Friday, December 19, 2008

Easy Appetizer Recipes


We like to serve bruschetta or crostini as appetizers with drinks or wine because they are easy and affordable. All of the recipes here are simple to prepare. Most require only assembling ingredients. They make a nice alternative to the standard assorted cheese & crackers appetizer. Most bruschetta is also excellent served with a green salad for a light lunch. 

Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah or broo-SHEH-tah) is Italian toast. Bruschetta slices can be large or small, but a slice about three inches in diameter by half-inch thick is ideal. Italians call smaller, thinner slices, such as those from a French baguette or small Italian loaf, “crostini”, meaning “little toasts.”

The most important ingredient is the bread. Artisan breads & baguettes are perfect for bruschetta & crostini. A chewy rustic loaf is ideal, preferably one that won’t get too hard when toasted. Soft bread doesn't work well. We like sourdough or a French baguette. The bread can be toasted in a toaster, under the broiler, in the oven, in a toaster oven or on a grill. Toast the bread just before adding the topping so that the warmth can enhance the topping flavor.

Take the following ideas as a base to create your own special easy and tasty holiday appetizers.

Avocado & Green Onions – Peel, pit and mash a ripe avocado. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mound mixture on toasted bruschetta and sprinkle with diagonally sliced green onion tops. Drizzle with a few drops of extra virgin olive. My personal favorite and using French sea salt makes it even better.

Sliced Smoked Salmon
  With Cream Cheese - Soften cream cheese to room temperature. Combine with finely chopped red onion, drained capers and chopped chives. Top toasted bruschetta with cream cheese mixture, arrange salmon slices on top, sprinkle with a touch of lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
With Cucumbers – Place smoked salmon on toasted bruschetta, top with very thinly sliced European seedless cucumber slices, sprinkle with lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. 

Goat Cheese
With Sun-dried Tomatoes & Fresh Rosemary – Mix goat cheese, oil packed chopped sun-dried tomatoes, freshly chopped fresh rosemary and a small amount of minced garlic. Spread on toasted bruschetta.
With Basil and Green Onions – Bundle basil leaves and cut into a chiffonade (very thin ribbons). Thinly slice green onions, including some of the green tops and combine with softened goat cheese and basil. Serve on toasted bruschetta. Garnish with a few of the sliced green onion tops.
With Fig Preserves and Walnuts - Serve softened goat cheese topped with fig spread and crushed toasted walnuts on toasted bruschetta. You can omit the walnuts if desired.
With Tapenade - In a small bowl, combine purchased tapenade (an olive paste), chopped fresh thyme leaves, chopped toasted walnuts and a few dried currants or raisins. If you have the time, plump the currents in some warm water for a few minutes; then drain. Spread softened goat cheese onto toasted crostini slices. Place a good dap of tapenade on top of bruschetta. 
Other Goat Cheese suggestions – Spread toasted bruschetta with softened goat cheese and garnish with any of the following: roasted red pepper strips (jarred are fine), dabs of green or black olive paste (tapenade), oil-marinated sun-dried tomato pieces, a piece of black olive or green olive, snipped chives, minced fresh parsley or parsley sprigs, fresh basil leaves, tiny diced and salted tomato, green and red grape halves, or a drizzling of extra-virgin olive oil with a grinding of fresh coarse-ground black pepper.

Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola
And Honey – Bring cheese to room temperature and crumble. Spread on toasted bruschetta and drizzle with honey.
And Port Wine – Bring cheese to room temperature and crumble, add a small amount of melted butter, a little port wine to make a spreadable paste. Spread on toasted bruschetta and top with apple or pear slices. 
Other Blue Cheese suggestions – Bring cheese to room temperature, spread on toasted bruschetta and use one of the following garnishes: chopped toasted walnuts or pecans, tiny diced apple or pear, or cranberry sauce.

Purchased Pate - Bring pate to room temperature. Spread on toasted bruschetta and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and a drop of fresh lemon juice.

Sweet Pepper Crostini with Fontina Cheese – Arrange purchased roasted red bell pepper strips atop toasted bruschetta. Sprinkle with grated fontina cheese and broil until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

Feta Spread with Ouzo or Pernod – Crumble feta cheese into a bowl of a food processor. Begin to process the cheese and slowly add some extra-virgin olive oil. Blend until completely smooth. Add a few drops of Ouzo, Pernod or any licorice-flavored liqueur and some freshly ground black pepper. Process until incorporated. Spread on toasted bruschetta and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

Strawberry Bruschetta - Spread softened butter over the toasted bruschetta. Arrange sliced strawberries over the toasts. Sprinkle the strawberries with sugar. Broil until the sugar begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately. If you have a Brulee torch, you can use it in place of the broiler. The torch makes it really special. This is a sweet bruschetta but don’t hesitate to serve it along-side a savory one.

Strawberry Preserves and Goat Cheese – Spread toasted crostini with softened goat cheese. Top with strawberry preserves. Sprinkle preserved with freshly ground black pepper. 

6 comments:

  1. Wow. What great appetizer ideas. They all look fantastic. Happy holidays.

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  2. These look really pretty and festive. Happy holidays!

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  3. Pam and Sara, thank you both for the kind comments. You both have gorgeous food blogs that I visit frequently and have added your links to my list of food blogs for my readers to enjoy.

    I encourage everyone to visit your blogs: Pam - For the Love of Cooking and Sara - Sara's Kitchen.

    Thanks for visiting My Carolina Kitchen.
    Sam

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  4. Sam, these are interesting and delicious looking recipes for appetizers. I will try them and I'm sending this link to my sister who wants new ideas for appetizers for a party she is having.
    I enjoy your blog.

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  5. Glenda, I'm glad you enjoy my blog and thank you for sending the link to your sister. Appetizers, for me, have been some of the hardest things to plan for a dinner party. I always plan the entree first, then the dessert and the appetizers last and sometimes it is challenging to get them to fit in with everything else. I did a book (of sorts) of appetizers a couple of years ago and gave them as Christmas presents to our friends and these were some of the ideas in the book.
    Sam

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  6. MMMMMM...simple yet so yummie flavours here,....mmmmmmm....

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Sam