Summer appetizers

We are hosting a meeting at our house tonight.  It’s a neighborhood board that my husband is involved with and once a year they do a potluck dinner.  This year we had someone who generously agreed to supply the dinner.  I felt that the least I could do was appetizers.  These are all easy, always a hit and I got most of the work done yesterday.  The asparagus and wasabi has always been a favorite as has the bruschetta.  I tried a new bruschetta topping with shrimp in addition to my stand by spinach and tomato.  Here are all the recipes:

Asparagus with Wasabi Mayonnaise

  • Asparagus spears, tough ends broken off
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp wasabi paste
Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes per batch.  Rinse under cold water and refrigerate.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and refrigerate.  Serve asparagus with mayonnaise dipping sauce.  (Mayonnaise keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks and is also good on turkey sandwiches.)

Bruschetta Toasts

  • 1 loaf of French bread
Slice bread into 1/4 inch slices on diagonal to make longer slices.  Broil about 1 minute per side about 4 inches from broiler.  Let cool and keep crisp in a plastic bag.  (Make sure toasts are cool before bagging or the steam from their heat will make them soggy.)  You can brush with olive oil and garlic but I seem to run out of time before I get to that.
Tomato topping
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 oz ricotta salata or feta cheese, diced
  • 2 TB chives, minced
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Heat oil over low to medium heat in a small saucepan.  Cook shallots, stirring until soft.  Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Toss tomato mixture with cheese, chives and balsamic vinegar.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  To serve, top toasts with 1 – 2 tsps of mixture (depending upon size of toasts.)
Spinach topping
  • 2 bags baby spinach
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Saute garlic in medium saucepan over medium heat for about 1 minute.  Add spinach in two batches and stir until wilted (about 5 minutes.)  Drain liquid and transfer to a bowl.  Stir in mozzarella cheese.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Spoon onto toasts.
Shrimp topping
  • 1/2 lb cooked shrimp, roughly chopped
  • 2 – 3 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 TB chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to assemble – up to overnight.  Spoon onto toasts.

Summer entertaining

My daughter has a fall birthday so she is going to do a pre-first year before starting First Grade.  It turns out that none of the other kids from her section of kindergarten are going to Pre-First – they are all going on to First Grade.  Her class won’t be very big and we wanted to start giving the kids a chance to get together so we’re hosting some families tonight.  Samantha is referring to it as our party with new friends!

It is summer time and this is a family event so we want it to be casual and easy.  The horrible heat wave from earlier in the week has eased and although it’s still hot, it isn’t as humid so the kids should be able to run around outside.  We’re going with classic cookout food and I’ve been very mature about letting go of my normal control freak need to do everything (in my opinion!)  One of the families is bringing an appetizer and someone else is bringing dessert.  Here is the menu we’re supplying:

  • Grilled hamburgers and grilled chicken breasts with hamburger buns, cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, etc.  (In addition to ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, I’m going to put out some chipotle mayonnaise
  • Deviled eggs
  • Potato salad
  • green salad

I’m marinating the chicken in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.  Here are the recipes for the deviled eggs (which Samantha already helped me make) and the potato salad:

Deviled eggs
It doesn’t matter how many deviled eggs I make, I don’t think I have ever had leftovers.  Typically you’ll hear people say “I haven’t had deviled eggs in ages” as they pop them in their mouths!
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  NOTE: For fancy parties, a small bit of caviar can be added to tops of deviled eggs.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.