Summer is cocktail party time. Here are but a few easy to make (even easier to eat) “nibbles” for a cocktail party. Start with a large platter of fresh garden vegetables. Cucumbers, cherry/grape tomatoes, scallions, radishes, multicolored carrots, blanched green beans, zucchini sticks, or your favorite veggies. Set baskets of multicolored vegetable or corn chips, pita bread and baby lettuce leaves for the non-carb guests around the dips and spreads. Scatter bowls of salted nuts on the bar and stuff narrow vases or water tumblers with cheese straws or Italian bread sticks (Grissini.)
Being a fan of guacamole, this is my favorite recipe for this season! What differentiates this recipe from all the others? Same ingredients but different preparation.
The secret to this white bean dip is steeping the beans in garlic and oil before puréeing them. It’s a delicious alternative to hummus, a staple at most cocktail parties.
Goat cheese spread is super tasty … guests will ask, “What’s in this?” Top roasted vegetables with leftover spread and serve it as a side dish or slather it on a sandwich.
An attractive and refreshing addition to a cocktail party is a platter of melon kebobs. Check out this recipe for a secret ingredient. For a self-service bar, stuff bottles of wine, seltzer, and beer into buckets of ice.
Guacamole 2019(Yields about 2 cups)1 medium white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper with seeds, cored, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Hass avocados, ripe, firm, cubed
Freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
Handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped or more to tasteTo prepare:For the base of the guacamole, remove jalapeño core but use the seeds and mince together. Working in a mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on a chopping board, pulverize the onion, jalapeno, salt and cilantro together until it is a moist paste.
Transfer the base to a bowl or if the mortar and pestle bowl is big enough to hold it, add avocado chunks and crush only enough avocado to make it into a dip versus a “salad,” while leaving some cubes whole. Add lime juice and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in cilantro and serve at once.
Note: If making ahead, push the avocado pits into the center and press plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole to prevent discoloration. Goat Cheese Spread(Yields about 2 cups)
8 ounces full fat goat cheese (Chevre)About 5 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1 lime, zest grated
Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste (1 to 2 limes)
8 sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, roughly chopped
5 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Baby arugula for garnish To prepare:Working in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade, add cheese, arugula and lemon zest. Process until the arugula is finely chopped. Taste, add lemon juice, sundried tomatoes, and scallions. Process until creamy and add salt, pepper.
Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until about one hour before serving time. Garnish the bowl with arugula and set a small bowl of arugula alongside for guests to garnish each bite.White Bean Dip(Yields about 2 cups)2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for steeping
1 large lemon, zest grated
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
4 anchovy fillets, minced (if desired)
2 tablespoons or more finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, chives, thyme, parsley)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes or more to taste
Approximately 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for blending and drizzling
Sprigs of herbs for garnishTo prepare:In a saucepan over moderate high heat, add beans, garlic and one-quarter cup oil. When bubbles appear around the edge of the pan (nearly a boil) set pan off the heat and steep the beans about 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients. When the beans are room temperature, strain out the beans and garlic, and reserve the oil.
In the food processor bowl fitted with the steel blade, add beans, garlic, lemon zest and half of the juice, anchovies and blend until chunky. Add herbs and through the feeding tube add lemon juice and reserved steeping oil plus more if necessary, and process until smooth and fluffy. Taste, add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Adjust the seasonings and texture with oil and/or lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until about one hour before serving time. Drizzle olive oil on top of the dip and garnish with sprigs of herbs. Melon Kebobs(12 to 28 kebobs with extra)One seedless watermelon or combination of cantaloupe and honeydew
1 cup Kalamata olives, drained
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sumac (found in spice section of grocery store)
4 limes cut into wedges for garnishTo prepare:One day ahead, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cut olives in half, pat dry with paper towels and scatter over small parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake until dried and crisp about one hour. Completely cool and transfer to a bowl, breaking up the dried olives into powdery bits. Stir in sumac and sesame seeds. Can be stored in clean glass container up to one month.
Wash the melon rinds with white vinegar and water mixture. Cut in half, remove seeds if necessary and cut off the rind. Cut melon into bite-size cubes. Slide melon cubes onto skewers and arrange skewers on a platter. Garnish the platter with lime wedges and sprinkle a pinch or two of the olive mixture over the kebobs.
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