Bite-sized bonanza! Small foods smorgasbord! Petite party treats!
Whatever you want to call it, my offering for this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event is a selection of little dishes, all intended to be eaten in a single bite (or two!). Flatware-free eating, to encourage mingling at a fun little soirée.
I have a tendency to be super indecisive about what I want to eat at any given time (Bacon! Pesto! Cheese! Fried food! Cake! Did someone say bacon?), so I’m a giant fan of tapas, dim sum, and small plates in general. Lots of little bites, packed with flavor = the way to go.
And when I’m hosting? I want to show off my favorite flavors and play around with new techniques, but I also want to enjoy the party. So, without further ado: Dinner in Miniature, a selection of bite-sized treats for an evening get-together without the formality of a sit-down meal.
Infused olive oils pair with bread, fresh mozzarella, and grissinetti to make a dipping tray worth gathering around.
Wanna make these hot-infused oils?
Start by selecting a flavor (I went with fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper, fresh basil, but you can get creative and try your favorite herbs and spices — or a blend). Pour a small amount of olive oil (2-3 tbsp) into a saucepan, and heat on low until the oil starts to bubble a bit. Add in a few herb leaves (or a few shakes of dry spices), and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat before the spices turn brown (trust me — this does not smell good), and pour into a bowl or serving dish. Strain the oil if the herbs and spices are too large, or if you prefer a clear oil for dipping — I like to leave a bit of the herbs in, just to indicate what the flavor is. Pour in a tablespoon at a time of plain olive oil, taste-testing until the infusion is just right. Need more oil for lots of dipping? This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or expanded as large as you need; just keep the ratios consistent with your favorite small batch.
To Eetch Their Own
Okay, so maybe this one requires more than one bite, but I’ve been dying to use the tomato-as-a-bowl thing for a while now.
I borrowed the eetch recipe from my great aunt Rose (also known as AR). Eetch (which has a Wikipedia entry!) is one of my favorite Armenian dishes. It’s excellent served cold, almost like a bulgur salad — it’s refreshing, and provides a nice, cool contrast to the heavier, warmer plates. Want AR’s recipe? Click here.
Everything’s Better With Bacon
Next up: a duo of bacon-wrapped goodies.
Scallops are a favorite, but they’re even nicer when wrapped in a bacon jacket.
These couldn’t be easier to make:
Season fresh scallops with salt and pepper. Wrap each with half a slice of thick-cut bacon, and secure with a toothpick (tip: soak the toothpicks in water before assembling to prevent burning in the oven). Broil for a few minutes, watching closely to make sure the bacon doesn’t burn. Flip each piece over, and continue to broil until the bacon is done (but not overcooked!) and the scallops are opaque.
More bacon-wrapped goodness:
Dates + almonds + goat cheese + bacon = win. Savory, sweet, and creamy, all at the same time.
The assembly line on this one is pretty easy, too. Slice bacon in half, slice dates in half, stuff dates with goat cheese and wedge almonds inside, close dates, wrap in bacon. Broil until the bacon is cooked.
Don’t Be Crabby…
Or do! These little mini crab cakes aren’t overloaded with breadcrumbs or fluff — the emphasis on crab makes them a little bit heartier.
Served in a ramekin with a slice of lemon — simple and perfect.
These guys are super easy to fry, and are done in minutes! (this recipe is also a bit too long for this post, but it’s inspired by the crab cake recipe in How To Cook Everything…check back soon, when I’ll change this text to a link to a new post with my recipe!)
In shot glasses, of course!
Keeping with the one-bite theme, these bright-colored beverages were served in individual portions.
Blue: a citrusy blue “lemonade” with citron vodka and blue curacao.
Red: a cran-apple liquid Jell-o shot, made with cranberry-flavored gelatin (un-set), vodka, and apple schnapps.
Green: a shot that I like to call the “starburst,” due to its similarity to the candy of the same name. Vodka, peach schnapps, apple schnapps, lemon juice, lime juice, cranberry juice, and sugar.
And after all of those savory treats: little pancakes, stuffed with mascarpone and chocolate hazelnut spread.
They look a little bit like cornbread, but they’re really dessert! Also…I couldn’t help myself when I saw the special stuffed-pancake pan at Williams-Sonoma. I snagged the batter recipe when I bought the pan — it’s super light and fluffy (and also huge…definitely one to pare down). Mastering the filling part was a bit of a challenge, and I definitely spent some time cleaning melted chocolate hazelnut spread off the stovetop, but it was completely worth it!
So…take a bite. Or several!
Thanks, FoodBuzz, this was an awesome time :)