Tag Archives: appetizer

A Simple Appetizer…Savory Dates

datesThe best appetizer for me is an easy one. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and play around with complicated recipes. However, when I’m having people over, which is usually when I am whipping up an appetizer, I want something simple but impressive so I can be sure the rest of the meal is as equally impressive.

For an appetizer, I want something with different textures and flavors. Maybe sweet and savory, or creamy and crunchy, and this recipe definitely accomplishes just that. The sweet, soft dates are the perfect accompaniment to the creamy, savory blue cheese. To round out the textures, salty, crunchy pistachios are added on top. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect for any occasion!

pistachioFor the dates, you want whole and pitted dates for ease of eating. I just grabbed the generic brand from Wegmans. However, for the cheese, this needs some extra attention. I wanted a blue cheese that had a lot of flavor, but was also creamy so it could be spread on the dates. The perfect choice is Gorgonzola dulce. It’s a creamy blue cheese from Italy, and I prefer the sweeter version, dulce. However, you could substitute if you don’t like blue with maybe a goat cheese or even soft brie.

finished productThe final ingredient you need is pistachios. I used whole, lightly salted Wonderful pistachios. And, my frugal nature, I bought the ones in the shell. Just be sure to remove the shells before assembly.

To assemble, spread some Gorgonzola on each date. Try to keep a flat side so they will stay upright, but that doesn’t always work out. Then just press 2 or 3 pistachios into the cheese. That’s it, easy and delicious. It almost seems like cheating to share that easy of a recipe! 🙂assortment

Tomato, Basil, Garlic, Olive Oil…Ah Bruschetta

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I love tomatoes.  I love them in all forms, cooked, raw, doesn’t matter.  And one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is in bruschetta.

Bruschetta is incredibly simple to make, and absolutely delicious.  And, because it’s all about fresh ingredients, it’s a perfect summer recipe.

Diced TomatoesTo start, find nice, ripe tomatoes.  I prefer the Roma or plum tomatoes for bruschetta because they aren’t as juicy.  Their texture holds up well.  However, really any tomato will do.  And if you have them fresh from the garden, well, they are always the best!  For this recipe I use 5 tomatoes.  And, you may remember a while ago me going on and on about ceramic knives for cutting tomatoes, but I really do taste a difference.  So if you have a ceramic knife, now is the time to use it.  Remove the seeds and dice the tomatoes and add them to a bowl.

Minced GarlicAdd to the tomatoes 3 garlic cloves, minced.  In traditional bruschetta, the garlic would be rubbed on the toasted bread, but I find this works well and is easier.  You want the mince to be pretty small to avoid people getting a huge piece of garlic.  Also, I should warn you, I love garlic, so you may find 3 cloves is a bit much for you, or you may want more.  Feel free to adjust.

To the tomatoes and garlic, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  I also add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.  I think purists would probably just stick with the olive oil and not include the vinegar, but I think it adds a great flavor to the bruschetta.

BasilFinally, add 6 basil leaves.  I chiffonade them.  Sounds impressive, right?  Well, it just means you roll the leaves up and cut them into strips. Now give the bruschetta a stir and you’re done.

I prefer bruschetta at room temperature.  Also, as it sits, the tomatoes release their juices, adding to the delicious liquid.  Serve the bruschetta with toasted sliced Italian bread.  Just grill the bread, or toast it on a cookie sheet in the oven.  The crispy bread Bruschettadoes a great job of soaking up the delicious juice.

Bruschetta makes a great appetizer, but it’s also a good side.  And it works well at barbeques or picnics.  I might whip up a batch for Memorial Day!  Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Easy Appetizer…Figs with Gorgonzola and Prosciutto

FigsI’m not sure about you, but the warm weather always makes me think of entertaining.  There’s something about sitting on the porch or deck, pulling out the grill, sharing food and drinks, that is just perfect for the warm weather.  But the last thing I want to do when I have guests over is spend hours in the kitchen while they are all enjoying each others company outside.  That’s why this bite size appetizer is perfect, it’s quick and easy to throw together, and bonus, it doesn’t involve the oven or stove!

Gorgonzola DolceThis may be one of the easiest recipes I ever write about.  It’s just so simple, but the flavors work so well together.  You may remember me ranting about my love of figs a few months ago…I do love them.  Here, the fresh figs are soft, sweet, juicy, and delicious.  They pair really well with the creamy, sweet/sharp blue cheese, Gorgonzola, and the salty ham, prosciutto.

So, as for the recipe, get ready…here goes.

Fig and GorgonzolaTake 8 oz fresh figs and slice off the woody stems.  Then, just cut each one of them in half.  Next, select the cheese.  I used Gorgonzola Dolce, which is a sweeter and milder blue cheese, but really any blue will do.  Take 4 oz Gorgonzola Dolce and slice it into small pieces.  Set the cheese on top of the figs, on the sliced side.  Then, wrap the figs and cheese with the prosciutto.  You’ll need about 3 oz sliced prosciutto.

So there you have it.  As promised, simple recipe for those warmer evenings.  Also, if you can’t find the Gorgonzola Dolce and use a different blue that might not be as sweet, or you just like things sweeter, you can always drizzle some honey over the cheese before you wrap the prosciutto around.  And if you don’t like blue cheese, feel free substitute whatever flavor combination you prefer. Enjoy!Finished Figs