Remember when Pastorio told us about his terrific clam chowder…canned
potato soup and canned minced clams? Well here are a few quick items to
consider when company drops by this weekend. These are a few of super easy
items and are my fall back things to serve if I have unexpected cocktail
company or just for us.

Tortellini skewers with Lemon Parmesan Aioli
1 pkg tortellini
2 ea. pears; ripe

Cook purchased fresh tortellini, then skewer, 2 to 3 per skewer. Serve with a dipping sauce of lemon parmesan aioli (prepared mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, a little minced garlic, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese whipped together). these can be tray passed or presented on a platter on a buffet.

Warm Brie and Pear Tartlets.
Fill purchased mini tart shells with a slice of brie and finely diced ripe pear. Sprinkle a little minced fresh thyme or lavender on each and drizzle lightly with honey. Bake in a 375F oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately

Skewered Bocconcini with Prosciutto. Start several hours before serving. Cut thick rosemary stems (stripped of leaves) into 3 inch lengths. Use the rosemary to skewer 1 to 2 bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls).

Wrap and set aside for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge. Cut very good procuitto into strips. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil, dash of balsamic vinegar, and ground black pepper. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before using. To serve, wrap each bocconcini with a marinated prosciutto strip.

Warm figs with gorgonzola and pecans. Cut ripe, fresh figs in half. dust lightly with sugar, place on a greased sheet pan and bake in at 400F oven for about 7 minutes, until the sugar begins to color. Remove from the oven. Use the back of a spoon to press a hollow in the center of each half. fill the hollow with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and top with a pecan half. When ready to serve, return to 350F oven for 5 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately. I also cut fresh figs into either halves or quarters depending on size and wrap in procuitto and either saute till procuitto is crisp or do under the broiler. These are always a hit.

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Rosettes Mash a ripe avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper and 1 to 2 tablespoons cream cheee or mascarpone. Set aside in the fridge. Cut very good smoked salmon into 4 x 1 inch strips. cut firm dark bread, such as German rye, into small squares. Wrap each salmon strip around the end of your finger, then sit this roll, standing upright on the bread. Drop a spoon of avocado mousse in the middle and gently spread the edges of the salmon back to form a “rosette.” Garnish with a sprig of dill or a sprinkle of cumin seeds.

Corn Muffins with smoked turkey and Jalapeno Jelly. Purchase mini corn muffins. Slice almost in half and spread one side generously with japapeno jelly and the other with softened butter. Fill with finely sliced smoked turkey breast and some watercress.

Domades (Stuffed Grape Leaves) Drain purchased dolmades.   Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. season with black pepper and minced cilantro, mint, or parsley; toss to coat. Garnish with roasted red peppers and pine nuts.

Lemon Basil Crostini
Slice a baguette into very thin rounds. Dry out on a sheet pan in a 300F oven for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree 2 tablespoons cream cheese, 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, pinch lemon peel, pinch sugar, pinch granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon minced basil, and salt and with pepper to taste. Spread generously on baguette slices and bake in a 350 F oven about 10 minutes, until bubbling and crispy.

Olivada with focaccia
In a food processor, puree 2 to 3 cups of plump pitted black olives such as kalamata. When smooth, drizzle in 2 to 3 tablespoons EVOO. Add a splash of Cognac and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper. Serve with sliced focaccia or baguette.

Fig and Blue Cheese Tarts
2 1.9 ounce pkgs frozen mini phyllo shells
1/2 cup fig preserves
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place phyllo shells in cups of miniature muffin pans. In a small bowl, combine preserves, walnuts, cream cheese and blue cheese, stirring to combine. Spoon mixture into shells. Bake for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until vinegar is reduced to 1/3 cup. Cool  for 10 minutes. Spoon vinegar reduction over tarts. Serve immediately. Makes 30 tarts.

Savory Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounce log goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup seedless blackberry jam*
Garnish fresh blackberries
Assorted crackers

Preheat oven to 325. Crust: In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs and 1/4
cup pecans; add melted butter, stirring to combine. Press mixture into bottom  and 1″ up sides of a 9″ spring form pan. Filling: In a small skillet, heat the  olive oil over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring frequently for 4  to 5 minutes or until crisp. Drain prosciutto on paper towels; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed with mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cream, beating  until combined. Spoon half of batter into medium bowl and stir in goat cheese.  Stir prosciutto into batter in original bowl. Spread prosciutto batter into  prepared crust. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 cup pecans. Spread goat cheese batter  over pecans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. Spread blackberry jam* over  cheesecake Garnish with fresh blackberries if desired. Serve with assorted  crackers. *I will use fig preserves because I have them and because I prefer fig with goat cheese.

Fat free vegan appetizers, dips and spreads

Almost-Instant Hummus Ghanoush

Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Artichoke Tapenade

Baba Ghanouj

Baba Ganoush Vegetable Plate

Baked Lime-Chipotle Tortilla Chips

Baked Spring Rolls

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes

Chinese Vegetarian Chicken with Simple Five-Spice Sauce

Chipotle Chickpea Dip

Cucumber Hummus

Ful Medames (Fava Bean Dip)

Gluten-Free Chickpea Crackers

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Lentils and Rice

Green Mango Chutney

Green Olive Hummus

Grilled Eggplant with Vadouvan-Cashew Cream Sauce


Kale Chips

Lotus Root Chips

Miang Kum Rolls

Microwave Potato Chips

Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches


Nasu Dengaku (Japanese Eggplants Broiled with Miso)

No-Queso Quesadillas

Polenta Crackers

Portabellas Stuffed with Pesto-Mashed Potatoes

Portabellas Stuffed with Red Pepper Hummus

Portabella Sushi Rolls

Roasted Chickpeas Two Ways

Roasted Eggplant-Almond Dip

Roasted Pecans

Roasted Tomato Bean Dip

Saintly Black and Gold Salsa

Shiny Happy Hummus

Smoky Chipotle Guacamole

Spicy Red Pepper Hummus

Spicy Roasted Eggplant Spread

Spooky Black Bean Hummus

Thai Seitan on Lemongrass Skewers