My wife and I were sitting around talking tonight about future events that we may possibly host. It doesn't matter the occasion and the venue is just a space to hold people. Let's be honest, besides the reason for having the event the food and drinks are the most important thing. They help bring everything and everyone together. They start conversations, which is important when you have a group of people who do and do not know each other.
The best solution to a party or cocktail event is simple finger foods and the less you have to deal with an oven the better. It's easy to grab something and walk around and talk. It's easier still for the cook. You can plan ahead and prep ahead, sometimes a day prior. There isn't a lack of options either. You can run with a menu featuring crostinis, dips, tarts, kebabs and salads. Drinks can consist of punch, sangrias, cocktails and martinis. You're only limited by your imagination.
These are some of my favourite finger foods and appetizers. They always leave me filled with flavours dancing in my mouth and they definitely leave me wanting more. A little bit more. I've made and enjoyed: summer chickpea salad, prosciutto-wrapped bocconcini w/ pesto, grilled brie & tomato with arugula pesto on crusty bread, calamari w/ chile-lime salt, citrus salad, cantaloupe w/ serrano ham & basil, grilled corn, red onion & cilantro salsa, stuffed cherry tomatoes and the list really is endless.
Today I thought I'd share recipes for two of these great appetizers, Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto-Wrapped Bocconcini which I've made in the past.
Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes, 2 pints
Avocado, peeled and diced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. mayo (homemade or store bought)
8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, finely chopped
Season to taste
1. Cut a small slice across the top of each tomato and scoop out the pulp with a melon baller and discard pulp. Place tomatoes, cut sides down, on paper towels and let drain for 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine avocado and lemon juice in a small bowl to prevent discolouring. Stir gently and drain. Stir together mayo, bacon and green onions. Add the avocado mixture and stir gently until combined.
3. Spoon avocado mixture evenly into the tomato shells. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Season with salt & pepper to taste just before serving.
8 prosciutto slices
24 mini-bocconcini balls
1/2 cup pesto
2 tbsp. salt & pepper
1. Cut prosciutto into 4"x4" slices or one-thirds.
2. Take half of a teaspoon of pesto and spread on the prosciutto. Top with a bocconcini ball and season.
3. Fold or roll the prosciutto-wrapped bocconcini.
4. In medium-high skillet, place prosciutto seam-side down and cook 2-3 minutes. Wait until crispy and cheese begins to melt.
Here's a great cocktail to end the evening. The Happy Ending.
2 shots brewed espresso, cooled
1/4 cup half & half
1/4 cup Frangelico
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Shaved chocolate, garnish
1. Combine espresso, Frangelico, Grand Marnier in a shaker with ice. Shake well and pour into two glasses filled with ice.
2. Dust with cocoa powder and shaved chocolate over whipped cream and serve.