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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Appealing appetizers – on the grill or in the oven

Tags: Food
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Hors d’oeuvres, it is said, are all about stimulating the appetite. Well, nothing curbs your appetite as well as your enthusiasm faster than ho hum, run-of-the mill appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres literally means “outside the work,” which gives the hostess the liberty to serve appetizers that have no relation to her main course. Toasted bread slices (crostini, in Italian) are the perfect vehicle to whet your guests’ appetites and to stir up some excitement in the kitchen. Better yet, why not make those pretty and tasteful morsels on the barbecue? The following recipes all take advantage of your outdoor grill, although they can easily be made under a broiler or in a preheated 400-degree oven as well.

GRILLED CAPRESE CROSTINI

1/2 ciabbata loaf, cut in half horizontally (about 10-in. long)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
2 small tomatoes, sliced
4 oz. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Mash together the butter, garlic and basil in a small bowl. Spread evenly on top of each ciabbata half. Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on top of the butter. Top the tomatoes evenly with the mozzarella.
Grill the loaves directly on a preheated grill set over medium-high heat (or on a baking sheet in a preheated 400-degree oven) for about 6 minutes or until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted.
Drizzle the vinegar over the cheese. Slice into individual portions. Makes 4 servings.

A PEACH OF A CROSTINI

Fresh peaches last well into Indian summer, so why not feature them at the beginning of the meal. Paired with a sweet and herby Greek yogurt and topped with a peppery sprinkle, these crostini are well-suited to any meal that may follow.

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12  slices French bread, cut diagonally
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp. honey
pinch each salt and pepper
3 small ripe peaches
cracked black pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the oil and garlic. Brush over one side of the bread slices.
Grill the bread slices, oil side up, on a preheated grill set over medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned around the edges. Remove from the grill. (Or toast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes.)
In a separate small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mint, honey, salt and pepper. Dollop evenly on top of the grilled bread slices. Cut peaches in half; remove the pits. Slice thinly. Arrange two to three slices on top of the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper.Makes 4 servings.

MEXICAN CROSTINI

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 slices French bread, cut diagonally
1 cup surimi or fake crab
3 tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
2 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsp. finely chopped green onions
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch salt
fresh coriander leaves

In a small bowl, stir together the oil and garlic. Brush over one side of the bread slices.
Grill the bread slices, oil side up, on a preheated grill set over medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned around the edges. Remove from the grill. (Or toast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes.)
In a separate bowl, stir together the surimi, mayonnaise, coriander, green onions, lime juice, pepper and salt. Mound evenly on top of the grilled bread slices. Garnish each crostini with a fresh coriander leaf. Makes 4 servings.

 CROSTINI WITH GRILLED AVOCADO

You may not have thought of grilling avocado before, but I can assure you that this fruit takes exceptionally well to heat. Brushing the avocado halves with a touch of oil before grilling not only ensures they won’t stick but helps prevent the avocado from discolouring, much like an acid would.
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tsp. for the avocado)
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 slices French bread, cut diagonally
1/2 cup prepared red pepper hummus
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 ripe avocado

In a small bowl, stir together the oil and garlic. Brush over one side of the bread slices.
Grill the bread slices, oil side up, on a preheated grill set over medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned around the edges. Remove from the grill. (Or toast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes.)
Cut the avocado in half, remove and discard the pit. Brush the remaining 1 tsp. of oil over both cut sides. Place the avocado, cut side down, on the grill (or on a grill pan). Grill for 2 minutes or until the cut side has grill marks on it and is warmed throughout.
In a bowl, stir together the prepared hummus, red pepper and feta. Spread evenly on top of the grilled bread slices. Slice the warm avocado into thin strips. Arrange the strips decoratively on top of the hummus mixture. Makes 4 servings.

 

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