Love cocktails? Appetizers? Stress-free entertaining? Then you will love the appetizers from my latest YouTube video, “Cocktails in the Parlor. ” The appetizers in question can all be made ahead of time. This means that you, the host who might also have to wear the hats of cook, butler, and scullery maid, can be a guest at your own cocktail party!
And speaking of parties. Fox and I have found that the easiest and often the most satisfying way to entertain a couple of guests is to invite them to our home for “Happy Hour.” Gathering for drinks and nibbles is a great way to foster conversation. And as I explained in the video, all you need is some comfortable seating, some delicious eats, and some cheeky drinks!
Bean Dip with Fresh Rosemary and Sage. Besides its use as an appetizer, this zippy lemon-and-herb dip makes a fabulous pasta sauce. Just thin it out with extra olive oil, and then toss it with linguine or some other pasta that floats your boat. The dip improves in flavor after it has chilled in the fridge for 12-24 hours. At our party, I served the dip with crackers and crudité.
Bean Dip with Fresh Rosemary and Sage
- 1 15.5 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 clove of garlic (or more, to taste)
- The juice of 1/2 a lemon (or more, to taste)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Grinds of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons coarsely-chopped fresh rosemary needles
- 7 medium-large sage leaves, roughly chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Put the beans, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, black pepper, and herbs in a food processor. Pulse the machine a few times to break up the beans and garlic. Then turn the machine on while you add enough olive oil to achieve a thick, rich paste.
- Scoop the dip into a boil, cover with cling film, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Serve with crudité and/or crackers.
Salami in Puff Pastry. This classic appetizer looks and tastes far greater than the sum of its few parts. You can assemble and refrigerate it several hours ahead of time, just as I do. Thirty minutes before guests arrive, simply brush the top with beaten egg, pop it into the oven, and then cut it into bite-size rectangles.
Salami in Puff Pastry
- 1 sheet cold, store-bought puff pastry dough
- 2 generous tablespoons (stone-ground, Dijon, or both)
- 1 generous teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 12 thin slices Genoa salami
- 1 cup shredded Swiss, Gruyere, or Jarlsberg cheese
- 1 beaten egg
- On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into an 11x14-inch rectangle. Transfer the rectangle to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Spread the mustard over the lower half of dough, keeping a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle the dried herb evenly over the mustard, then layer on the salami. Top the salami with the cheese.
- Paint a one-inch strip of egg wash all around the pastry. Then fold the upper half of the pastry over the filled lower half, and press the edges to seal. Pop the works in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450°F. Paint pastry top with beaten egg, and cut three venting slits into the top.
- Bake until the pastry puffs and browns dramatically -- 20-25 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes before the cutting the pastry into 15 2-inch by 1-inch rectangles. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cucumber Cups. No printable recipe required here, as Cucumber Cups are indeed easy to make! You can make them up to 2 hours ahead of serving time.
Directions: Slice a hot house cucumber into rounds that are approximately one inch thick. Use a melon baller to scoop out an opening, or “cup,” in each round. Fill with deli salad (egg, tuna, chicken) or hummus. If you are flush with cash, you can fill the cups with crème fraiche and caviar. Garnish with pimiento. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Serve cold.