For me, Christmas Eve is the best part of Christmas. I’m a picker, a snacker, a muncher and I love the variety of food that is served on Christmas Eve.
We sometimes do a variation on the Italian Seven Fishes celebratory feast with shrimp, lobster, clams and crab. A feast from the sea is great for most people, but not everyone.
I always enjoy the appetizer round of any meal. I am usually charged with the appetizers for Christams Eve. I make a cheese/antipasta platter that mixes fun with flavor and really gets the tastebuds going.
You want a cheese platter with a nice variety flavors and textures. For every hard cheese like cheddar or provolone, add a soft cheese like a brie or a gorgonzola. Semi-soft cheeses like gouda or Emmental are nice additions. I like to stuff big green olives with bleu cheese for a pungent, creamy delight. Don’t keep the cheese platter in the refrigerator, but allow the cheese to sit for a half hour at room temperature to activate the funk in the cheeses.
For meats, I like to mix Italian salamis and prosciutto with Iberian ham, Hungarian salami, spicy soppressata and smoked ham. Pepperoni is always a crowd favorite so I pair it with a mellow Jarlsberg or a smoke mozzarella.
In the creation above, I fan out the meats and cheeses to represent the colorful plumage of the turkey, layering from the outside in. In the photo below, I stack the meats and cheese in managable bites to create a cheesy winter wonderland with a salami log cabin and a grape tomato Christmas tree. Generally, you want to make it easy for people to access while making it appealing to the eye. Cutting meats and cheeses into shapes that play into your theme is fun, too. Toothpick are very handy when you are building.
I sometime wrap mozzarella with soppressata or Havarti cheese with a Hungarian salami. Pepperoni, Genoa salami, prosciutto and different sausages or pate balance the platter out nicely. Olives, pickled mushrooms, peppers, crudité and hummus add something for everyone. I use an apple to make a fun centerpiece, because I’m kooky like that and it gets a laugh.
For crackers, I like Carr’s Sesame or plain, Saltines, Ritz or Triscuits are fine, too. Rich brown breads, crostini or breadsticks add a little panache. Mix it up.
Merry Christmas Eve!