Hors d’oeuvres

I attended a friend’s birthday party and these were a couple of simple but delicious hors-d’oeuvres that caught my attention.

The first and my favorite was cherry or perhaps grape tomatoes with mozzarella and fresh basil on skewers. The sweetness of the basil combined with the acidity of the tomatoes makes a delicious contrast. And any excuse for more cheese is a good one.
Cherry tomato
These are basically a Caprese salad on a stick, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

To make the balsamic reduction, use 1 cup balsamic vinegar to 1/4 cup honey. Put it in a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook, stirring once in a while until it’s reduced by at least half. This should take about ten minutes or so.

Let the sauce cool then drizzle it over the salad. -drizzle don’t drown- (It’s strange how much sauce Americans use compared to the rest of the world.)

At the party, these were the first of a large selection of hors-d’oeuvres to disappear, so be sure to make more of these than you think you’ll need.

Another simple, but tasty, hors-d’oeuvre was prosciutto wrapped around spinach and a small piece of fresh basil then lightly drizzled with the same balsamic reduction as the tomato/mozzarella sticks.
(sorry about the bad photo.)

Neither of these requires anything more than the best ingredients and a little time. but they’ll make your guests think you’re a culinary genius. Well, maybe not a genius, but at least they’ll think you’re a damn good cook.

Broccoli Cheese Bites

Broccoli Cheese Bites

Some years back if you went to TGI Friday’s you could get broccoli wrapped in cheddar cheese coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried.
Those, along with their Long Island Iced Tea, were pretty much the only reason I went to Friday’s.

Much to my dismay, they have long since been discontinued. Fortunately, thanks to one of their former bartenders, I know the secret ingredient…. It’s bacon bits. Yup, those dry crunchy things of unknown origin that taste almost but not quite entirely unlike bacon are what gives one of my favorite snacks their unique flavor.

They’re really easy to make.

sharp cheddar cheese
bacon bits
panko bread crumbs
1 egg
corn starch
broccoli –if you insist

You melt sharp cheddar cheese in a double boiler, add bacon bits and then coat small pieces of broccoli with the cheese.
–In fact, unless I have someone around that really insists on having broccoli I skip the green stuff altogether.

At any rate, wait until the cheese starts to cool then roll the mixture into bite-sized balls, dip the balls in cornstarch, followed by slightly beaten egg and then bread crumbs.
Deep fry them until they’re golden brown.

broccoli cheese bites

Add ranch dressing and a cold beer and you’re golden.