Party season may be over but Filipinos are known for entertaining guests all year long. While it’s easiest to just pour out chips into a bowl and open a bottle of dip, it’s always fun to surprise your visitors with homemade goodies.
Stock your pantry with these ingredients and you’ll always be ready: cheese, bacon, canned tuna, whole-grain bread, crackers, eggs, tomato sauce, pasta, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. You can whip up a myriad of simple but delicious dishes with a few of those ingredients. For example, chop up tomatoes and onions with cilantro, squeeze lemon juice on the mixture and you’ve got easy salsa. Serve on warm toasted whole-grain bread rubbed with garlic. So simple!
Here are a few quick appetizers that will make your guests feel special.
Nothing is as easy and as glamorous as a collection of succulent cheese and savory meat on a rustic board or on delicate china. Often, one great cheese is enough. But if you have different cheeses in the cupboard, make sure to serve contrasting types. Bring out a soft cheese (Brie) with a hard cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano).
Arrange bread, crackers, apple slices, grapes, dried fruits and nuts around the cheese. You can also bring out honey or balsamic vinegar. You could serve this with a wine that complements cheese.
More tips: Use a different knife for each cheese. Using one knife for all will mix their flavors. Serve neutral crackers or plain bread, not the salted or herbed ones so as not to overwhelm the taste of the cheese.
Bacon and Nutella Bites
Everybody loves bacon and Nutella but have you ever had them together? The salty and crunchy bacon on a bed of sweet Nutella and soft bread will drive your guests nuts!
Start frying bacon. Break eggs into a wide shallow bowl. Beat slightly then stir in milk. Dip white bread slices in the egg-and-milk mixture. In a separate pan, melt some butter then fry the bread until golden brown. Slather each slice with Nutella. Top with bacon.
This bite-sized snack can be quite addicting. The sweetness of the melon refreshes your guests and the tasty prosciutto whets their appetite for more.
Seed the melon and remove the rind. Slice the melon into pieces about half an inch big. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each melon piece, then secure with a toothpick. If you have more time, use a melon baller tool to scoop out melon balls for a prettier presentation.
Grilled Cheese-and-Pepper Sandwiches
This classic is made special because of the red bell peppers. It’s like a gourmet pimiento sandwich!
Heat a skillet. Butter a slice of white bread and place on the hot pan, butter side down. Place a slice of cheddar cheese on top. Add a piece or two of roasted red bell peppers (they’re the sweetest kind!) on top of the cheese. Butter another slice of bread and place on top of the cheese and pepper, butter side up. Grill until lightly browned then flip over. Remove when the cheese has melted.
Easy tip: If you’ve got a sandwich maker, half the job is done. You can make a ton of appetizers like pimiento sandwiches and BLTs, and the popular ham-and-cheese cheese sandwich. Just pop in the sandwich then serve hot.
Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes on Crunchy Bread
This open-faced sandwich tastes like home—earthy, comfy, simple.
Preheat your broiler. Brush olive oil lightly on both sides of baguette slices. Place the slices under the broiler and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Then flip and toast the other side. Spread generous scoops of sun-dried tomatoes on the baguette. Crumble goat cheese on top. Place on a baking sheet then put back in the broiler and broil until the cheese browns and melts. Snip chives on top of the melted cheese and serve hot.