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last minute hors d’oeurves inspirations

jalapeño shrimp cocktail

Buy a quarter pound of cooked, peeled medium shrimp for each guest you expect. For a party of 8 guests, pour one 6 to 8-ounce bottle of your favorite seafood cocktail sauce into a shallow bowl. Mix 1 tablespoon of pickled sliced jalapeños and 2 tablespoons sour cream into the cocktail sauce and serve with the shrimp and fresh lemon wedges.

parmesan breadsticks

Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange a single layer of store-bought plain breadsticks. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add a dash of freshly ground black pepper and bake the breadsticks for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Let the sticks cool and serve them with a simple, slightly chilled red wine or rosé.

tequila-soaked olives with blue cheese

Buy a jar of good olives and a hunk of blue cheese (I like Spanish Cabrales or French Roquefort). Toss the olives in a bowl with a splash of tequila and a squeeze of lime. Cut the cheese into small chunks and spear toothpicks with one olive and one blue cheese chunk each. Make up a batch of Margaritas Más Grandes (page 191) and say “olé!”

mozzarella bocconcini with hot pepper oil & basil

Look for tiny fresh bocconcini or ciliege (miniature balls) of mozzarella at your gourmet store. Drain them, place them in a shallow bowl, drizzle with hot chili oil, and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil. Provide toothpicks for picking up the cheese.

goat cheese with walnuts & honey

Buy a large slice of good goat cheese. Unwrap it and press one flat side of the cheese into a plate of finely crushed walnuts. Place the cheese on a pretty plate walnut side up and finish with a spoonful of clover honey and a crack of fresh black pepper.

mini salami focaccia melts

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Slice a store-bought focaccia loaf in half lengthwise. On the bottom half, drizzle extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange thin slices of salami (I like the slightly spicy soppressata), and top the salami with shredded mozzarella cheese. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on the top half of the loaf and place over the bottom half. Bake the loaf on a foil-lined baking sheet until the cheese melts, 8 to 10 minutes. Slice the focaccia into 2-inch squares and serve with Italian beer and good pickles.

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