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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.