Recipes by James Jessen, Bistro di Bufala | Photos by Taylor Johnson

Decorating and cleaning and cooking, oh my! Not sure how you’ll manage to get everything done in time for your holiday party? Don’t fret! This month chef James Jessen shares a selection of hors d’oeuvres that can be prepped the day before, and finished in the oven or arranged on a plate on party day so that you can serve your guests with a little less stress!

Wild Rice Chile Rellenos with Pomegranate Reduction

Wild Rice Chile Rellenos with Pomegranate Reduction

CHILE RELLENO

  • 6 poblano peppers
  • 1 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 6 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 4 sliced green onions
  • 1 cup sliced wild mushrooms
  • Minced cilantro
  • 12 slices mozzarella
  • 9 tablespoons chevre goat cheese

POMEGRANATE REDUCTION

  • 1 pint pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or white wine
  • Skin from an apple — the pectin from this is a flavorful thickening agent

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook wild rice according to directions.
  • Sautée wild mushrooms in olive oil or butter with pinch of salt.
  • Cool rice and mix with sautéed mushrooms, cranberries and green onions.
  • Fire roast the pepper on a grill until charred.
  • Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to allow peppers to sweat.
  • Slide skin off of the peppers and make
  • a long slice on one side of the peppers.
  • Remove seeds and lay flat with the inside opened up.
  • Place a slice of mozzarella, 1 1/2 table-spoons goat cheese and fill with the rice mixture, and top with a slice of mozzarella.
  • Fold the sides of the pepper up so it resembles its original shape, only stuffed.
  • Bake at 350F until cheese is melted and peppers are heated through.

FOR THE REDUCTION

  • Over very low heat, simmer all the ingredients until reduced by half.
  • Strain, chill and drizzle your relleno once out of the oven.
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Prawns

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Prawns

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds 13/15 raw shrimp
  • 1 can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1 package thinly sliced bacon
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce to finish
  • Zest of one lemon

DIRECTIONS

  • Clean shrimp and make a slit through
  • the middle.
  • Stuff with a thick slice of water chestnut. 
  • Wrap the shrimp with half a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  • Grill the shrimp over medium heat until the bacon gets crispy and shrimp is no longer opaque.
  • Remove from heat and brush with barbecue sauce.
  • Grill about 1 minute to get a lovely glaze from the barbecue sauce.
  • Sprinkle with the zest of lemon and serve.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Dates

Prosciutto-Wrapped Dates

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package of pitted Medjool dates
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • Whole almonds, roasted
  • Thinly sliced prosciutto

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix the cream cheese and blue cheese together until creamy.
  • Take the dates and slice in half.
  • Stuff with the cheese mixture and wrap tightly with prosciutto.
  • Slice in half and stuff one roasted almond in the top.
Apricot Baked Brie with Honey Pepper Glaze

Apricot Baked Brie with Honey Pepper Glaze

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces round brie
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 4 ounces chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Cayenne to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Place cheese in a small baking pan.
  • Spread the top of cheese with preserves and sprinkle with pistachios.
  • Bake about 10-12 minutes or until cheese begins to melt and lose shape.
  • For glaze, heat honey, apricot preserves, cranberries, cayenne and red pepper over low heat.
  • Drizzle immediately over warm brie from the oven.
Chocolate Pots de Crème

Chocolate Pots de Crème

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

DIRECTIONS

  • Whisk milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is almost boiling. Do NOT let it boil; it should take 5-6 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate in a separate bowl
  • and whisk by hand until the chocolate is melted and the texture is smooth.
  • Divide chocolate mixture among cups and chill until set, 2 hours at least.
  • When ready to serve, whip the cream and confectioner’s sugar with a mixer
  • or in a blender until soft peaks form.
  • Top the pots de crème.

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