I can't let August end without hosting a Summer cocktail party, so this Friday we're gathering in the gorgeous garden of my sister's house to sip drinks and nibble snacks. The assorted menu of savory bites is 100 percent finger food that's both vegetarian and carnivore friendly.
Those who don't eat meat will enjoy crispy black-bean cakes with creamy guacamole. They'll also love crunchy tortilla chips topped with grilled corn and melted cheddar cheese and smooth flavorful grilled-veggie gazpacho.
Seafood aficionados are sure to go crazy for spicy Buffalo shrimp with blue cheese dip and celery. Finally, the meateaters' hunger will be satiated with grilled beef tenderloin on focaccia toasts. To check out these tasty warm-weather appetizer recipes,
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
2 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, 1 can drained but not rinsed, 1 can drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus whole leaves for garnish
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Dash hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 cup flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
- In a nonreactive bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar and cumin; season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the dressing and the avocados and mash until smooth; set the guacamole aside.
- In a food processor or blender, process the unrinsed black beans, the eggs, chopped cilantro, cumin, salt and hot sauce until combined. Stir in the flour and the rinsed black beans.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Working in batches, drop rounded tablespoons of the black bean mixture into the pan and fry, turning once, until crisp, about 4 minutes on each side; add more oil between batches if necessary.
- Top the black bean cakes with the guacamole and cilantro leaves.
- Appetizers, Finger Foods
2 ears of corn, husked
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 jalapeno chiles
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (1 3/4 cups)
24 tortilla chips, preferably lime-chili flavor
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for 3 to 4 seconds.)
- Brush corn with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill corn and chiles, turning occasionally, until grill marks appear and both are tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Cut kernels off cobs, and transfer to a medium bowl. Peel, stem, and seed jalapenos. Cut into 1/8-inch dice, and add to corn.
- Add scallion, cilantro, lime juice, and 1 1/4 cups cheese to corn mixture. Toss until well combined.
- Preheat broiler. Arrange chips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Top each chip with a tablespoon of corn mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over chips. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 30 seconds. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, and serve immediately.
Makes 2 dozen.
- Appetizers, Finger Foods
Thread jumbo shrimp onto water-soaked wooden skewers for easier grilling.
For the blue cheese dip:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
Salt and pepper
For the shrimp:
18 (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) jumbo shrimp, peeled, leaving last shell segment and tail fan attached, then deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's RedHot
1/2 bunch celery, cut into 4-inch sticks
- To make the blue cheese dip: In a bowl, stir together dip ingredients, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- To make the shrimp: Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (or medium heat for gas).
- Toss shrimp in oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grease grill rack, then grill shrimp (cover only if using a gas grill), turning once, until just cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes total.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together butter and hot sauce. Once shrimp is cooked, toss in sauce until well-coated. Serve shrimp with blue cheese dip and celery.
- Seafood, Appetizers
- Serves 6
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 large red bell peppers, cored and quartered
2 large yellow bell peppers, cored and quartered
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch slabs
2 ears of corn, husked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- Light a grill. Thread the garlic cloves onto a skewer. Lightly brush the garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, onion and corn with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the vegetables over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic and let steam for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove the garlic cloves from the skewers, peel them and transfer to a large bowl.
- Using a large serrated knife, cut the charred corn kernels into the bowl. Peel the peppers and add them to the bowl along with the zucchini, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper, tomato juice, orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar.
- Working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour the gazpacho into a clean bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
- Just before serving, stir the cilantro into the gazpacho. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the cucumber and serve.
- Vegetables, Appetizers
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads garlic
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 lemon, juiced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups good quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons hot chili paste
1 whole beef tenderloin*, about 6 to 8 pounds
2 loaves focaccia bread, sliced and toasted
Baby arugula, for garnish
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss the tomatoes into a roasting pan, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have collapsed, about 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
- Drizzle the garlic with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and bake it until soft, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft garlic onto a cutting board.
- Strip the needles from the rosemary, add them to the garlic, and chop them together. Pour 1 cup olive oil into a small bowl; add the garlic and rosemary mixture and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside until ready to grill.
- Char the outside of the pepper under the broiler or over a gas flame. Put it into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
- When cool enough to handle, peel, seed, and chop and put it into a blender. Add the mayonnaise and chili paste; process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made the day before.)
- Heat the grill. Remove the meat from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before you are going to grill it. Brush it with some of the flavored olive oil and season it generously with salt and pepper.
- Grill the tenderloin, turning frequently, until the meat is rare or medium rare, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a platter and let it rest for 5 minutes, brushing it with the flavored olive oil. Cut the beef into thin slices.
- To serve, put some of the flavored mayonnaise onto a piece of focaccia toast. Top it with a thin slice of the beef and spoon on some of the roasted tomatoes. Garnish with some arugula leaves and serve.
- Meats, Appetizers