Friday, January 10, 2014

Festive Antipasto

The appetizer should always do as billed, peak the appetite of the consumer! The first bite is always the best and is tastier for the intense debut of flavor on the indolent tongue!  The Italian Antipasto is a close cousin to various appetizer courses of piquant nibbles, from various cultures, including the Arab mezza, the Spanish Tapas, and the Chinese Dim- Sum. (to be featured in upcoming posts).  “Anti” is interpreted as meaning "before" and “pasto” well, you can imagine….  I’ve featured my version of Antipasto on many a holiday table, the natural reds and greens of the marinated peppers, artichoke hearts and black jewels of olives, attract your attention before the taste.  Since we eat first with our eyes, it provides the enticing hook to the rest of the meal. The tomato rose and spring onion sprays add a touch of “look what I can do” and “to show I really care” as all the gifts of the season should.

Holiday Antipasto

Marinated Peppers
2 green peppers
2 red peppers
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp. marjoram
2 tab. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch of sugar
1 tab. capers 

-Wash and quarter peppers.  Place on a cookie sheet, skin side up and broil as close to heat source as possible until the skins are charred and bubbled. 

-Place hot peppers in a plastic bag, closed, until cool – about 10 minutes

P-eel skin from cooled peppers and cut into strips or squares for serving. 

-Mix all remaining ingredients and pour over pepper pieces in a bowl.  Chill well before serving.  Adjust seasoning. 

Marinated Mushrooms
2/3 cup olive oil
½ cup water
Juice of one lemon
1 tab. red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 whole peppercorns
½ tsp. salt
1 lb. of fresh mushrooms 

-Combine all ingredients, except mushrooms and 1 clove of the garlic, in a stainless-steel pot and bring to a boil over moderate heat.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the mushrooms to the marinade and simmer covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

-Let the mushrooms cool in the marinade.  When cool, add the third clove of chopped garlic raw and check for salt.  Store in marinade in the fridge until ready to serve. 

To Assemble Antipasto:

          On large platter arrange the following:
                   (1/2 - 3/4 pound each of meats and cheeses, thinly sliced.)
                   Ham slices 
                   Provolone Cheese Slices
                   Mozzarella Cheese Slices
                   Marinated Mushrooms
                   Marinated Peppers
                   Marinated Artichoke Hearts
                   Nicoise or Kalamata Olives (or red and green olives)
          Garnish with tomato roses and green onion sprigs.  Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper, if desired. Serve with a crusty Italian bread.  Serves 10 - 12.



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