Celebratory Appetizers for Your Holiday Parties

The best way to get any party started is with amazing appetizers. They excite your guest as an amazing first impression and can even become the main event, with enough of them. If you are seeking some appetizers that your guests will talk about for the next year (or more) look no further. We have three delightful bites that balance sweet, salty, savory and brightness. Pair with a signature cocktail and you have yourself something worth celebrating.


Duck Bacon Wrapped Apricots


  • 1/2 Package Duck Bacon
  • 12 Dried Apricots
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 12 Leaves of Sage
  • Vegetable Oil


  1. Set Nomiku water bath to 70°C (158°F). Put dried apricots, maple syrup, water, and vanilla in a freezer-safe zip bag and seal using the water displacement method. Sous vide for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small sauce pan coat entire bottom with vegetable oil. Heat to 350F. Gently drop in sage leaves and fry for about 3 seconds and remove. Transfer to paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Slice duck bacon in half. Remove apricot from water bath, wrap with duck bacon, and secure with a toothpick. In a cast iron at medium-high heat, sear the duck bacon-wrapped apricot until it has a nice char. Serve with crisp sage leaves.

Sous Vide Quail Egg on Buckwheat Blini

Ingredients – Blinis

  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted– extra butter cooking blinis, ½ teaspoon per blini

Ingredients – Assembly

  • 3 bunches fresh tarragon, two bunches chopped and 1 bunch for garnishing
  • 6 chive sprigs, minced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 dozen quail eggs
  • buckwheat blinis
  • 2 ounces trout or salmon roe
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine both flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter, then whisk into the flour mixture.
  3. Put in 1/2 teaspoon of melted butter per slot in muffin tin and ½ to 1 tablespoon of batter in per slot so that is spreads to cover the entire bottom. Bake blinis for 6 minutes or until bubbling and slighty brown on top.
  4. Remove cooked blinis from tin and repeat with the remaining batter if necessary. Set aside.
  5. Set up Nomiku according to manufacturer’s instructions and turn temperature to 64°C (147°F).
  6. Put quail eggs gently into water bath and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Mix chives, tarragon, sour cream, and salt together.
  8. Top blini with ½ tablespoon of herbed sour cream mixture and create a little crater for the quail egg to rest on. Granish the quail egg with two tarragon leaves and roe. Repeat! Take time to admire your work.

Pork Belly Bao

Ingredients – Pork Belly

  • 5lb Pork Belly
  • Vegetable or grapeseed oil as needed

Ingredients – Tamari Belly Glaze

  • 300ml Tamari
  • 400ml Mirin
  • 50ml Pork fat
  • 2 Garlic cloves

Ingredients – Bao Assembly

  • 16 Good quality frozen baos (found in frozen section of Asian specialty stores)
  • 1 Iceberg lettuce head
  • 1 cup White wine vinegar
  • 3 Thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 Thinly sliced white onion
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves (2 leaves per bao)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup ice


Pork Belly

  1. Preheat Nomiku Water Bath to 59ºC (138ºF). Trim skin off and reserve excess fat to be put on low flame to get some liquid pork fat (50ml) for the glaze.
  2. Portion cold pork belly into long logs 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
  3. Vacuum seal each log with 2 tablespoons of some neutral oil (like grape seed or vegetable oil) or use a zip bag and the water displacement method. For long cooks, be sure to use sturdier freezer type zip bags (they are thicker).
  4. Cook Pork Belly for 72 hours (3 days) at 59ºC(138ºF). Cool in ice bath when done for 20 minutes and refrigerate the cooked logs before handling or slicing.

Directions – Glaze

  1. Render excess pork belly fat reserved until it yields 50 ml liquid pork fat.
  2. Combine all glaze ingredients in a pot on medium flame, reduce Tamari Belly Glaze down to 1/3rd of it’s original volume or until it can coat the back of the spoon. Taste and adjust salt the glaze should be a bit more sweet than salty.
  3. Glaze can be used immediately to coat pork but can also be made in advance. For advanced cooking, leave to cool until room temperature in an airtight container and then move to fridge.
  4. To use the glaze, reheat on medium heat until slightly bubbling on edges and then hold on low flame for use.

Bao Assembly

  1. Keep glaze warm over a low flame.
  2. Wash, dry, and cut iceberg lettuce to the same size as the bao.
  3. Pick off cilantro leaves (do not use stems), set aside.
  4. Slice radishes and white onion by thinly with a mandoline (1mm thick). Soak radishes and onion slices in vinegar, salt, and ice to crisp.

Bao (steamer)

  1. Preheat steamer if you have one, steam the baos for 5 minutes, do not leave them in the hot steamer more than 10 minutes, they will slowly break down and go stale (turn slightly yellow and tough, they will also go tough if you leave them outside)
  2. Baos should be heated up at the very last minute before serving.

Bao (microwave)

  1. If a steamer is not available, use the microwave. Cut up some parchment paper and line the bottom of a large plate and put on the frozen baos.
  2. Then tear off about 4 pieces of kitchen paper towel and dampen them, be careful not to get them dripping wet.
  3. Lay the baos lined with parchment onto the plate and cover with damp towels all the way to the rim and tuck the damp towel edges under the baos. Make sure there are no gaping holes.
  4. Microwave on high for 3 min and 30 seconds (for 1000W microwave, YMMV).
  5. Be careful of the hot plate and steam when removing from the microwave. Leave bao covered and warm for service.

Final prep

  1. Sear the pork belly fat side down until skin is brown and crispy, around 5 minutes, the majority of the pork belly should stay cold.
  2. Slice the cooked pork belly cold because the temperature will help hold the structure together, if you were to slice it warm, it would fall apart.
  3. Slices should 1/2 inch thick, drop slices into the hot glaze for about 2 minutes to heat all the way through and soften.
  4. Place the glazed slice between the bun along with all the other garnishes to your taste and stack like a burger. Serve immediately.


Tags: holiday recipes.