Friday, October 9, 2009

It's Almost Halloween!

Are you looking for some tasty morsels to serve at your Halloween bash? If you are planning a buffet style for a large or even a smaller group, my I suggest one or both of the following dishes.

The first is my "famous" antipasti platter! I have talked about this one before here. Basically, I like to make a pretty platter with a variety of tasty items that all go together. I often vary what I put on the platter but I almost always place roasted red and yellow bell peppers, a mixture of tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic, salamis, prociutto, and olives. Other options are different meats, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, or different cheeses. Be creative. Use what is on hand and play with the color to make an attractive arrangement. I serve with fresh baguette slices or Italian ciabatta. This dish is really popular with my family and friends. I am asked to make it for many parties. The above platter was for a friend's 40th! It is a pretty large platter and I did one other one for that party at just the same size.

But the STAR of the platter is the Spicy Marinated Mozzarella with Oregano and Capers from Bon Appetit in the center! This is an amazing recipe and SO easy! I make it all the time.

Spicy Marinated Mozzarella with Oregano and Capers

  • 12 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons capers, chopped

Overlap cheese slices on medium platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper and stir just until garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in oregano, salt, and pepper. Cool. Stir in capers and remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Spoon over cheese slices.

This next dish (above) I want to introduce you to is from a 1995 issue of Martha Stewart Living. Once again, I have made this dish a couple times and each time it did not disappoint. In fact it was just SO good, I could barely stop eating it and rice, especially cold rice, is not even a big favorite of mine. It is just so fresh and tangy and light yet flavorful. The orange and lime juices just sing. The cilantro provides zing and the saffron the allure of far off places. The colors make it even that much more gorgeous both to the eye and the taste buds!

While this salad calls for squid/calamari, I chose to put shrimp in it instead. It was a bit easier and I felt that it would appeal to more people. The whole dish comes together in a snap and is so versatile. It can be a side dish, a main course, a picnic item or an appetizer.

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound cleaned squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rings
  • 1 1/2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes (12 ounces)
  • 3 celery stalks, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Crumble saffron into 2 cups of cold water in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice and transfer to a bowl to cool.
  2. Whisk together lime and orange juices, olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and cumin. Pour over cooled rice and mix to combine.
  3. Bring a saucepan of cold water to a boil. Add remaining teaspoon salt and squid. Cook until squid is completely opaque, about 30 seconds. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain again, pat dry, and add to rice. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Don't forget, if you are looking for Halloween items or invitations, you can find many cute and festive things in my Zazzle Gallery!* Please come on in and have a look. There are also many other designers in the forum with fun, witty and amazing art and gifts!
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