Friday, July 18, 2008


I love to prepare something for dinner guests for before the meal. This is partly because I'm usually still cooking when friends show up, but also because it's fun to highlight a flavor, color or ingredient that doesn't otherwise come into play during dinner. And people love snacking. Hence, I have an appreciation for preparing a plate of antipasti that goes beyond a cultural attachment. The other day, Ryan and Betsy were coming over before an outing to go see a friend's gallery opening and we knew we wouldn't be eating until later. So I made a quick easy plate of snacks, to be consumed alongside my true love, which is the box of wine that Melanie gifted me with.This was very simple--just those great sundried tomatoes, lightly drizzled with olive oil and fresh black pepper, some prosciutto (also smuggled back from Italy!) treated the same way, pecorino cheese (huh, also snuck through customs? This was some stinky luggage), and a few green olives.The only preparation involved was to briefly saute the olives in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with a pinch of red pepper flakes and some minced fresh rosemary for a few minutes. Don't toast them, but it's OK if they get a few brown spots. You could add some slivered garlic too, if you wanted. Olives taste different heated up--they simultaneously mellow out and get more flavorful. I also made crostini with thin slices of semolina bread. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil and coat the slices of bread in the melted olive oil-butter mixture. Combine 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary with large kosher salt, black pepper and a tiny amount minced garlic, then top the bread with this mixture. Toast in a 375 degree oven until browned and deliciously fragrant, about 8 minutes.

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