Friday, July 6, 2012

Appetizers in a pinch

You know the frenzied felling all too well…the knots in your stomach return and your mind seems to be racing at 1,000 mph but you can’t seem to form thoughts? The moment you realize you have to bring an appetizer for a gathering and you completely forgot can be tantalizing. Thankfully, there are some tried and true recipes you can always rely on that will save you time to actually get yourself ready, too. 

First up, is also a kid-friendly idea: pigs-in-a-blanket. I have memories of helping mom make these as a kid. They require little production; just pick up mini-weenies and crescent rolls from the grocery store. They are always a great snack for young and old. Don’t forget to serve them with sauces for those munchers who like to dunk their pigies before chowing down. If you don’t have time to whip up homemade favorites, you can’t go wrong with BBQ, mustard & ketchup. 

Next, I always like to rely on a flatbread. Pillsbury has a pizza dough product right next to the crescent rolls in the refrigerated section that is perfect to make a quick flatbread when you’re in a pinch. The versatile thing about this recipe idea is you can alter the toppings and sauces for the guests taste! For example, my tomato-hating boyfriend came home to Tennessee with me for the Fourth of July and I made a fresh mozzarella and basil flatbread. Simple. Quick. And everyone loved it. The options are endless, but I like to have at least one appetizer present at a social gathering for vegetarians, so keep that in mind.

Finally, something that is a well-rounded appetizer is prosciutto crustini. It takes a bit to make, and requires prior planning. But if you’re on you’re a-game, try it out! We also served this for July Fourth poolside snacks, and I think my mother ate half of them by herself! This appetizer includes sliced French bread, homemade fig preserves, goat cheese, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and balsamic glaze. 

The method of production is simple if everything is already cooked. You can find bottled balsamic glaze, but I prefer to make it myself. Despite how much the vinegar stinks up the kitchen till your nostrils and eyes burn, it tastes better and I like to control the sugar content. But to each their own. I also like to make the fig preserves, and haven’t found a market where you can buy it. It’s easy though! I take dehydrated figs and cut the stems off, then chop them up into teensy pieces. Next, I place them in a small saucepot with ½ C. water and 1 C. sugar. I start the heat on medium to medium-high until all the sugar is dissolved, then crank it up to a boil for about five minutes. 

When it’s time to build the appetizer, I find it best to stack in this order: goat cheese, fig preserves, then prosciutto, and that’s all for now. Bake on the sliced French bread in the oven on 375 degrees till the crustinis are toasted and the prosciutto is a little warm. When you pull them out of the oven, add the caramelized onions next, then drizzle the balsamic glaze. When you’re about to serve, garnish with chopped chives. 

If you have zero time and don’t have any of these ingredients on hand before your event, you can always grab cream cheese, shredded cheddar and canned crushed pineapple, mix together and roll in whatever crushed nuts you can find to make a cheese-ball and call it a day. 

Happy frantic event cooking!

No comments: