Holiday dinners are traditionally formal, sit-down affairs, but that’s not necessarily the way it has to be. This holiday season, start your own tradition with friends and family and serve a holiday snack dinner—a pick-a-mix buffet of favorite foods in bite-sizes, perfect for party grazing and sharing with loved ones. To jump start your holiday snack dinner, take a look at these chef-inspired ideas, choose what looks appetizing and start creating your own pick-a-mix menu.
To start, opt for a few easy dips, like a pepperoni cheese dip with green chilies and black olives, which Chef Bryan Emperor with O-Ku DC serves in his home with chips, bread and veggie sticks. Or, Chef Kevin Chun of VERSA at Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel suggests blending and baking fresh or frozen oyster meat, shredded parmesan cheese and bacon bits with store-bought spinach and artichoke dip for an easy oysters Rockefeller dip. He also likes serving fresh cranberry and goat cheese stuffed mushrooms; and bacon wrapped apples with sage and maple syrup.
Turkey can still take center stage in your holiday snack dinner, simply serve it in finger sandwich sizes, with a bit of pizzazz like pimento cheese, as Chef Lindsay Autry of The Regional Kitchen & Public House in West Palm Beach suggests for a southern-inspired version. Or, Chef Ronnie Sanchez from Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs likes to shred turkey breast and serve it with sautéed kale and cranberry chutney on toasted pumpernickel. For a different take, Executive Chef Kalen Fortuna of The Perry Hotel Key West serves what he calls turkey ribs (really a shoulder cut), served with a Grand Marnier cranberry chutney, or Wisham Jellies’ Cranberry Pepper Jelly. And then there’s the old favorite – warm turkey and stuffing sandwiches. Chef David Shute with the Fairmont Orchid likes to put warmed turkey and stuffing between two pieces of his favorite bread (he brushes his with olive oil and toasts it), finished off with sage gravy.
For what may be considered side-dish snacks, Chef Ronnie suggests serving diced and roasted crimson beets, toasted Marcona almonds and crumbled feta wrapped in rainbow chard a la lettuce wraps; butternut squash soup “shooters” finished with an apple cider reduction; and endive spears stuffed with Roquefort mousse, pomegranate pearls and snipped chives. Chef Lindsay adds to the spread ricotta toasts with pistachios, black pepper and honey; and roasted sweet potatoes with a simple cranberry agrodolce. Speaking of sweet potatoes, Executive Chef Michael Wright of FIRE at the ART, a hotel in Denver brings to the table bite-sized sweet potato latkes garnished with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon crème fraiche.
If there’s room for dessert – and isn’t there always? – think of serving mini-tiramisu served in demitasse cups, as suggested by Chef Ronnie.
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