Tag Archives: appetizer

walnut pesto and white bean roasted red pepper dip

I love a good cocktail party. Hor d’Oeurves, wine, good company- it’s the perfect social gathering. I have people over all the time and I like to have easy appetizer recipes on hand if I need to put something together at the last minute. I’ve already featured the Artichoke-Olive Crostini, which is one of my all time favorite dips, but today I’m going to share with you two others which were a big hit when I made them for a dinner party at my house a few months ago.

Walnut Pesto

This is surprisingly delicious. Walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan all blend together to create a savory spread with a nice crunch from the toasted nuts.  This is definitely NOT your average pesto.

From Smitten Kitchen (where else?)

Makes a dozen or so toasts

1 cup shelled walnuts, even better if you toast and cool them first
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 sprigs of thyme, cleaned
Very small splash of sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes (oil or dry-packed will both work)
1 loaf country bread, or a baguette, sliced

In food processor, coarsely grind walnuts, cheese, garlic, thyme, salt and vinegar. Stir in oil and tomatoes.

Grill or toast bread. While hot, top each slice with a heaping teaspoon of pesto.

White-Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This is a easy and delicious dip that you can throw together with things you probably already have in the pantry!

Also from Smitten Kitchen

1 15-ounce can of white cannelini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 small jar roasted red peppers, or about 1 cup, drained
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree everything in a food processor (or blender) until smooth.

My friend Peter digging in

Bon appetit!

artichoke olive crostini

Artichoke olive crostini are another one of my favorite hor d’oeuvres that i’ve made multiple times and were a huge hit on new years eve.

They are so simple, only requiring a handful of ingredients and a food processor, yet they pack quite an intense bite.

I decided to make a bunch of baguette toasts (cut up regular and whole wheat baguettes, brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven for a few minutes), and then put out a variety of spreads: artichoke olive, bruschetta, spicy black bean, olive tapenade, and a garlic eggplant spread.

It worked perfectly for my cocktail party where everyone wanted easy food that they could eat with their hands, and it satisfied a variety of taste preferences.

Artichoke Olive Crostini courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup large green pitted olives (i couldn’t find canned green olives, so I got them at an olive bar from the supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • slices of toasted baguette

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a food processor, process the garlic, olives, capers, artichoke hearts and olive oil to a coarse paste.

only 3 ingredients!

2. Toast the bread on the oven rack for 6 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Spread the olive paste thickly over the toasts and serve.

Note: If made ahead of time, just let it come to room temperature before serving.

Let me know what you think!

Also, here’s a picture of my coffee table spread from my party, hopefully it will inspire you to host a party of your own!

a range of cheeses, crackers, olives, cornichons, pepper crusted salami, and rice crackers.


upside down mushroom tartlets

Happy new year!!!

I hosted a new years eve party for some friends, and this was one of the appetizers I made. I tested these out a few weeks ago when I hosted a Cornell Gourmet Club event at my apartment and they were a huge hit! Savory and delicious, warm with a nice flaky puff pastry underneath.

These look really fancy and impressive, but are actually extremely simple. I got the recipe from one of my favorite magazines, Everyday Food, when they did a feature on creative ways to use a muffin tin.

Upside Down Mushroom Tartlets courtesy of Martha Stewart

Makes 6

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into six 3-inch rounds (you can use a circle cookie cutter, or I used the bottom of a wine bottle and carefully cut a circle around it)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for muffin pan
  • 1 large shallot, diced small
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (i used a blend of fontina, and a few other cheeses, but really anything will work.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place puff pastry rounds in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while mushrooms cook.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft and browned, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in thyme and remove skillet from heat.

3. Lightly oil 6 jumbo muffin cups. Divide mushroom mixture and cheese among cups, then top each with a chilled pastry round. Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

full pan

chilled puff pastry rounds on top

4. Run a small knife around cups to loosen tartlets. Place a rimmed baking sheet or large plate over pan and invert to release tartlets (If you have a silicon muffin pan, releasing them will be easier). Sprinkle with more thyme. Serve warm.

finished product

These make a great appetizer/finger food for your next cocktail party. They could also make a great light dinner with a nice salad on the side.