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Suggestions for appetizer to go with duck main

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I am looking for suggestions for an appetizer for a small dinner party on the weekend.

The main course is roasted duck with figs and vincotto, with duck fat roasted potatoes and steamed green beans on the side. Dessert will be roasted pears with caramel and vanilla ice cream (I should point out I'm in the southern hemisphere where we are going into winter so these are pretty seasonal dishes).

I'm after a really simple appetizer. I'm cooking for good friends and don't want a really formal vibe. I'd also like to keep it light because the other courses are quite rich. I was even thinking a simple antipasti but I'm short on ideas. I contemplated feta-stuffed baby peppers but they're out of season at the moment.

Any ideas?

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  1. Soup. I had a really good one recenlty of spring peas served with a poached egg and confit tomato. Of course, you being in the southern hemisphere right now, you could consider something like a lion's head meatball soup

    There is also nothing wrong with serving a plate of pata negra iberico jamón with some marcona almonds and olives. or other charcuterie and some fino or amontillado xérès

    1. I'm curious. Are you talking about a seated appetizer course or hors d'oeuvres in the kitchen or living room before the meal? If the latter, then I don't think it or they need to have any particular relationship to the meal itself. wattacetti's suggestions would cover either option.
      Note to wattacetti: I don't suppose you were able to snag the recipe for that pea soup, were you? That sounds amazing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: c oliver

        I don't have specifics as it was part of a special tasting menu a couple of weeks ago.

        The underlying soup is chicken-based and there is a little bit of onion and basil. The soup is likely pulsed in two batches as while the large part of it is smooth, there are little "chunks" of pea for the occassional textural note. It is warmed but not sigificantly so to protect the color of the soup and the texture of the egg.

        Straight poached chicken egg with liquid centre, though a duck egg would be equally amazing and a bit richer.

        Cherry tomatoes confit in olive oil in low oven.

        Other garmishes: small quantity of minced olive, some micro-sprouts, olive oil drizzle to finish.

      2. How about some simple cheese stuffed baked dates? Wrap with prosciutto or bacon if you want to be naughty, or avoid it if you want to be lighter. You can also stuff them with nuts if you prefer. Seems to me the flavors would work nicely but be just a nibble before a heavy meal. I also love chocolate covered grapes, which you can make savory using chili powder, salt, etc.

        1. It's a lovely rich main course which I'd precede with a crisp peppery salad. Something simple along the lines of chicory, watercress or rocket. Lemony dressing. Topped with shards of griddled crispy air dried ham - Italian, Spanish or whatever you have locally.

          1. A cold asparagus soup would be nice - leeks or onions, asparagus, potato, chicken broth, simmer until vegetables are soft, purée in blender, season with s&p, chill, adjust thickness with water and some cream, check for salt, serve. The soup comes out the most glorious green that would be pretty before that main course (I want a dress that color). If you want to be fancy you can blanch the asparagus tips, chill them, and float them on the soup.

            2 Replies
            1. re: buttertart

              Southern hemisphere asparagus is out of season?

              It's a great idea right now for the northern hemisphere though. The best asparagus soup I had was a restaurant in Tübingen where the locals were going wild over spargel. White part of leeks, white onion, white potato, white asparagus, cream. Garnished with white and green asparagus tips and crème fraiche.

              1. re: wattacetti

                Shoot, I missed that. You could even do this with frozen, I would think - but it is not seasonally appropriate there.

                Had a white asparagus soup at SHO Shaun Hergatt in Manhattan that was like velvet made liquid. Dreamy.

            2. Salad. I like arugula with persimmons, sliced shallots and toasted nuts in a pomegranate dressing.

              1. Wow. This is my first post here and you guys have some amazing suggestions!

                I think I will go with the plate of jamon etc suggested by wattacetti or the persimmon salad jaykayen mentioned. But all of these ideas will be stockpiled for future entertaining.

                I will be back!

                1 Reply
                1. re: nouveau_housewife

                  We're going to be curious about what you do wind up serving (wine pairings too if you're into that).