March 27, 2023

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Quick and Easy Appetizers

by Fran Claro

As a rule of thumb, I keep a pretty good supply of almost-made appetizers on hand. Key is my having a loaf of thinly sliced French or Italian bread-a baguette-in the freezer. Using the bread as a base, creating brilliant appetizers is a piece of cake.

To cover the basic-bread-I go Mediterranean with appetizers that use tomatoes, olives, olive oil, tuna, or Italian and French cheeses. I become an Anglophile with hors d'oeuvres that use Stilton, cheddar, walnuts, port, and sherry. For an all-American approach, I rely on eggs, vegetables, ham, and bacon. And I have to shoo the kids away from the treats to have enough for the guests.

Bread Basics

24 slices Italian or French bread, thinly sliced

  1. Preheat broiler to 500 degrees.
  2. On a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan, arrange bread slices in one layer.
  3. Broil on first side for about 2 minutes or until lightly brown.
  4. Turn slices. Broil for about 2 minutes, until golden
  5. Place slices on wire rack to cool.

Tuna Spread

  • 1 can Italian tuna, packed in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion, either red or white
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sprinkle dried red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon scallions or green onions, finely minced
  1. Mash together all ingredients-except scallions, including oil that tuna is packed in-preferably, in a mini-chopper or by hand-to form a paste.
  2. Spread paste on cool toast rounds. Sprinkle with scallions. Makes 24.

Tomato Bruschetta

  • 1 cup ripe tomatoes, any variety, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil OR
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Spoon on toast rounds. Makes 24.

Three-Cheese Spread

  • 1/2 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can anchovies, packed in oil
  1. Have all cheeses at room temperature. Mix all cheeses together. Add enough olive oil to reach spreading consistency.
  2. Dice anchovies to yield 24 pieces.
  3. Spread cheese mixture on toast rounds. Top each round with a bit of anchovy. Makes 24.

Stilton-Bacon Spread

  • 3/4 cup stilton cheese, crumbled
  • 6 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish, well-drained
  • sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
  • 24 toasted walnut halves (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients, except walnuts.
  2. Spread mixture on toast rounds. Top each with a toasted walnut if desired. Makes 24.

Egg Salad Spread

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, (boiled for 5 minutes, resting in covered pan for 10 minutes, then chilled under running cold water), chopped
  • 1 scallion or green onion, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • sprinkle of dry mustard
  • sprinkle of cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients. Spread on toast rounds. Sprinkle with additional cayenne if desired. Makes 24.

Filet of Beef Rounds

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds filet of beef, well dried
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Stilton cheese spread (see below)
  • 24 capers, rinsed and dried (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In an ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle filet with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil.
  4. Transfer skillet to oven. Roast beef about 25 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. (You may do this a day ahead. Wrap cooked beef closely and refrigerate.)
  5. If just cooked, allow meat to rest, loosely covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Cut into 24 very thin slices. Stilton Cheese Spread: Mix 1/4 pound crumbled Stilton with 4 tablespoons of heavy cream until of spreading consistency.
  6. Place a slice of meat on each bread round. Top each round with some cheese spread. Add a caper on top of each if you desire. Makes 24.

About the Author

Fran Claro is a cook and contributing writer to Food & Crafts. She lives in Irvington, New York where she dreams up Italian feasts for her extended family.