Party Snacks: Appetizers and Amuse-Bouche

A few weeks ago I had a little ladies’ evening party at my apartment as an excuse to make a bunch of tasty tidbits. Obviously, I went into over planning mode all week, to accomodate both what I wanted to eat/serve, and also to make sure that the vegetarians and dairy-unfriendly folks could have an ample plate. With the lack of dining room space, I prefer to make a spread of finger or toothpick-friendly fare.

To start, baguette with some fancy dipping oil I lugged all the way over here in my suitcase last trip home from a specialty shop Boston’s North End, mixed with some fresh cracked pepper and snowflake-sea salt, and a bowl of vegetable sticks with homemade hummus and  miso dipping sauce to tide everyone over while I finished the final dishes.

After my first disastrous attempt to make hummus last year, I finally found managed to make it correctly.
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, simmer for about 45 minutes with a pinch of baking soda, which helps the skins slip right off. A 1/3 cup of sesame paste, about 1/4 cup of the boiling liquid plus generous amounts of olive oil, 3-4 cloves of garlic, and sea salt. Blend into a nice smooth face and finished off with another drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. I have no idea how I messed that up so badly the first time because this was delicious.

Next, I basically stole an open beetroot ravioli idea from Pinotage, and recreated it with a mix of homemade ricotta and mascarpone cheese. Roast beet for 45 minutes wrapped in tin foil and drizzled with oil at 200C. Let cool. Rub off the skin, and carefully cut thin slices. I wanted these to be an amuse-bouche, so I used small cookie cutters to cut small shapes. I mixed ricotta and mascarpone with salt and pepper, then filled a pastry bag and piped swirls onto the beet circles. Top with another beet circle, garnish with balsamic pearls (made by heating agar-agar and balsamic vinegar, and squeezing drops into freezer-chilled oil. For those who can’t or choose not to eat cheese, I mixed cashew cream with salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon zest. It wasn’t quite the same, the cashew cream has a bit of a smoky taste, but a decent vegan alternative.

Beet and Ricotta Ravioli with Balsamic Pearls

Beet and Ricotta Ravioli with Balsamic Pearls

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