As the creator of Belle’s Best Bites you could probably gather that I treasure tasting and creating that perfect, one bite food wonder. If a dish is well executed, one bite can encapsulate every note and texture of the entire dish conception. The amuse bouche or even a small appetizer is the condensed version of a meal’s best bite. I like experimenting with making small dishes that boast multiple layers of interest—salt, sweet, crunch, acid, etc.
Below are three recipe ideas for creating appetizers or munching foods for your next gathering. Each of the three aims to showcase not one, two, but three different layers of taste and texture.
Peppadew Spread with Toasted Almonds. This sweet, nutty, and creamy dip or spread has the perfect tangy zip to whet your guest’s appetites. Roasted garlic adds a rich depth while toasted almonds sprinkled on top give this bite a needed crunch.
To make: In a food processor combine about 1 ½ cups sweet peppadew peppers, ¼ cup of roasted garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until minced. Transfer to a bowl and stir in one 4oz package of plain, fresh goat cheese and 1/3 cup full-fat cream cheese. Mix until fully combined. Spread on crackers and top with toasted, sliced almonds.
Maple Bacon Kale Bites. I am one to smother my morning bacon with maple syrup and also one to massage my kale before serving it raw. This recipe combines these two idiosyncrasies. Sweet, acidic, and crunchy are the components that help make this cocktail party bite irresistible.
To make: Remove fibrous rib from leaves of Lacinato kale and place in bowl. Add several tablespoons of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar and massage into leaves of kale. Next, bake bacon in a 375° oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through but not too crispy. Remove and brush both sides of bacon with maple syrup. Place strips of kale on top of each piece of bacon, roll, and stick with a toothpick.
Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts with Melted Parmesan. I lightly braise these Brussels in mustard and cider vinegar to sharpen the flavor of these savory green bulbs. Melted Parm adds a rich creaminess while the topping of red onion brightens the bite. Mix it up by adding apple on top to create a classically flavored sweet/salty snack.
To make: melt a hunk of butter in a sauté pan. Then add 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, whisk to combine and turn the stove to low. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and add to the pan, cooking for two minutes on each side. Remove and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper. Assemble sprouts on a baking sheet and top each with a small hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Place under the broiler for several minutes until cheese is melted and bubbley. Serve with several small slices of red onion.