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
Salt
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!

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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.

Enjoy!