The holiday season is upon us, which means plenty of party invites -- and for some, the fear of what to bring to a party, especially at the end of a hectic week. My secret weapon is this crostini, which is a favorite of my team at Parties That Cook. It is always a hit, and the best part is, it's easy to make and it looks festive with the red cranberries and green thyme.

I usually make the shallot-cranberry confit the day before. I also toast the baguette ahead of time, letting it fully cool, and then store it in an airtight container. I assemble the crostini right before guests arrive. For a more casual presentation, I serve it deconstructed and let guests assemble it themselves.

These Roquefort and shallot-cranberry confit crostini are do-ahead appetizersthat make even a weeknight cocktail party easy to do. And the confitmakes a
These Roquefort and shallot-cranberry confit crostini are do-ahead appetizers that make even a weeknight cocktail party easy to do. And the confit makes a splendid topping for meats and fish too. Must Credit: Chris Andre/Parties That Cook. ( Chris Andre )

I use the shallot confit on pizzas or flatbread, and serve it over lamb, pork or fish for a main course. It is also delicious stirred into warm, cooked green beans.

Bibby Gignilliat is the founder of San Francisco's Parties That Cook; www.PartiesThatCook.com.

Crostini of Roquefort with Shallot-Cranberry Confit

Makes 24

Confit:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 shallots, halved, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper          Tartines:

1 baguette, cut in 1/2-inch thick diagonal slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup (5 ounces) Roquefort or another high-quality blue cheese, softened

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1. For the confit: Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots, onions, cranberries and thyme. Cover and cook until shallots and onions are soft and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar. Continue to cook, covered, until shallots and onions have caramelized, about 10 more minutes. Add vinegar, lemon juice, warm water, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and mixture is golden brown (you may need to add more water to prevent onions from burning).

2. For the crostini: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bread slices on one side with olive oil. Arrange them on a sheet pan. Bake until bread is golden around the edges and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Spread 2 teaspoons of Roquefort cheese over each baguette slice. Top each a tablespoon of shallot-cranberry confit. Garnish with thyme leaves. Serve immediately.