Road Testing Budget Friendly Appetizers

You know how the food channels always showcase the most fascinating ingredients for you to whisk out when you’re entertaining? Like asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, or warm figs drenched with wild honey to go with goat cheese? Or, get this, fresh oysters complete with the entire array of home-made condiments? Yeah, right.

Again and again, I am frustrated because how on earth I am going to afford all those beautiful things without breaking the bank. Do I have to postpone life until I have all the ingredients on hand? How bout until I win the lotto, eh? So I decided to road test couple recipes and ideas, some successful while other not quite. I’ll let you be the judge.

First is the Bacon Wrapped Fresh Green Beans with Garlic Oil. I boiled the green beans about 7 mins (slightly more than blanching), making sure they were closer to done-ness than half boiled. I browned the bacon about 2 mins each side to get some colour. The idea is not to bake the wrapped green beans too long in the oven that they would shrivel or turn muted green. I want to retain the freshness and the colour.

I infused the olive oil with 1 clove smashed garlic and 1 clove garlic minced, pan fried. After assembling the green beans, I added 2-3 drops of garlic olive oil. Bake them in 175 C for about 5-7 mins, till they are warm and ready to be eaten immediately.

Verdict: I’m surprised that these were the first one people grabbed, in the array of appetizers I had. I guess people like to eat a little of vegetable for appetizers, what more wrapped in bacon and had a nice fragrant.

Second is Crackers with Cheese and Bacon. One of the boys refused to touch anything vegetable, so I modified a stuffed-mushroom-wrapped-in-bacon recipe. I used a whole wheat cracker, so that it would offset the saltiness from the bacon and the cheese. I browned the bacon 2 mins on each side. After assembling, I baked them in 175 C for about 5-7 mins, the same time as the green beans. The cue is to have the cheese melting but not to the point of boiling.

Verdict: They were.. plain and normal. So not exciting. None of them were left behind, but I’m not sure it’s worth doing

The third one is a Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cheese Dip. I used a simple, every day cheeses. I didn’t even bother with Parmesan or Cheddar. They are good and probably make any cheese dip from normal to stellar, but I rather save it to make a sumptuous Mac-n-Cheese.

I roasted a red bell pepper till charred. I removed the skin and the seeds, then diced it. I used a normal cream cheese, that’s been sitting on room temperature. Whisk it to get a consistent paste before adding diced bell pepper. I added diced queijo Flamengo and a pinch of salt. Right before serving, I heated it up in a microwave for a little over a minute till bubbly, sprinkle some spring onions and serve with crudites and crackers. One even dipped the chips in it. In fact, he dipped everything.

Verdict: They were pretty awesome, given they were done with mediocre cheeses. The boy asked for the recipe. I guess that means I would be doing this again or do another variation on it.


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