Tag Archives: appetizer

Dinner Idea:: Mussels in Wine

Easy yet elegant entertaining is something I like to think I specialize in. I love serving guests unexpected, unique meals that make them smile. One of my favorite ways to do just that is to serve mussels in wine.

Don’t be intimidated to cook mussels at home. It’s actually quite simple. Plus, you’ll inevitably wow your guests. They’ll be so impressed with your skills, and the presentation can be truly lovely. Just toss everything in a huge white bowl and serve the mussels family style.

This recipe is one of my favorites. Be sure to serve this dish alongside plenty of french bread for soaking up the goodness!

Mussels in Wine

You will need:
– 3 lbs mussels
– 1 small shallot diced
– 1 small clove of garlic minced
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 cups white wine*
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
– 1 cup marinara sauce (jarred sauce is fine, but here’s a pro-tip: leftover homemade sauce from the freezer is perfect for this recipe!)
– 1 cup chopped parsley

*Note: I always choose a cooking wine the same way I choose a drinking wine. If I wouldn’t drink it, I wouldn’t cook with it!

To prepare:
In a large stock pot, place shallots, garlic, oil and salt. Saute until the shallots are translucent. Add mussels, wine and butter. Cook until mussels open, discarding any mussels that have not opened. Add marinara, pepper flakes and parsley. Serve with crusty french bread.

 

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Easy Appetizer:: Salami Puffs

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The summer issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME had so many fantastic appetizers for throwing your own backyard Italian apperitivo party. We sipped on spritzes and noshed on nibbles like olives. Today, I’m sharing another fabulous recipe from the party: salami puffs.

This easy appetizer pulls together in no time. While I’m not necessarily a football gal, I know many of you are getting ready for tailgating. This would be the perfect addition. Think of it as pigs-in-a-blanket’s chic older sister…but better!

The recipe calls for cream cheese which is always a winner. Fun fact: in Italy, cream cheese is simply called “Philadelphia.”

Salami Puffs
serves 12

You will need:
– 12 slices Genova salami slices cut in half
– 1 sheet puff pastry
– ½ cup cream cheese

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Thaw the puff pastry, and unroll on a board covered in parchment paper. With
a rolling pin, roll the pastry into a 12-by-12-inch square. Then, spread the cream cheese on top of the puff pastry. Cut the pastry with a sharp knife into 3-by-3-inch squares. Place a salami half on top of each pastry square, then fold corners of the square together over the salami until they meet in the center, forming a small pouch. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve at room temperature.

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Tomato Week:: Two Bite Parmesan Crisps

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These lovely little two-bite parmesan crisps are savory and salty with a crunch—perfect to serve with a chilled citrus-y glass of Prosecco or Rose. It’s a quick appetizer that uses parmesan cheese with a combination of tomatoes – tomato jam to be exact.

The tomato jam here is the star of the show, but you’ll love the addition of mozzarella and basil too. These bites make a great addition to any menu for a summer soiree.

Two Bite Parmesan Crisps
Makes about 32

For the Tomato Jam:
You will need:
– 3  tablespoons olive oil
– 1 garlic clove, chopped
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 4 large heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:
Place ingredients into a medium pot over medium heat for 15 minutes, set aside to cool. This step may be done a couple days in advance, and placed in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to use.

For the Parmesan Crisps:
You will need:
– 8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
– Place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on a cookie sheet fitted with a silpat.
– Arrange the spoonfuls about 3 inches apart as they will spread to form round crisps.

To prepare:
Place in a 350 F degree oven for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before assembling the appetizer.

To assemble:
– 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
– 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Place a dollop of  jam on top of the crisp, and add cubes of mozzarella and garnish with a basil leaf.

From my book Picture Perfect Parties RIzzoli NY

 

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Delicious Cocktail Italiano Appetizer:: Eggplant Camponata

 

If you’ve received your copy of Cocktail Italiano, you now know that it’s not only filled with cocktails but also delicious appetizers. In the section on Imperia, an industrial town along the coast, you’ll find three classic cocktails and several nibble recipes. This eggplant camponata is one of them. Camponata is one of my favorite, stand by appetizers. It’s creamy, spicy, salty, and of course, eggplant-y. It’s divine.

I like to serve mine with thin crackers or crostini, along with arugula and grape tomatoes. Plate it all with a touch of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the best olive oil you have. Enjoy!

Eggplant Camponata

This has been my favorite tried-and-true apero recipe for many years. I make a lot, and I keep it in the fridge for unexpected guests. It’s also an amazing topping for pizza, another great aperitivo snack!

You will need:

– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped
– 4 cups of cubed eggplant, skin on (1″ cubes)
– 1 cup chopped tomatoes
– 1 cup chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup capers
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 cup tomato sauce (from a jar is fine, unless you have homemade hanging around)
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste
– Parmesan cheese for garnish
– Crispy crackers or flat crostini (find this recipe in Cocktail Italiano, too!)

To prepare:

In a large pan, saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add all other ingredients, except Parmesan cheese. Cover and stir frequently, so camponata does not stick. Saute on low heat until combined and soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Serve as a warm appetizer on crisp crackers and plate with arugula and tomatoes. Enjoy alongside cold white or sparkling wine with friends.

xx Annette

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Spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween

SpookyCharcuterie4 I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches' fingers.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am taking over the blog today to bring you a spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween. Annette and I both love Halloween, and every year, I am lucky enough to get to put together a festive post for the blog. You might remember my skull floral arrangement from last year (and if you missed it, go check it out!). Basically, I love any excuse to get a little creative in October.

One of the things that I enjoy doing every year is hosting my friends for a Halloween gathering. My birthday is just two days before Halloween, so it’s perfect timing for a soiree. Here’s the thing about my friends: every party we have, big or small, involves a charcuterie of some sort, and with Halloween right around the corner, I decided to put an eerie twist on this classic appetizer.

Over the years, Annette has done some pretty phenomenal charcuterie spreads, and she even has a step-by-step guide to creating one yourself. I used her post as a starting point for my grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to make a shopping list directly from her post.

SpookyCharcuterie1 The "cauldrons" are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the "witches broom" breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

To add a spooky spin, I picked up a few treats from World Market. When I saw this piece of slate, I knew it would be the perfect creepy base for my meats and cheeses. From there, I settled on a copper, chrome, and black color scheme. I grabbed a few tiny bamboo utensils because they reminded me of bones. I also picked up a few Halloween-inspired containers to hold all of the goodies, and a few little decorative pieces like the skull, rat, and tiny spiders to add some pizzazz.

One pro tip is to make sure that you get food-safe containers for your own spooky charcuterie spread. The “cauldrons” are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the “witches broom” breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

SpookyCharcuterie3 The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party!

As I shopped for remaining accoutrements, I kept the Halloween theme in mind. I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches’ fingers. I added dried apricots (a tip from Annette’s post) because they are a lovely shade of orange. I decided on prosciutto because it’s so fatty and veiny.

The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party! If you really want to carry the theme throughout, add some festive bottles of red wine. Prisoner is one of my favorites and quite on-theme, too!

Thanks for having me, Annette, and Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

xo, Nicole

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