idea), one for the Panko and parmesan mix and one for the seasoned flour. For the parmesan mix, you want slightly more parmesan than Panko, but basically one to one.

For the seasoned flour, add the flour, salt, pepper and ½ teaspoon curry powder. Toss the polenta pieces in the flour, making sure that each piece is covered. Then dunk in the egg wash, let the excess drip off, the dredge in the Panko mix.

To cook them, you want to have a pan with about ½ inch of hot oil. Be very careful — nothing will mess up your holiday like an oil burn! Cook to a golden brown on both sides and set on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Top with some crab, sprinkle a little parmesan on top and serve warm.

Now pour a glass of your favorite bubbly and mingle. Until next time, happy holidays!

Dave Frank is a retired local chef whose family members are willing guinea pigs for his food adventures.

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