Recipe: Easy Peasy Summer Appetizer Party
Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.
Summer is the official party season on the East Coast. As each weekend rolls around, many of us find ourselves (me excluded since I’m always working) either attending or throwing a party. And no matter if it’s the former or the latter, food is involved. That said, it is summer and no one wants to spend long hours in the kitchen when they can be outdoors enjoying the long days and warm evenings. So despite my tendency to create elaborate menus, I have, due to my own time constraints, started to curate meals based on seasonal and simpler dishes that are still delicious and visually appealing. Easy doesn’t equate to bland in my kitchen. I’ve grown so accustomed to this practice, that I recently catered a dinner party based entirely on passed hors d’oeuvres which were presentable, flavorful and as filling as a multi-course dinner.
So now that we’re well into the summer season, I thought what better subject for this week’s blog than a menu based on dishes you can make in a snap and still look like a gifted chef and host. Or in the event you’re attending a party soon, any one of these recipes will travel well and make a terrific contribution to the evening ahead. Pick and choose or make all of these at once for a fast and fun summer party. Enjoy!
Pancetta, Chive and Egg Tartlets
Savory and Spicy Gulf Prawn Skewers
Savory and Spicy Lam Lollipops
2 packages mini phyllo shells (frozen food section)
4 oz. thick cut pancetta cut into small dice
1 Tablespoon minced chives
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Gruyere
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, fry pancetta until crisp and browned. Set aside on a paper towel.
3. Mix eggs and heavy cream together. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add pancetta, Gruyere and chives. Stir until combined.
5. Remove fully-cooked phyllo shells from packaging and place on a cookie sheet. Gently spoon egg filling into shells making sure to evenly distribute pancetta.
6. Bake for 15 minutes until firm.
Makes 20 to 24
8 oz. thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
1 package bread sticks or Grissini
1. On the diagonal, wrap bread sticks with prosciutto and leave a finger’s width space to pick up.
2. Cut sticks in half and arrange on a platter with parsley or basil leaves for color.
Makes 24 skewers
8 oz. red cherry tomatoes
8 oz. yellow cherry tomatoes
Bunch of fresh basil
12 oz. mozzarella bocconcini
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbl. balsamic vinegar
Maldon Sea Salt Crystals
1. Alternate 1 red and 1 yellow tomato with a basil leaf and bocconcini until you’ve assembled all skewers.
2. Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. Make a round pattern of skewers on a platter, drizzle with olive oil mixture, and sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt Crystals.
Lisa’s Fab Marinade for the Lollipops and Prawns
Makes 1 ¼ cups or thereabout
3 garlic cloves minced
2 jalapenos minced
1 tbl. minced Italian Parsley
½ tbl. minced lemon thyme
1 tsp. minced tarragon
3 tbl. Sriracha
¾ cup good-quality olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbl. honey
Juice of one lemon
1. Whisk all ingredients together. Let sit for one hour at room temperature. Marinade is ready for use.
Savory and Spicy Lamb Lollipops
Makes 16 pops
2 8-ribbed Frenched racks of lamb (if there is still a fat pack on the rack, trim back so you don’t start a fire under the broiler)
3/4 cup Lisa’s Fab Marinade
1. Cut lamb into 16 individual pops.
2. Coat with marinade. Refrigerate for two hours.
3. Turn on broiler. Place lamb on a rimmed cookie sheet. Position sheet five inches below broiler. Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Turn and cook for an additional five minutes. Lamb should be pink and juicy. If you like it rarer, cook for less time.
5. Pour pan drippings into a ramekin and serve as a dipping sauce.
Savory and Spicy Gulf Prawn Skewers
Makes 20 to 24 skewers
Oven safe skewers
1 lb. large gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ of Lisa’s Fab Marinade (see recipe above)
1. Coat cleaned shrimp in marinade and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Skewer prawns individually.
3. Turn on broiler. Place shrimp skewers on a rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer. Broil for two minutes. Flip and broil for an additional two minutes.
4. Arrange on a platter and serve.