Chef Justine’s Favorite Holiday Appetizers

Smoked Trout Spread 

“This is my go-to appetizer,” says Chef Justine. “I set it out with some pita chips at cocktail parties and serve it on bagels at my holiday brunch. Just be sure that all the dairy products are at room temperature so that they blend easily and be generous with the black pepper. It makes the dish.”

Makes about 3 cups
Serves 12 

½ pound smoked trout fillets
1 small bunch fresh chives
1 small bunch fresh dill 
1 lemon 
¼ pound cream cheese
¼ pound mascarpone 
¼ pound crème fraîche or sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium bowls

1 Prep the herbs and the trout

  • Pull the skin off the trout and discard. Working over a medium bowl, using your hands, flake the trout into 1-inch pieces. 
  • Finely chop enough chives to measure ¼ cup. 
  • Finely chop enough dill to measure ¼ cup.
  • Zest and juice the lemon, keeping the zest and juice separate.

To the bowl with the trout, add the chopped chives and dill and the lemon zest and gently toss together.

2 Prep the cream cheese base; finish the dip
In another medium bowl using a wooden spoon, or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, blend together the cream cheese, mascarpone, crème fraîche, and the lemon juice. Gently fold the trout mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper. 

3 Serve 
Serve at once with crackers or thinly sliced toast on the side. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition per serving: 150 Calories, Protein: 7g (14% DV), Fiber: 0g (0% DV), Total Fat: 12g (18% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Saturated Fat: 8g (40% DV), Cholesterol: 60mg (20% DV), Sodium: 80mg (3% DV), Carbohydrates: 2g (1% DV), Total Sugars: 1g, Added Sugars: 0g (0% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.


Justine’s Onion-Apple Tartlets 

“Only the most hardcore bakers make their own puff pastry,” says Chef Justine. “For the rest of us, there’s no shame in buying the frozen stuff. The unusual combination of onions and apples is surprisingly delicious, especially when paired with Gruyère cheese and fresh thyme.” 

Makes 32 2-inch tartlets 
Serves 16

3 yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Granny Smith apples 
½ pound Gruyère 
6 sprigs fresh thyme 
Small bunch fresh chives 
1 egg
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (such as Dufour)

Peeler, box grater, whisk, optional, pastry brush, large bowl, large frying pan, 2 sheet pans

1 Prep and cook the onions 
Position 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 400°F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

  • Peel and thinly slice the onions. 

In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons butter until hot but not smoking. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan, spread in an even layer, and let cool to room temperature. Do not clean the pan. 

While the onions cook and cool, prepare the remaining ingredients.

2 Prep the remaining filling ingredients

  • Peel the apples. Cut them into quarters lengthwise and cut away the cores. Thinly slice the fruit. 
  • Using the large holes of a box grater, coarsely grate the cheese. 
  • Strip the thyme leaves from the stems. 
  • Finely chop enough chives to measure 3 tablespoons. 

3 Cook the apples
In the same pan used to cook the onions, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened and just starting to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the apples to a large bowl. Stir in the onions, cheese, thyme, and chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4 Assemble the tarts

  • Crack the egg into a small bowl. Using a whisk or fork, lightly beat until just blended. 

Cut the puff pastry sheet into 2-inch squares. Arrange the squares on the prepared sheet pans about 1 inch apart. Lightly brush the squares with the egg. Place a heaping tablespoon of the onion-apple filling in the center of each square. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

5 Bake the tarts
Bake, rotating the sheet pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the pastry is crisp on the bottom and golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the sheet pans to wire racks and let the tarts cool to room temperature on the pans. 

6 Serve
Transfer the tartlets to a platter and serve. 

Nutrition per serving: 130 calories, Protein: 5g (10% DV), Fiber: 1g (4% DV), Total Fat: 9g (14% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Saturated Fat: 5g (25% DV), Cholesterol: 35mg (12% DV), Sodium: 140mg (6% DV), Carbohydrates: 7g (2% DV), Total Sugars: 4g, Added Sugars: 0g (0% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat. 

Bonus recipes—ingredients not included in box.