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Happy Hour Appetizers…

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…When There is No Time

Last Friday, Gary and I had our neighbor and dear friend Natalie over for Happy Hour. It had been months since we had some quality time with just her. But On Friday, the planets aligned and we had nothing on our schedule, and she was kid and boyfriend free. Now don’t get any ideas her kids are amazing, and we love them like our own, and we like her boyfriend too, but we were craving some “Nat time.”  So the three of us got comfy in our three season room (aka Church of the Screened in Porch) and had a wonderful evening of wine and nibble-y bits.

My day on Friday was packed full, so when it was time to run to the store to create a couple of appetizers, I realized that I had little time left, so that had to be simple and not require any cooking time. I had just been to a fantastic tasting at goat.sheep.cow.north that always includes cheese pairings earlier in the week, so I knew exactly what one appetizer would be. And the other with a solid recommendation from the cheesemonger there, I would be all set.

Happy Hour Appetizer:

Kefalotyri topped with Artichoke Cream

Happy Hour

My appetizer needed to be quick so I copied this appetizer from the wine tasting at goat.sheep.cow.north (GSCN) because it paired perfectly with the Greek wine I bought from them to serve on Friday. And fancy that, they had all the ingredients I needed.

If you have ever been to a Greek restaurant and eaten Saganaki aka Flaming Cheese, then you have eaten Kefalotyri. This cheese is an aged Greek Feta.  Whether fried like in Saganaki or not, this hard cheese packs a great punch of grassy fields and salty air.  The Artichoke Cream aka Crema di Carciofi is a simple mix of just three ingredients: artichokes olive oil and sea salt blended into this delicious cream.

Happy Hour

Simply cut your cheese into bite-sized pieces and add a dollop of artichoke cream and done.  Next!

Happy Hour Appetizer:

Salami Etna with Pistachio and Lemon Zest

Happy Hour

While this salami paired with red wine at the tasting, it was so good I had to get some for happy hour.  This was the simplest of all. Purchase it already sliced and plate it as desired. I love the lemony back notes and the soft “crunch” of the pistachio.  While made in Oregon, this is as close to the real deal in Sicily as one can get. Yep, this is also from goat.sheep.cow.north

Happy Hour

Happy Hour Appetizer:

Smoked Salmon with Fresh Brie, Cucumber, Tomato and Onion

Happy Hour

So I had the smoked salmon and the veggies from the grocery. I wanted to dress this up just a bit and did not feel like piping the cream cheese onto it. Besides cream cheese with smoked salmon says “brunch” and I did not want to communicate that message. So I asked the cheesemonger at GSCN what cheese I might substitute for cream cheese, and she immediately recommended this small wheel of Fresh Brie.

Happy Hour

Ok fine the name of the cheese is Petite Breakfast, but she promised it would be the perfect cheese and not communicate breakfast or brunch when eating. It is a fresh brie which means it has not been aged to the point that there is no rind and the cheese is actually semi-hard so I could cut it, and it would hold its shape. This cheese was perfect. It is mild and just firm enough and creamy enough to make this the ideal cheese for this dish.

I took it home and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it easier to slice and quarter.  I kept the knife blade warm by running it unto hot water to keep the cheese from sticking.

Chop your onion, slice your seedless cucumber and slice and quarter your tomato to fit.  Stack it and plate it and wah-la, done.  I did cucumber first, then cheese, tomato, and smoked salmon. I then added onion as a garnish.  Also done in a flash and super fresh and delicious.

Happy Hour

The Perfect Greek White WineHappy Hour

The Greeks certainly know how to make white wines that are crisp and fresh and unlike anything you will find.

This wine was featured at the Islands of the Mediterranean tasting at goat.sheep.cow.north. This was the first of four wines each made from an indigenous variety of grape native to that island.

Skouras SALTO Moscofilero 2016, Peloponnese, Greece.  Aromatics that make you smile from ear to ear of jasmine and rose water. It is crisp and bright with a slight effervescence. Flavors you may experience include jasmine, lime, and gooseberry with a back note of white peach. The finish brings in more lime with cleansing acidity. This wine is a keeper and affordably priced at $20.00 a bottle. Sold at goat.sheep.cow.north

A couple of fun facts:

Salto means “leap forward” in Greek according to the winemaker. Thus they are expressing that this wine is taking this ancient variety of grape to a new level.

Moscofilero is the indigenous grape variety from which this wine is made. Did you know that there are upwards of 10,000 varietals that can be made into a wine? Only 1,300 +/- are used to make commercially produced wine.

Wild Yeast: It is interesting that the producer noted that they used wild yeast to ferment this wine. It usually is not a factor worth noting because up until a hundred years ago all wine was fermented using wild yeast.  Wines are either fermented using wild yeast that clings to the grapes and indeed almost anything or cultured yeast that is added to start the fermentation. All juice will ferment if you allow it from the wild yeast that is present.  All yeast is natural but cultured yeast is cultivated and “grown” like other agricultural products albeit in a factory, not a field.  Large producers of wine may choose to inoculate versus allow the process to occur on its own. The result is having more control and consistency in the outcome.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour: Natalie’s Appetizer

Asparagus + Prosciutto Tart

This is the appetizer that Natalie brought over. It is off the charts.  I never buy puff pastry… but I am now.  The recipe is on her blog today.

Happy Hour

 

That is all for now.

 

Cheers,

 

rick


 

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