Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Need a Killer App

In the last month, we've been asked to bring an appetizer (oh, you were thinking technology, were you?) to at least two dinner parties. I have started to gain a repertoire of certain go-to recipes for a variety of dishes, but a fabulous appetizer is not among them yet. If I were allowed (Nathan is so picky!) to use something with puff pastry as a main ingredient, I would be set (super-tasty brie and raspberry tartlets, anyone?), but taking pastry off the table means that cheap and quick and "the best thing you ever put in your mouth" seem to go out the window.

The Food Channel c2009
For the first dinner party, we decided on prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, which I sort of guessed at since we had them at a catered party earlier this year. I roasted the asparagus in the oven after shaking the spears with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Then I wrapped them in prosciutto slices and refrigerated them overnight (later we decided the prosciutto needed crisping in the oven too, so we put them back in right before serving). Next time I make these, I will definitely try wrapping the prosciutto before roasting the asparagus because I think that will both save time and keep the asparagus a little more crisp.  This was a pretty easy appetizer, though I would recommend it for a small group as large amounts of prosciutto and asparagus can be expensive (especially when asparagus is not in season).

The most recent dinner that required appetizers was much bigger, so we needed to go bigger. After perusing many a cookbook (Nathan perused; I vetoed. No, we're not roasting chestnuts. No. No. Eh, too time consuming. No, I'm not going to attempt sushi for a Thanksgiving appetizer, sorry. Easy, babe, we're looking for easy.) We settled on stuffed cherry tomatoes (though cherry tomatoes were also not in season). Nathan picked three fillings: white bean puree, olive tapenade, and a bread mixture from the Martha Stewart Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook (yes, that meant quite a lot of ingredients and preparation, among them frying sage leaves to top the bean puree). I cored and scooped all of the cherry tomatoes. I made 60. It took awhile, but I got decent at it, and didn't wreck any of the tomatoes, although I'm sure Martha would not have approved of all of them, since some looked a bit raggedy. They were tasty, though not particularly inexpensive. I don't know if I will do them again anytime soon because the expense to prep time to tastiness ratio was (high? low?)...not what I was looking for it to be.

So that leaves us where we are now. Still looking for that illusive appetizer recipe. The one that elicits raves and leaves people eying the platter, contemplating licking it clean to get those last little bits. I'm worried that with the exclusion of puff pastry as an ingredient, it can't be found.


  1. I was going to suggest a crab appetizer, but you use pastry shells so I guess that's out. I can't make it anymore because Matt's allergic to shellfish. Stuffed mushroom caps are also tasty, but I have no idea what the prep time to tastiness ratio is. I guess I don't go to enough dinner parties because the buffalo chicken dip we make usually works for most things we are invited to.

    And what a clever title you sneaky girl! I thought it was going to be a post about technology!!

  2. I like peppadews as an appetizer. You can usually find them on an olive bar. They're somewhat similar to cherry tomatoes, but you don't have to hollow them out. Stuff them with a 50/50 mixture of cream cheese and goat cheese. Super easy! When I worked at Vanderbilt, we had our caterer make these and they were always gone. Good luck!