Appetizers All Night


My back hurts. Really hurts. I have no idea how chefs stand for that many hours in a row. I just finished my most recent catering gig. This was with 80P’s mom again. I conducted many, many brainstorming conversations (thanks: Maids, Romeo, El, WestCoast, BS, 80P…) but because I’m so used to Eating Down the Fridge (using up ingredients in my fridge/pantry and not shopping for new food) that I could only fathom working with items already in my possession, or ones I knew I could pick up while working at the farmers market.

Fortunately, I was recently in Philly for work and had some spare time before dinner (ate at Monk’s–mussels, fries and stout–with BroadAndPattison). I found this adorable nut shack: Nuts to You.

I’m not even kidding, I was in that place for 45 minutes browsing the 4 aisle store filled with nuts, dried fruits, grains and candies. I  walked out with, and I’m still not kidding, FIVE pounds of food, which I then had to drag around as I wasted more time checking out Banana Republic, Lacoste, Williams-Sonoma (don’t get me started on their uni-tasker inventory; they have 6 instruments alone to peel and chop garlic) and this weird all-natural soap and lotion place with the perkiest staff of all time. Soap that smells like pine nuts and lavender, no thanks.

I left Nuts To You with: dried dates (pound), dried figs (pound), quinoa (pound), mixed bag of almonds, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts and walnuts (pound) and cashew butter (pound). Yes, not peanut butter, but cashew butter. And I saw them make it. There was this crazy looking glass machine with some peanut oil in it and the salesperson dumped a pound of cashews into the machine and then out oozed cashew butter. No salt, no preservatives, no corn syrup. Just nuts and oil. A-mazing.

Anyway, with that in the cupboard, here is what I proposed to 80P’s Mom:

  1. Dates and figs (either or both) stuffed with cheese (either ricotta, goat cheese or quark) and herbs. This can be served warm or room temp and can be stuck with a toothpick for serving
  2. Sweet potato disks with cashew butter and chili powder spread  ( Can spread the cashew butter on top of the chips or let people dip it)
  3. On a toothpick: cube of roasted winter squash, cube of feta, cube of squash
  4. Cucumber slice with Greek yogurt, lemon zest and quinoa
  5. Artichoke, olive and caper crostini
  6. Radish, cashew butter and broccoli (Or the broccoli can be cooked)

80P’s Mom selections after the jump.

She went with:#1, 4, 5 and then Parmesan crisps, frico, that I made for her last time.

But of course I had to change things up a bit.


Cucumber Disks with Honey, Gingered Yogurt and Toasted Sesame Seeds

Brush cucumber with local, organic honey (supposedly helps with allergies to eat local honey, via WestCoast) top with toasted panko (quickly mixed around in a pan with sesame and olive oil). Delicately dollop  Greek yogurt (mixed with freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, grated garlic, salt, pepper.) on the panko and top with toasted sesame seeds.


Artichoke, Olive and Caper Crostini

Courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen. I processed the mixture to a finer consistency (mostly because my mini-processor kinda sucks) but chopped up additional artichokes, olives and capers to lay on top for added texture. Purple basil ribbons are scattered over the slices of toasted baguette. *Just* before serving, crack fresh pepper over top. And yes, this is briny as hell. Terribly addicting.

Dates with Ricotta, Honey and Kosher Salt (see picture above)

Make a small incision in the dried date and twist the knife perpendicular to create an opening. With a small spoon stuff a mixture of ricotta, honey (both found at the farmers market) and kosher salt. Upon serving, sprinkle additional kosher salt and walnuts around and on top of the dates.

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  • TVFF October 22, 2009  

    I’m at Nuts two or three times a week…it’s half a block from my office. It’s our official source for all things snacks, particularly the big bags of popcorn and these “wild” gummy bears.

    It’s really easy to end up leaving with WAY more than you intended when you walked in.

  • 80PMom October 23, 2009  

    It was all just as delicious as it sounds. Thanks to Gansie for all the work– and to her co-conspirators on ES! The guests loved the food and Gansie. (And 80P’s appearance.)

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