These recipes will be the star of your next holiday party

Whether you’re joining neighbors or gathering with family this holiday season, it’s nice to have a few recipes that won’t keep you in the kitchen for the entire gathering. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with local culinary experts to bring you some simple crowd-pleasers for the season.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Cooks & Soldiers’ pan con tomate

Kick off your holiday celebration with a flavorful and easy appetizer recipe courtesy of Cooks & Soldiers in West Midtown. The establishment’s name, according to cooksandsoldiers.com, references the citywide Tamborrada celebration in San Sebastian, Spain. During the event, participants dress up as — you guessed it — cooks or soldiers. Owner Federico Castellucci and executive chef John Castellucci provide a Basque-inspired menu.

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Ingredients

  • Loaf of sourdough
  • 2 tablespoons oil per slice
  • Pan con tomate mix — yields 1 quart
  • 2½ cups plus 2½ tablespoons grated (or crushed) tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2½ tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon piquillo peppers, blended
  • ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton dulce
  • Sherry vinegar, to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Make mix. Grate tomatoes (or use crushed).
  2. Strain extra water.
  3. Add all ingredients and mix.
  4. Heat oil in sauté pan and toast sourdough until both sides are golden brown.
  5. Cut bread as desired.
  6. Spread thin layer of mix on top.
  7. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and salt.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Saints + Council’s sorghum and spice pecans

Continue your holiday appetizer presentation with this sorghum and spice pecans recipe, which works really well for a big crowd. It’s courtesy of Saints + Council owner William Pitts. The Colony Square restaurant offers rustic, American food and a centrally placed cocktail bar.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds pecans
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ oranges, zested and juiced
  • ½ cup sorghum syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ tablespoon chipotle powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each: nutmeg, allspice, ground ginger, ground clove
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon pepper
  • Sesame seeds and orange zest, to garnish

Directions

  1. Toast dry nuts at 325 degrees for 12 minutes and let cool.
  2. In a pot, add sugar, orange juice and sorghum and heat slowly over medium heat until boiling.
  3. Add spices, salt and pepper. Melt in butter and let cool slightly.
  4. Pour over nuts to coat evenly and spread on lined sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, and let cool.
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Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

2b Whole’s sugar cookies

Move onto dessert with these treats from 2B Whole Gluten Free Bakery. These gluten-, soy-, nut- and dairy-free holiday treats will accommodate a wide range of guests. Founder Toula Argentis made some dietary changes to accommodate her children’s needs years ago, and now she brings clean, baked creations to the public via her Alpharetta bakery.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups of sugar
  • 2⁄3 cup of dairy-free butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3¼ cups of gluten-free flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup of coconut milk from a can

Directions

  1. In a large mixer, beat the sugar with the butter. Add eggs in one at a time and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together all your dry ingredients. Add your dry mix and coconut milk to the sugar and egg mix, alternating until done, and mix for about 3 minutes until well incorporated.
  3. Yield: 12-15 cookies, depending on size of cookies. Scoop onto a baking sheet in small balls with a tablespoon. Flatten and keep 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until just slightly gold.

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