The best way to start an evening of entertaining with family or friend is with great drinks and an assortment of tasty "nibbly bits", simple appetizers that are full of flavor but easy to make. With outdoor entertaining just about here, this trio is a nice combination of flavors and perfect on platters for your balcony or patio. Elements for each of these recipes can be made in advance so you're not scrambling around the kitchen when your guests arrive.
Mini Jalapeño, Bacon and Cheese Bites
9 oz Bacon, cooked through but not too crispy, then drained on paper towels
2 cu All Purpose Flour
1/2 cu Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3 tbl Cold Butter, grated through a box grater, then kept chilled in the refrigerator
1 lg Jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
3/4 cu Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 cu Buttermilk
1 cu Panko Bread Crumbs, in a bowl
3 tbl Additional Butter, melted in a small container
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Finely chop bacon and set aside. Mix together flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add chilled butter and quickly mix with your hands until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bacon, jalapeño and cheese. Add buttermilk and mix until everything is just combined. Scoop out 1 tablespoon sized portions onto a work surface. Shape each into a ball and then roll in the bread crumbs to coat. Set coated ball on a baking sheet and space it about 2” away from other balls. You’ll need two baking sheets. Once you’ve formed and coated all of the balls, pour a tiny bit of butter on top of each. Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and pour a bit more of remaining butter on top of each ball. Cool a bit before serving.
2 large Garlic Cloves, peeled and cut in half
1/4 cu Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lb Plum Tomatoes, about 6 medium
5-6 Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Preheat broiler or a grill. Slice baguette at an extreme angle to create as much surface area as possible. Place slices on a baking sheet (or directly on your grill rack). Broil or grill until first surface is golden brown. Flip slices and brown the other side. Remove from heat and rub one surface with garlic. Lightly brush the same surface with olive oil. Set aside.
Separately, cut off the stem end of tomatoes and then slice in half. With a spoon or your fingers, remove and discard the seeds. Chop tomatoes into a small dice and place in a large bowl. Add remaining olive oil, basil leaves, salt and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine, taste for seasoning and adjust to your preference. Cover with plastic until ready to use.
Arrange bruschetta slices on a serving platter and spoon tomatoes mixture on top using a slotted spoon.
Smoked Turkey Deviled Eggs
1 dozen lg Eggs
3 oz Smoked Turkey
2 tbl Minced Shallots
1/4 cu Light Mayonnaise
2 tbl Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbl Fresly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tbl Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
1 tsp Chili Powder
Place eggs in a large pot. Fill with room temperature water to cover eggs by about an inch. Place pot over high heat and bring water to a boil. As soon as water starts to boil, remove from heat and cover pot. Let stand for 15 minutes. Remove top and rinse eggs in tap water to cool. Once fully cool, peel eggs. Slice eggs in half and place yolks in a bowl. Place egg halves in a container and cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Separately, place smoked turkey and shallots in a food processor. Process until smoothed into a paste. Stop food processor and add yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Process until fully blended and smooth. Add a bit more mayonnaise if you’d like a smoother consistency. Transfer mixture to a sealable plastic bag and remove as much air as possible.
Arrange egg halves on a serving platter. Make a small cut into one of the corners of the sealable bag. Squeeze mixture into egg halves. Sprinkle parsley, parmesan cheese and chili powder on top of each egg and serve.