Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cold Appetizers - Walnut and Blue Cheese Grapes and Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Olive Tapenade

Let’s try our hand at appetizers! We’ve been invited to a neighborhood post-holiday party and since our last name is in the beginning of the alphabet, we were assigned an appetizer. Boston Chef #2 and I found a couple of grand sounding recipes on – walnut and blue cheese grapes and tapenade stuffed cherry tomatoes. Unfortunately Boston Chef #1 (that’s me) was running late that day and didn’t make it to the grocery store until 2 hours before go time. So the scores we give these dishes are lower than what we would’ve given them had they more time to chill out in the fridge. (We had some leftover which indeed tasted better the next day).

Walnut and Blue Cheese Grapes
Chop up about 2/3 cup walnuts pretty finely and then toast those at 325F for 8-10 minutes.

Using a hand mixer (which Boston Chef#1 is scared of due to an incident involving a 40 year old mixer that liked to stealthily start by itself especially when my fingers were nearby) or a food processor, mix 6oz Gorgonzola with 4 oz lite cream cheese until smooth.

Now here comes the EXTREMELY messy part. Pull up yer sleeves!! Make sure your red or black seedless grapes are washed and dried. Put ~1tbs cheese mixture in your hand and glop around the grape. Don’t worry about the prettiness factor at this point, trust me! Put grapes on sheet pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. Then roll those suckers in the nuts and put them in the fridge again for at least 15 minutes.

Remove and slice in half and you get little apps that strangely resemble eyeballs. Maybe a good app for a spooky Halloween party?!?

Score: 5.5 out of 10 the night of, but after an overnight chill, score goes up to a 6.5. Definitely chop walnuts finer than you think.

Tapenade stuffed cherry tomatoes

Cut a little sliver off the bottoms of about 30 tomatoes so they’ll stand up, and then cut of the top about ¼ way down and hollow them out.

This is actually supposed to be a Spanish tapenade using Spanish Brandy, but heck, I’m just buying a nip and I doubt they had froufrou Spanish brandy in the nip/tuck size.

Mini-chop to the rescue…fill er up with ½ cup Spanish olives with the pimentos, 1.5tsp capers, 1 tsp cheap-o brandy, ¼ tsp lemon zest, 2 tbs olive oil, black pepper and some lemon juice.

Spoon into the tomatoes, garnish with fresh chopped parsley and refrigerate!

Score: Nite of 6/10, next day 7.5/10

A bit too salty, but that mellowed the next day. Definitely throw in a garlic clove (maybe 2 depending on the size of them, and maybe fewer capers.

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