Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Appetizers

When having friends or family over for a pre-dinner cocktail, it's best to serve a small appetizer, which both enhances the flavor of the drinks and also puts some food in your guests so the alcohol doesn't go straight to their heads.  In last summer's postings I included my recipe for Bruschetta and I continues to serve it this year.  Recently with eight guests for dinner, I served up three bite-sized appetizers; just enough to whet the appetites of my guests.  In addition to the Bruschetta, I served pesto bites and stuffed endive.

Pesto Bites
Certainly both recipes are simple but the pesto is extraordinarily so.  Simply make pesto as you normally would (see my post for Pesto Pasta two weeks ago) and on a dry bite-size toast, place a piece of high-quality shaved Parmesan cheese.  Spoon a bit of pesto sauce on top and they are ready to serve.  If you want to dress them up, add a tiny piece of pimento as a garnish.

Stuffed Endive
For the stuffed endive, I procured both white and red endive.  After carefully washing each leaf and trimming the end to improve appearance, I  made a chutney of roasted corn and black beans.  You could easily purchase something similar (perhaps salsa) and it would be just as good.  My chutney was a bit on the spicy side, which goes well with cocktails, but to cool it down a bit and to add some texture, I spooned a small amount of plain creamy yogurt onto each endive leaf.  Then I added the chutney and topped them with some crispy pan-fried Pancetta (Italian bacon, finely diced) and some shaved Parmesan

For all of the above appetizers you can prepare most of the ingredients before your guests arrive and simply assemble when you are ready to serve your cocktails.

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