Monday, December 5, 2011

A Bite Of The Holidays

                Photo: Peter Callahan

I love small plates and never, ever go home hungry because I want to try a mini taste of absolutely everything. 
I’m into sharing so if you are territorial about your food, I’ll fix you a big plate now and check on you later but you’ll miss out on all the fun.
When I saw this cookbook, I was fascinated by the beautiful mini-bites that Peter Callahan created. I will admit that some of them are absolute works of art. Like the spaghetti and meatballs. Mine were not quite as perfect but with a little practice, I’ll be cranking out those perfect pasta stacks in no time at all. I also took shortcuts when I could.

For those of you who don’t know Callahan, he is one of New York’s top caterers. He caters Martha Stewart’s parties so you figure he is pretty good.

He was the first to cater mini-hamburgers at parties making him the king of bite-size everything and his cookbook will make you a fan of everything itty bitty.
He makes a good argument throughout his book: these out of the ordinary hors d'oeuvres not only taste great and are effortless to eat. They also establish the mood for the party.

In my estimation, they are the party and if you can make your guests go crazy for the food, you are half way there.

With these mini-bites, there's always the issue of how many you need to serve up so no one goes home famished. Plan on four hors d’oeuvres per person per hour but remember, the more they indulge in your mini-cocktails the more that number will shoot up to 6 or 8.
I tackled some of the recipes this weekend from Callahan’s cookbook – Bite by Bite.
I’ve been passionate about this cookbook (and I don’t say that too often) and the visuals are beautiful. They will force you to try just about every recipe in the book. Even I had a hard time narrowing down the list.
Use your imagination to make them your own. I’m already started thinking about some of the mini’s I can pull off my own recipes.
Have a magnificent holiday and save a mini-bite or two for me.
Bon Appetit!
Rather than serve a full size drink, serve a mini.
Mini drinks are sippers and a much better size to give out during the holidays when all the festivities take a high road on their own.

You see the difference between my mother’s wine glass and mine? Honestly, you can probably do a backstroke in mine it’s so big.
Think small. I’ve been serving these tiny drinks for weeks now and to tell you the truth people seem to really enjoy them.
I bought this miniature Patron bottle from Binny’s in Chicago and think that they are such a witty little container to serve your margaritas in.
Planning your parties is half the fun just like the Bloody Mary that I served up in a small flower vase. It was a hit.
These mini’s are perfect pairings for these bite sized appetizers and are also a lot easier on your party budget. I did these minis for a little less than half of what I spent last year.
So how do you decide what to pair with each dish? I love what Alpana Singh has to say:
“I'm a big fan of taking simple, extraordinary foods and matching them with a lofty wine counterpart, e.g. Champagne and potato chips, Malbec and BBQ ribs, Nebbiolo and Italian Beef and yes Pinot Noir with Bacon.”
I say whatever you want to do try it and if you love it – that’s your pairing!
Isn’t pairing simple?
Bon Appetit...again!
This bread free BLT bite is one of my favorite things on Peter Callahan’s menu.

12 large cherry tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 avocado
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt
23 medium yellow tomatoes
2 ruffled green lettuce leaves, torn into 24 pieces
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
2 bacon strips, cooked and sliced into ½” pieces
Use a small melon baller to scoop the seeds out of the cherry tomato. Set wedge aside.
Half avocado and chop into ¼” cubes. Sprinkle with lemon and salt.
Set yellow tomatoe on cutting board. Cut a small slice off so it can balance. Cut small slice off top where you will place the BLT.
Set the cherry tomato wedge on a tray and give it a dot of Mayo. Top with avocado cubes and finish with bacon. Place on yellow tomatoes and serve.
Pair with: Pinot Noir.
The sweet and sour cherry profile of Pinot Noir along with baking spice notes from the oak combine to make a perfect foil for the salty, and fatty flavor of bacon.

Or Pair with: A super cold Blue Moon.
Fresh off last week’s love affair with S’mores, here is why this mini-bite keeps you coming back for more.
Yes, as in all mini’s, you’re allowed to have seconds.

Nonstick spray
About 2 cups confectioner's sugar
39 large marshmallows (15 for s’mores, 24 for serving)
10 whole graham crackers (6 squares)
3 1.55 ounce Hershey’s milk chocolate bars, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter

Line the bottom of a 5 x 9-inch glass loaf pan with parchment paper, and then spray the bottom and sides with nonstick pan spray, sift 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar over the pan to liberally coat the bottom and sides.
Place 15 marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave them in six 15-second increments, stirring after each, until the marshmallows are melted, about 1 1/2 minutes total. Pour the marshmallows into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to smooth out the top. Cover the marshmallow layer with 1/4 inch of confectioner’s sugar. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place a small bowl of confectioner’s sugar next to your work surface. Lift the parchment out of the loaf pan and set the marshmallow layer on your work surface. Use a 1-inch-square cookie cutter to cut out 24 marshmallow squares, occasionally dipping the cutter into the confectioner’s sugar to prevent it from sticking.
Break the graham cracker rectangles into half so you have 6 squares, and then break the squares into individual rectangles; you’ll have 12 total. Use a serrated knife to gently saw each rectangle in half crosswise so you have 12 small squares.
Set an oven rack at the top position (about 3 inches from the broiler element) and heat the broiler to high. Place the graham cracker squares on an aluminum-foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place a chocolate square on each graham square, and cover the chocolate with a marshmallow square. Place the baking sheet in the oven and broil unto the marshmallow is lightly browned, 15 to 30 seconds (watch your broiler closely, as heat intensity varies). Or, if you have a kitchen blowtorch, torch the marshmallows until browned. Shortcut: I used the flame on my gas stove.
Place a small dab of peanut butter on the bottom side of each of the remaining 24 marshmallows, and stick them to serving tray, peanut butter side down. Balance the s’mores on top of the whole marshmallows and serve.
Serving Size Makes 2 dozen

Pair with: Donald Ziraldo’s Icewine
The ideal way to lighten up an AM Sunday brunch. Perfectly paired with your favorite morning after drink – the Bloody Mary.

Ham, Egg and Cheese
8 English Muffins, halved
12 ounces sliced Canadian Bacon
12 ounces cheddar cheese , sliced
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 large eggs
1 Tablespoon sour cream
Salt and pepper

Use a 1 ½-inch round cookie cutter to cut 24 rounds from the top halves of the English muffins, and 24 rounds from the bottom halves.

Use the same cookie cutter to cut out 24 rounds of the Canadian bacon and 24 rounds of the cheese.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter (2 tablespoons). Use a pastry brush to brush the cut side of the English muffin tops and bottoms with the melted butter.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and place some of the muffin tops, buttered side down, in the skillet. Toast until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with the muffins tops and bottoms. Set aside.
Heat another large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and some of the Canadian bacon rounds, and brown the bacon on both sides, about 1 minute total. Transfer the bacon to a large plate and repeat with the remaining rounds. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs and sour cream together until smooth.
In a medium nonstick skillet, melt the butter (1 tablespoon) over medium heat.
Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs have set into large fluffy curds, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Divide the scrambled eggs among the English muffin bottoms. Top each one with a cheese round and a bacon round. Cover with the English muffin tops and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Next time I would use a cookie cutter to slice out the perfect stack. Mine turned out a little messy but was still good.
The English muffin, cheese, and Canadian bacon rounds can be cut out 1 day ahead of serving.
Store the muffins, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature and the cheese and bacon in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Pair with: Bloody Mary’s!

Bloody Mary’s:

In a large pitcher whisk together the tomato juice, horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and pepper.
Taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.
Pour in the vodka and refrigerate. Pour into mini glasses when you are ready to serve. I used a small bud vase.
Visually, I love this recipe the best. An easy way to find out why you were Italian in your last life…or you wanted to be.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Makes 2 dozen portions

For the pasta sauce:

1 2-inch piece carrot, finely chopped
1 2-inch piece celery, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped shallot (about ½ medium shallot)
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 ½-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the meatballs:

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons port wine
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
¼ cup canned or homemade beef broth

For serving:

1 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1½ cups store-bought marinara sauce, pureed in a blender
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

To prepare the pasta sauce:

1. Place the carrot, celery, shallot, bay leaf, garlic and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and cover wit the cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by one third, about 20 minutes.

2. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve (discard the solids) into a medium bowl, and then pour it back into the saucepan. Set it over low heat.
3. Melt the butter in another small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste is straw-colored, about 30 seconds.
4. Whisk in the reduced pasta sauce in a slow, steady stream until all of it is added. Once a few bubbles burst at the surface, season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

To prepare the meatballs:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until it becomes translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and scrape the mixture into a large bowl to cool.

3. Once the shallot mixture is cool, whisk in the egg, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, port, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the ground beef and mix gently with your hands until well combined.

4. Shape the mixture into 1 tablespoon-size balls and place them in a 9 × 11-inch baking dish.

5. Pour the beef broth into the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, discard the foil, and let the meatballs cool to room temperature. Slice a small bit off the top and the bottom of each meatball to create a flat surface; then place the meatballs on a serving platter.

To serve:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the 1 teaspoon salt and the pasta. Cook, following the package instructions, until the pasta is al dente, and then drain.

2. Reheat the pasta sauce over medium-low heat until warm. Stick a fork into the pile of pasta and twirl to make a 3- or 4-strand nest. Dip the nest into the warm pasta sauce and then carefully slide it off the fork and on top of a meatball.

3. Repeat for the remaining meatballs. Finish each one with a dollop of the pureed marinara sauce, some Parmesan, and chopped parsley. Transfer to a platter and serve.

For serving:

1 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1½ cups store-bought marinara sauce, pureed in a blender
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Pair with: Mini bottle of Ruffino Chianti
My favorite was this fish taco and Gazpacho combination. I was prepared to hate this Gazpacho but loved it.
Use anything you can think up to close out the taco. I piled mine high with a combination of mango, cucumber and Jicama. A sort of Mexican holy trinity.

For The Gazpacho

1 cup seedless green grapes
1/2 seedless (English) cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and chopped
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 to 5 limes)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For The Taco Shells

6 cups peanut oil
2 10-inch flour tortillas

For The Tacos

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
1⁄8 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 4- to 6-ounce fresh cod fillet

For Serving

1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
24 limes
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
1 small ripe mango, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes


Place the grapes, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, chives, olive oil, and lime juice in the bowl of a food processor, or in a blender, and puree. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.

Taco Shells

In a large pot, heat the oil to 325°F. over medium heat. While the oil heats, prepare the tortilla shells: Place the tortillas on your work surface, and use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to stamp 12 rounds from each tortilla.Wrap a tortilla round around a 1/2-inch cannoli tube and then slide it inside a 1-inch tube. Repeat with 5 more tortilla rounds.

Place the 6 tubes in the oil and cook until the tortillas look golden, about 1 minute. Remove the tubes from the oil and place them on a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool. Once cool, carefully slide the fried shells and the 1/2-inch tubes out of the larger tubes. Remove the crisp shells and set them aside. Repeat with the remaining tortilla rounds.


In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon and lime zest, salt, and pepper. Place the cod fillet in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet (the baking dish or sheet pan should be long enough so the fillet rests flat) and rub with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the cod from the refrigerator, discard the plastic wrap, and roast it in the oven until the thickest part flakes apart easily when pierced with a fork, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool completely, and then flake the fish with your fingers or a fork. Makes 2 dozen


Scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin, place it in a small bowl, and mash with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and some pepper, and set aside. Slice a thin piece off one long side of each lime so it doesn't wobble. Rest the lime on the cut side.

Using a paring knife, cut a 1/4-inch-deep, 1-inchwide V-shaped notch into the top of the lime (this will be the cradle for the taco). Place 1/4 teaspoon mashed avocado in each taco shell. Divide the flaked cod among the tacos, and sprinkle the jalapeno and mango on top. Set the tacos into the prepared lime holders.

Divide the gazpacho among twenty-four small glasses, and serve one with each taco.

Paired With: Mini Patron Margarita

Equal parts of margarita mix (prefer Jose Cuervo), tripe sec and Patron. Add Roses lime to taste. I usually use about 1/2 cup of the liquors and 1/4 cup Roses Lime.

I’m a big fan of bacon (not just any bacon – Rick’s bacon from The Daily Grind who made THE BEST BACON from a pork shoulder that I have ever had) and baked beans. This little cup features the best when it comes to combining these two great flavors.

I just can’t imagine one now without the other – can you?

Baked Beans in Bacon Cups
Makes 2 dozen

For the honey:
1 cup honey
1 fresh habanero chile, thinly sliced

For the beans:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped
2 1/2 cups canned navy beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 thick-cut bacon strips, finely chopped
1/4 cup port wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt

For the bacon cups:
Nonstick pan spray
2 pounds thin-cut bacon

For serving:
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped red or yellow bell pepper (or a combination of the two)
2 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

Pour the honey into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat, add the habanero, and allow the honey to cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into an airtight container.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, brown sugar, bacon, port, cilantro, molasses, 1 tablespoon of the habanero honey, and the chili powder and salt. Stir to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the mixture is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bacon cups
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Turn a mini muffin pan upside-down and lightly coat the bottom with nonstick pan spray. Crisscross 3 slices of bacon over each upturned cup, and then place another mini muffin pan on top so that the bacon slices are compressed between the two pans. Place the pans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the bacon cups are crisp and browned, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to cool completely. Lift off the top pan. Carefully remove the bacon cups from the bottom pan and place them on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain, wrong side up.

Gently reheat the beans in a saucepan over medium heat until warmed through (add 1 tablespoon water if they're too thick or dry). Place a spoonful of the beans into each bacon cup. Top with a dot of sour cream, some bell peppers, and a scallion ring. Serve.
I use more mayo than this recipe. Like mine a bit creamy.

Serve With: Square of Cornbread

Note: Some people like to break up cornbread, put it in a glass and add buttermilk. That's dessert, to them. Think that’s a southern thing.
Paired with: Lots of water to soak up the bacon

Lobster happens to be one of my much loved all time super indulgences.

I use a little more mayo and mix (celery and the likes) because I like this sandwich on the creamy rather than the dry side.

Lobster Rolls

Makes 3 dozen

1 cup white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 celery stalks, very finely chopped
6 medium carrots, very finely chopped
3 large yellow onions, very finely chopped
5 fresh cilantro sprigs (or basil, dill or parsley sprigs)
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 whole allspice berry
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick
1 orange, quartered
1/2 lemon, halved
3 (1-pound) live lobsters*
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
36 mini buns
36 fresh chervil leaves
36 lemon wedges

Place wine, celery, carrots, onions, cilantro, ginger, salt, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and cinnamon stick in a large stockpot.

Squeeze in juice from the orange and lemon wedges, and then add juiced fruit rinds to the pot. Pour in 4 quarts water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Turn off heat and strain through a sieve into a large clean lobster pot or stockpot. Discard what remains in the sieve.

Bring the liquid back to a boil and add the lobsters. Quickly cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 8 minutes.

While lobsters are cooking, fill a large bowl or tub (or your kitchen sink) with ice water and place it next to your stovetop.

Using tongs, remove lobsters from the pot and plunge them into the ice water. Let lobsters cool, about 10 minutes.

Remove the lobsters from the ice water, Crack the shells and remove the meat (you should get about 12 ounces of lobster meat). Finely chop the lobster meat into 1/4-inch pieces, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving (but no longer than 1 day).

Whisk mayonnaise and truffle oil together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in lobster meat and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Use a serrated knife to slice the rolls at a 45-degree angle, starting at the top right corner and slicing three-quarters of the way through the roll. Place a small amount of lobster filling in each roll, finish with a chervil leaf, and serve with a lemon wedge.

*Cook’s note: Buy pre-steamed lobsters or lobster tails; use meat for lobster rolls.

I bought the buns rather than made them but this recipe is quick and easy.

Homemade Mini Buns
Makes 3 dozen

3 containers prepared dough crescent rolls (such as Pillsbury)

Carefully remove dough from each can so it comes out as a rectangle and doesn’t separate into the perforated triangles. There should be four 6×3-inch rectangles from each can (12 rectangles total).

Slice each rectangle lengthwise into thirds, so you have a 2×1-inch rectangle. Use a 13/4 × 1/2-inch oval cookie cutter to stamp out ovals from the folded dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Paired With: European Lemon Soda

Mention pot stickers and my eyes light up. Paired with the chicken and sparkling sake, I could absolutely indulge in Asian every night.
Pork Pot Stickers
8 ounces finely shredded napa cabbage (3 cups)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces ground pork
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1/2 cup water

Combine cabbage and 1 tablespoon of salt; let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse and squeeze cabbage dry. Combine with pork, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, sherry, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar in a large bowl.

Form 2 teaspoons of pork mixture into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt with a fork. Knead dough until all flour is Incorporated.

Divide dough into three balls. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out one ball of dough on a lightly floured surface until dough is 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2 inch round cutter, cut dough into 8 to 10 rounds. Cover rounds with plastic wrap. Repeat to roll and cut the remaining dough into rounds.

Shape dough circles around chilled pork mixture. To form a triangle fold place mixture into center of dough. Lightly pinch edges of dough to divide circumference of circle into thirds ( at 12 o’clock, 4 o’clock, and 8 o’clock positions.) Using your fingers, bring rounded edges of the dough together, encasing the filling and creating three equal sides. Use your fingers to firmly press the open rounded edges together to seal the dumpling. Place filled dumplings in a floured baking sheet.

In a sauté pan over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Place half the dumplings in pan. Reduce heat to medium.

Pan-fry dumplings 3 minutes. Slowly add 1/4 cup water, cover pan, and reduce heat to low. Steam for 6 minutes. Uncover pan, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until bottoms are crisp, 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining dumplings.

Serve with favorite dipping sauce.
Yields 30 dumplings

Chile Garlic Oil Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup peanut oil
6 dried red chile peppers, crushed
1 garlic clove, peeled

Heat ingredients over medium-low heat until garlic begins to brown. Transfer oil to small bowl. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

Foil-Wrapped Chicken
Marinate boneless, skinless chicken cut in bite sized pieces in Soy Vay Hoisin Garlic Asian Glaze. Wrap pieces in foil, closing on all sides. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or lightly coat boneless, skinless chicken, stir fry and cover with Soy Vay sauce.

Rice: Make as directed on the CalRose package.

Paired with: Ozeki "Hana-Awaka" Saké

This saké will kind of remind you of that sweet, bubbly Italian white wine, Moscato d'Asti. It's floral, lightly sparkling and full of sweet fruit.

A great little cookie that I picked up as an afterthought, this mini dessert is perfect for the season and is so much better if you use white chocolate before you sprinkle with peppermint.

Peppermint Snowballs

1 package (18-ounce) refrigerated sugar cookie dough, room temperature (recommended: Pillsbury)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (recommended: McCormick)
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies, plus more for garnishing
1 cup powdered sugar, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the cookie dough into 8 pieces. In bowl of electric mixer on medium speed thoroughly combine the dough pieces, peppermint extract, 1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies, and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. 

Roll the dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Arrange, 2 inches apart, on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake until set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on cooling racks.

Add 1/2 cup of the remaining powdered sugar to a small bowl. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the sugar. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies and serve.
As the cookies cool, they will flatten slightly.

Paired with: This was a no brainer...Mindy Segals Hot Chocolate (pop marshmallow over flame before it goes in your glass)

Another mini dessert: The mini Sugar Bliss cupcake

Super moist cupcakes are decorated with a rich and creamy frosting topped with their signature dot.

This one was called apple pie and it was so delicious – chunks of apple in an apple spice cake with cream cheese frosting.

Pair With: What else – Champagne. Doesn’t Champagne go with everything?