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easy summery apps that pair well with champagne

A old friend I have not seen in years is coming for dinner on a weekday. I am planning to start out serving champagne and am trying to come up with easy appetziers/hors d'oeuvres which will pair nicely with the champagne while also suiting the hot August weather. I'd prefer things that are not too involved since it is a weekday and I'd rather spend the time chatting and catching up than working hard on food - I want it to be nice though. Also the rest of the menu will require some make-ahead work, so I'll have some time, but only have limited time available for making apps ahead. I have good access to specialty ingredients so that helps (Wegman's & large Whole Foods nearby).

I'm already thinking shrimp cocktail - not too exotic but meets my requirements (summer & pairs with champagne & little work). I'd like to work in some veggies, or at least one veggie-heavy appetizer. I'm not opposed to dips, just don't already have some in my repertoire that fit this particular bill (my current fav summer dip is a yogurt-cucumber one but I don't see that as great with champagne).

Any help is much appreciated!

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  1. cold smoked salmon on crackers with dab of creme fraich or sour cream accented with small piece of fresh dill

    roasted or grilled veggie platter (zuchinni, onion chunks, eggplant, several colors of peppers) with pesto dipping sauce - you can roast or grill veggies ahead of time, then bring to room temp

    citrus salad with avocado, grapefruit, strawberry and orange sections tossed with champagne vinegar vinaigrette and toasted almonds (first course)

    1. Fresh strawberries. Soft cream cheese, good crackers, smoked salmon, caviar, chopped egg, chopped red onion, chopped hard-cooked egg, and lemon wedges on a platter. Dark chocolate.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bayoucook

        I thought of strawberries, too. Maybe crostini spread with goat cheese, topped with sliced strawberries and drizzled with balsamic reduction? You'd want a bit of salt and pepper to keep it from becoming dessert.

        1. re: katecm

          Oh! That sounds so good! I have all that except for the goat cheese. Maybe I could sub feta or cream cheese?

          1. re: bayoucook

            I would try a nibble of strawberry and feta before committing to it. Since feta loves watermelon, it just might work. If it's too strong, you could perhaps mix the feta with the cream cheese to make it a bit milder.

      2. I have been eating thinly sliced smoked duck breast (D'Artagne - in many whole foods stores) on endive spears. Can drizzle creme fraiche if you'd like - I eat it as is!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bigley9

          OHHHH... Good gosh. Salivating. That sounds amazing.

        2. Try smoked salmon, creme fraiche & chive on a kettle chip.

          Or you can find blinis frozen in most upscale markets, dollop with creme fraiche & caviar.

          I used to have a recipe for a caviar dip, that incorporated chopped hb egg on it, but I can't find it at the moment!

          Smoked bluefish pate on toast points

          Wasabi lime crab salad on cucumber cups

          Feta & caramelized onions in pastry cups

          2 Replies
          1. re: Phurstluv

            I made a caviar dip. Mix cream cheese with sour cream, add some lemon juice and dill.
            Spread into a dish and top with chopped hard-boiled eggs and chopped red onions. Top with caviar. Is that it?

            1. re: bayoucook

              Sounds like it! Somehow, I'm remembering it being molded, but that's probably incorrect! Good job, bayoucook!

          2. Slice off the tops of cherry tomatoes. Hollow them out and stuff with goat cheese and tapenade. You could drizzle some olive oil and balsamico over.

            1. Not elegant, but really good with Champagne is popcorn. There's just something about the butter, corn and salt that works.

              1. regular o' gourges - i just made 40 or 50 mini ones from one batch. it piped in scant half tbl spoon sizes, you can freeze and bake on the spot. takes half the time to bake as the big ones. instantly fancy!

                i am having a party as well, i think i'll do the salmon deal to! sounds great.

                keep the veggies suggestions coming, i'm watching them too =)

                2 Replies
                1. I recently did an easy no cook appetizer--lay out proscuitto slices and cut them in half lengthwise. Place a dab of mango chutney, a dollop of goat cheese or blue cheese, and a couple of arugula leaves in the center of the proscutto and roll it up. Easy, can be made in advance, and looks pretty too.

                  1. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                    not sure if this goes with champagne.. vodka marinated grape tomatoes?

                    1. First of all, I absolutely love that you are having champagne to celebrate an old friend visiting. There is no better reason to sip on bubbly!

                      Here are my thoughts on easy and summer appetizers for nibbles:

                      Seared ahi tuna served a top slices of cucumber.
                      Crostinis served with red beets and goat cheese.
                      Small skewers of mozzarella, cherry tomato, basil and drizzled with balsamic.
                      Slices of watermelon served with feta cheese and also drizzled in balsamic.

                      For a cold dip, a creamy pesto dip (just follow a recipe for pesto and add either plain or Greek yogurt) would go nicely with vegetables and the bubbly would be nice with the fresh pesto.

                      Just some thoughts - hope you enjoy!

                      1. Great ideas! I'm thinking smoked salmon anything sounds good, love the strawberry crostini, tomato/goat cheese/tapenade definitely, and that pesto dip too (love yogurt-based dips in the summer). I definitely want to incorporate something a little spicy too; we really like a little spicy something with champagne....maybe incorporate some wasabi into a smoked salmon dish?

                        This may turn into an appetizer-only affair with so many great ideas! Thanks - and I'll take any more you've got!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cookie44

                          The crab salad on cucumber cups has a wasabi based mayo in it. It's got bite, that's for sure. If you want I will type out the recipe.

                          Let me do some more research for you on spicy + champagne and post more later.

                        2. Here's another one: Cucumber cut into thick slices, the centre hollowed out a bit and filled with tobiko....well, with tobiko I liked it heaped. Consider it the "caviar" part if after buying the Champagne caviar is too expensive :-)

                          1. The only other thing I could come up with would be something like mini crab cakes with a spicy remoulade sauce. Can be done ahead of time, fried at the last minute.

                            Or fried oysters with the same. I don't know how much you want to cook for this, and those can be a little labor intensive, with some last minute cooking required.

                            When my MIL visits, we always have a pate with our champagne, one of our little splurges. Sometimes, a foie gras, sometimes, chicken liver, or a country style, but always with some Champagne or sparkling wine. Not spicy, but goes well together.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              Pate, cornichons and grainy mustard plus champagne (or prosecco) = my favorite nibbles. Yum!

                              1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                Exactly, mine too, and my MIL insists on it every time she visits!!