Making holiday treats never seemed easier

The holidays are fast approaching, so 45 patrons went to the Bartlett Library program "Holiday Appetizers and Wine Pairings" on Thursday, Nov. 2 to learn tips and tricks for cooking and preparing three different finger foods.

Chef Dave Esau, owner of Dave's Specialty Foods, Inc. catering, explained how to cook candied pecans, herb seared chicken with prosciutto and mushroom strudel.

First up, Esau demonstrated how to make the candied pecans, a tasty treat sure to impress any party guest.

Ingredients needed:
• ½ cup Cream-style Sherry or water
• ½ cup Sugar
• 1 cup Pecan halves
• Cinnamon

Cooking instructions:
• Place sherry and sugar in sauce pan. Bring to boil and cook over a high heat until soft ball or approximately 235 on candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat. Toss in nuts and stir until cloudy white and nuts are separated. Cool in pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Store covered up to two weeks.

Up next, patrons learned how to cook an herb seared chicken with prosciutto.

Ingredients needed:
• 4 Chicken fillets
• 2 Tbsp Olive oil
• 4 slices Prosciutto, thin sliced
• Herbs de Provence
• Salt and pepper

Cooking instructions:
• Season chicken with herbs and salt. Place prosciutto onto large plate and roll around seasoned chicken breast. Sear in olive oil to brown. Flip and sear another one minute. Finish in oven (350) about five minutes. Serve warm with polenta.

The last recipe Esau went over was the mushroom strudel.

Ingredients needed:
• 3 Portabellas, stem removed
• 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
• 6 Tbsp Olive oil
• 2 oz Goat cheese
• 1 puff pastry sheet, cut into 6" x 12" strip
• ½ Onion, peeled and sliced thin
• Egg wash
• Salt and pepper

Preparing instructions:
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place portabellas bottom side up in roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper, herbs and 3 Tbsp olive oil. Add one cup water or white wine to pan and roast in oven 25 minutes until mushrooms are shiny, soft and cooked through. Removed from oven and set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile, caramelize onions with three Tbsp olive oil in sauté pan over high heat while tossing and stirring to evenly brown. Set onions aside to cool.
• Chop cooked mushrooms and onions together into a large dice and be sure to mix well. Place mushroom mixture on puff pastry strip. Top mushrooms with chunks of goat cheese.
• Brush pastry edges with egg wash and fold pastry over mushroom mix to cover. Seal edges and place mushroom strip on parchment lined baking sheet. B
• Brush pastry top with egg wash and bake 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
• Remove pastry from oven, let cool 20 minutes and slice to serve.

Throughout the presentation, Esau kept the mood light by making patrons laugh at jokes and involving a few patrons in the cooking processes, which included keeping a timer and adding olive oil to a pan.

If you missed this program, an upcoming adult program at the Bartlett Library is "The Happiness Conundrum: How to Go from Mad to Glad" on Monday, November 13 at 7 p.m. The fast approaching holiday season is nearly upon us. We feel excited with the anticipation, joy and happiness of sharing this sacred time with our loved ones. On the other hand, it is a season marked by chaotic activities that can leave us down in the dumps. So where is the love and connection we need to truly feel happy?

For more information and a complete listing of scheduled programs, call 630.837.2855 or visit

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Thank you for sharing information from this fun program, Roslyn! The recipes sound delicious. :)