June 21, 2012

Quick-and-Easy Finger Foods for Early Summer

A friend of ours was coming to dinner.  It was early June and suddenly WAY too hot to cook.  He asked what I'd like him to bring, and I asked him to bring "some sort of appetizer.".  I thought I would somehow get motivated to make a few appetizers and we'd have a good selection of tapas and call it dinner.  Our generous friend went to Trader Joe's and brought a delicious spread including mascarpone, apricot stilton, goat cheese, prosciutto, salami, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, a baguette and two bottles of wine.  We arranged the food on serving dishes and gathered around the table for a really enjoyable and easy meal (and a few we plan to enjoy soon).

Somewhere in the course of the meal, I decided that I'd like to eat like that at least a few times a week through the summer.  And so we have.  Here's a quick list of the things we've enjoyed in our quick-and-easy June finger food meals (with a few alternatives throw in).  To me, an ideal meal includes one meat, two cheeses and four vegetables.  A starch and a plate of fruit are entirely optional.

From the Farmers Market 
  • Llano Seco Rancho Ham: a 3 pound organic applewood smoked ham sells for about $25 at the Saturday Farmers Market.  Slice it up and serve cold or at room temperature. 
  • Pedrozo Dairy's cheeses -We love the Northern Gold and miss the Coriander  
  • Pickled Okra from Adams Olive Ranch. Of course, this is a great source for olives, as well, but the pickled okra is Grace's favorite. 
  • Fresh fruits: apricots, nectarines, peaches and apriums
  • Berries
  • A loaf of bread from one of the bakehouse vendors

From the Grocery Store
  • Salami cut into slices
  • Canned sardines or smoked trout
  • Tillamook Cheddar Cheese
  • Asiago Cheese with Olive Oil & Rosemary sold at Trader Joe's 
  • Olives  good salty ones or kid-friendly black ones, many of which are grown"next-door" in Corning, California 
  • A crusty baguette or a loaf of jalepeno-cheese bread or a box of crackers
  • Marinated Artichoke hearts sold in jars
  • Roasted Red Peppers sold in jars

From the Kitchen
  • Carrots & Cucumbers cut into sticks and spears
  • Dill Pickles -a fermented version from Cheeseslave 
  • Pickled baby onions: -A refrigerator pickle: Bring to a boil one cup water, one cup white vinegar, a tablespoon each sugar and salt, 10 peppercorns, a bay leaf, a couple allspice.  Pour over cleaned, peeled baby onions packed into into a quart-size jar.  Let sit in the refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving.
  • Lemon-Pickled Turnips  from Eating from the Ground Up.  I haven't made these yet, but don't they look good?
  • Radishes with some good salted butter
  • a loaf of sourdough or a couple rounds of  flat bread

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