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Challenge 6 - Quick & Pretty Appetizers
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 23907 times

Dear Lori,
I’m looking for 5 quick and pretty appetizers for surprise cocktail hour guest from non-refrigerated ingredients we usually carry aboard. 

Bernadette Bernon
Newport, RI

Dear Bernadette,

I was so excited about this challenge because this situation happens to us all the time when we are boating…we rush out with just the basics after a busy week and jump on the boat and realize we have canned goods and the basics aboard.  The first day of the cruise, we anchor in a quiet cove and, lo and behold, we recognize a boat or two we know in the anchorage.  What happens next is an impromptu cocktail party aboard and I have to come up with something quick as a wink!  Happily, I keep lots of canned, jarred and dried goods aboard…nothing too exotic…but good enough to whip up a few quick and pretty cocktail nibbles.

Tapas are Spanish for lid and was a little plate originally placed atop a mug or wine glass to keep flies away. Some enterprising Spanish bar tenders would put a small serving of nuts, ham or cheese on the little plates to encourage patrons to drink more! That tradition has spawned tapas in restaurants, bars and cookbooks in America.

When guests surprise you, I find that serving little plates of Spanish Tapas are the easiest cocktail party snacks!  None of these ingredients needs refrigeration and can be stored on the boat for the whole season.  You don’t need special equipment to make tapas and you can use bread or crackers to accompany the little plate (unless the main ingredient is bread!).  I like to serve all the tapas at one time so guests can pick and choose what they want and you can avoid the galley after everything is done.  Serve beer, wine, sherry or sangria for an authentic Spanish flair.  Make sure each guest has a little plate, napkin, fork and knife for spreading.  Add a bowl of Greek black or Calamita olives that are drained and marinated in olive oil, garlic, a little grated orange or lemon peel, a pinch of crushed red pepper and a pinch of rosemary and also add a bowl of roasted, salted almonds (Just sauté whole almonds until fragrant and toasted a little and then top with a teaspoon of olive oil and coarse salt and pepper). All these recipes serve 6 for cocktails!


Tapas – Banderillas or Little Skewers
Tapas - Tuna Stuffed Peppers
Tapas – Pan a la Catalana (Tomato Bread)
Tapas - White Bean Dip
Tapas - Clam Bites

Tapas – Banderillas or Little Skewers
These easy tapas called Banderillas get their name from the barbed darts used during a bullfight! Buy jars/cans of these ingredients and keep them on hand in your kitchen for those times when unexpected guests arrive or you receive a last-minute invitation and want to bring a little treat!

1 box round toothpicks
1 jar gherkin pickles
1 jar cocktail onions
1 jar green olives (pitted & stuffed with pimento, garlic or anchovies)
1 can chunk white tuna (I like tuna in oil for this dish but you can use regular tuna (but it may not skewer as easily), canned shrimp or salmon.
Slide pickle, onion, olive and fish on to toothpicks

SPICY:  Skewer banana wax peppers or peperoncini instead of pickles
VEGETARIAN: Skewer artichoke hearts in water or oil, cut in half instead of fish
NICOISE: Replace green olives with Calamita or Greek pitted olives and add canned or jarred roasted red sweet peppers and jar of anchovies.  Skewer bite sized pieces of roasted red pepper, onion, olive, tuna and whole anchovy

Tapas - Tuna Stuffed Peppers
10 canned whole roasted red peppers (pimientos de piquillo or other whole pimento peppers)
2-6 oz. cans tuna in oil, drained or add 3 tablespoons olive oil to drained tuna in water.
15 pitted black olives
4-5 small green onions or ¼ cup diced white onion
2 sprigs of Italian parsley
1 tsp of sherry vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/2 tsp sweet paprika (Spanish smoked paprika is especially nice)

Drain the peppers and pat dry with a paper towel. Finely chop the olives. Dice the green onions and include a part of the green stock. Finely chop 1 sprig of the parsley.  Drain the tuna. In a small bowl, break the tuna into flakes using a fork. Chop green onions and parsley, add to the tuna. Sprinkle with vinegar and sweet paprika. Carefully open each pepper and spoon in the tuna mixture. Arrange on a serving plate. Garnish with the parsley sprig, if desired. If you don’t have tuna, use canned salmon.

Tapas – Pan a la Catalana (Tomato Bread)
Tomato Bread is simply toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and ripe tomato, then drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt. It can be eaten by itself, but is often topped with cheese, ham or sausage and is eaten for breakfast or appetizer.

Italian or other rustic-style bread sliced into ¾ inch thick slices
2 large, round, ripe tomatoes or small can whole tomatoes, drained well
2 large cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Salt to taste

Toast the slices lightly on both sides. Peel the garlic cloves and slice a bit off the ends and rub the cut ends over each slice of bread. The cloves will eventually wear down after being rubbed against the toasted bread and you will end up with stubby little pieces that are impossible to hold. Slice the whole tomatoes in half horizontally, then, using the tomato half, rub the cut side of the tomato generously onto each slice.  Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over slice of bread. Salt to taste.

ANCHOVY BREAD: top tomato bread with a few slices of jarred anchovies
HAM or SAUSAGE BREAD: top tomato bread with thin slices of prosciutto or Serrano ham or thin slices of summer sausages or chorizo.
OLIVE BREAD: top tomato bread with sliced black or green olives

Tapas - White Bean Dip

In Spain, they serve little bowls of warm white beans or chickpeas with seasonings, but I like the idea of mashing the beans a little so they are easier to spread on good bread or crackers.

 1 x 16 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
 1 clove garlic, crushed
 1 tsp ground coriander
 ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
Salt and cracked black pepper
 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Jar sliced roasted red sweet peppers
 Place the beans, garlic, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth or mash beans with the back of a fork until roughly crushed.   Spread on crackers or toasted bread and top with roasted pepper slices. 

MILD SPANISH DIP:  Replace coriander and cayenne pepper with 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp paprika.  Add lemon juice to taste.  Serve with other tapas.

Tapa - Clam Bites
While whole clams are usually served at a Spanish tapas bar, I rarely have fresh clams on the boat, so these clam bites or clam bread make a more convenient version of the classic garlic clam tapas.

4 tbsp olive oil
4 small (6-1/2 ounces) cans minced clams, drained (make sure to save clam juice)
1/4 cup beer, wine OR reserved clam juice
1 small sweet onion, minced or 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion or 1 tsp onion powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of each dried herb:  parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary (optional)
1/8 tsp ground red pepper or crushed red pepper
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 sliced baguette
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Turn oven to broil. Sautee onion and garlic in oil until golden.  Add beer or clam juice, parsley, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Bring to a boil until slightly thickened, then add clams, bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Add clam juice or beer if mixture appears too dry. Spread clam mixture on baguette slices. Top with grated parmesan and broil until bubbling.  Serve hot.

If you don’t have an oven, just microwave or sauté the clam mixture until hot and serve in a ramekin or shallow bowl, letting guests spread it on their own baguette slices with a spoon.  While it won’t look as pretty, it will taste just as good.

CLAM CASINO BITES: Add 1 /2 cup chopped real bacon bits (unrefrigerated jarred or bagged like Hormel or other brands) and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to recipe. Proceed with recipe as above.
STUFFED CLAMS: If you have clam shells, feel free to stuff with this mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until hot.
HOT CLAM DIP IN BREAD BOWL:  Slice top from the round of bread and reserve. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut chunks out the center of the bread, leaving 1 inch of bread around the interior, to form a bowl for the clam dip.  Reserve bread chunk innards and lid to use as dippers. Make clam dip and reduce bread crumbs by half.  Heat (as described above) and pour into bread bowl top with Parmesan cheese and heat at 350 in oven until bubbling (10-15 minutes).

As your guests consume the dip from inside the bowl, you can tear or cut off parts of the bowl itself. The bowl is the best part, since it is soaked with that great dip on the inside.



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