Go-to Holiday Appetizers


Chef Karista Bennett, from the blog "Karista's Kitchen,” stopped by to share her favorite go-to appetizers -- as easy as they are delicious!

Johnny Cakes with Smoked Salmon, Herbed Crème Fraiche and Cucumber

All three Recipes by Karista Bennett

Makes about 20-24, 2-inch round Johnny cakes


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or ghee


  • ½ cup crème Fraiche
  • ¼ cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (extra for garnish)
  • 4-6 ounces smoked salmon lox
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finely diced


In an electric mixer combine the flour, ground cornmeal, sugar and salt. Next while whisking add the lightly beaten egg, warm milk and olive oil.

Drop tablespoon size dollops onto a heated griddle. When done, place the Johnny Cakes on a platter to cool.

In a mixer, food processor, blender or by hand, whisk together the crème Fraiche, mascarpone and tablespoon of fresh chopped dill.

Once the Johnny cakes have cooled, top each cake with about ¾ teaspoon of the herbed crème Fraiche, a small piece of smoked salmon and then garnish with finely chopped cucumber and a fresh dill sprig.

If you want to be super fancy, you can “pipe” the herbed crème Fraiche onto the Johnny Cake with a pastry bag. When I’m out of pastry bags I use a small Ziploc bag and trim a corner for piping.

Options: you can also garnish these lovely little cakes with capers or chopped green olives.

Apple Chutney and Goat Cheese Crostini


Makes about 18-24 crostini

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3lbs of apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6-8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • Garnish options: chopped fresh chives, chopped micro-greens, chopped pistachios or hazelnuts


In a large pot over medium heat add the butter. When the butter is melted add the diced onion and saute for a few minutes until soft.

Then stir in the apples, raisins, mustard seeds, ground ginger, ground cardamom, sugar, apple cider vinegar and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for about an hour or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is soft.

Let the chutney cool and store in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

To make the crostini, Place the baguette slices in a single layer and spread goat cheese on each slice. Top with a dollop of the apple chutney and garnish with a fresh herb or chopped nuts.

Options: you can also use warm brie cheese or an herbed goat cheese.

Irish Chips

Serves 6-8

These Irish Chips are simple to prepare and delicious to eat. They can be served a la carte or with your favorite dip.


  • 6 cups of plain thick cut potato chips
  • 4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese


Heat the oven to 400F.

Place the chips in a single layer on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with the bleu cheese. Bake the chips for about 8-10 minutes or until the bleu cheese is melted.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Serve with Bacon and Cheese Dip, Roasted Red Pepper Dip or Chive and Caramelized Onion Dip.