Friday, December 2, 2011

Seven Dairy-Free and Delicious Wine-Friendly Holiday Appetizers

It's the holiday season. That means parties and family gatherings. That means hors d'oeuvres. Before I developed my full-fledged dairy allergy at 17, I had a few good years of enjoying cheese. So, while I never paired it with wine sadly, I remember a good thing.

At this time of year especially, I notice a lot of lists about wine and cheese pairings. Alas, it's not something I can take part in. However, that's no reason for me drink and not eat (not that there's anything wrong with that). All this is assuming that you don't have an allergy to sulphites or the allergens which are sometimes used in the making of wine (egg whites, dairy, etc.).

The fact is that there's so much to pair with wine besides cheese, feel sorry for the poor folks who are limiting themselves to one thing.

One note, I'm a girl who experiments in the kitchen. So, these are all very rough guidelines, not recipes. If there's something you want to know more about, let me know and I'll give you further tips.

1. Baguette topped with Daiya mozzarella-flavour vegan cheese and a great antipasto. My current antipasto favourite is Allessia La Bomba. Toast the baguette slightly, then put the baguette with Daiya underneath the broiler until the cheese is melted (watch this carefully!), remove from the oven and add the antipasto. I'll warn you now, La Bomba is addictive and I use it on everything - pasta, sandwiches, burgers, crackers.

2. Olives. You can never ever go wrong with olives. Kalamata, garlic-stuffed, lye-cured...the list of olives you can pair with wine is endless. Watch cross-contamination issues at olive bars. Pre-packaged olives might be a better bet.

3. Tapenade. Keeping with the olive theme, tapenade on baguette or crackers is amazing stuff and goes well with wine. Here's a recipe from Whole Foods: Kalamata Olive Tapenade Crostini

4. Dark chocolate. On the sweeter side, chocolate and wine are always a winning pair. My current favourite is Pacari. However, they are not completely allergen-free. However, I have found them safe on the dairy side of things. As with any new product, please contact them before trying, regardless of your allergy.

5. Hummus and pita. Though this is a simple and easily-made appetizer, I have to admit I buy mine. That said, I go the extra step. I roast garlic in the oven with olive oil and a bit of salt - all wrapped up in tin foil - for 30 minutes. Then, I liberally coat the pita (I use fake pita - Pita Break) with the roasted garlic and a bit of salt. Slice into triangles (eight for a large pita) and broil (again, watch carefully). Served with Saba Supremely Spicy Hummus, this is one of my all-time favourite things. If you slice the pita in half, through the pocket itself, leaving two thinner halves and then cut into triangles, it makes a great pita chip.

6. Veggies. It's simple and it's good. This just depends on what kind of dip you use. Hummus, a dairy-free savoury yogurt dip, a dairy-free cream cheese concoction or anything with Tofutti Sour Supreme. You really can't go wrong with a little experimentation. Well, you can, but you won't.

7. Prosciutto, Serrano ham or Iberian ham (Jamon Serrano or Jamon Iberico). Meat-lovers, this is the appetizer to end all appetizers. Slice the baguette into small round pieces. Don't get a large baguette for this. Think cute, Parisian bicyclist with a grocery bag in a basket with half of a skinny baguette peaking out of it. Brown the pieces - both sides - in a large, non-stick pan with a bit of vegan margarine. It's best to go salt-free, since the ham has enough salt. Once done, rub the surface of the bread with a really great tomato. Don't buy the pale, sickly, monster tomatoes. Get something off the vine - fresh, red and that gives slightly when you push the skin with your thumb. Size doesn't matter here, just taste. Then, put a thin slice of Iberian or Seranno ham on top. If you can't find (or afford) those, proscuitto works, too. Eat and die happy.

Hope this starts off your holiday right! If you have other foods you love to enjoy with wine, please share. Links are great!

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