Appetizer idea needed stat: Room temp or cold, must travel well
I will be attending a dinner party tomorrow and was tasked with bringing an appetizer. The kicker is the party is about an hour from my home and I do not want to have to commandeer their kitchen upon arrival. I need something that will travel well and can be served room temperature or cold. Dinner will consist of minestrone soup and tagliatelle with bolognese, so Italian is the main theme. The party hosts are fans of big red wines, so that will likely be the beverage of choice.
My default idea if I can think of nothing else will be some sort of antipasto plate. I am kicking around the idea of gougeres, even though I have never made them before and am unsure of how they will be at room temp, hours after baking. Another thought is bringing some homemade crusty bread and a couple of different spread options.
Any ideas would be very helpful!
I think gougeres are fine at room temp but don't think they go w/ the menu as much. What about Nigella's sun dried tomatoes and pesto terrine? It doesn't sound like much and the first time I saw the recipe, I quickly passed. But, a friend brought it to a party and it was a big hit--perfect at room temperature, plus very pretty:
You can serve with crusty bread if you want.
Dates stuffed with gorgonzola dolce and a smoked almond. Smoked almond gives the bacon-like effect, but you don't have to worry about it getting chewy...can also through figs and dried apricots into the mix.
May not seem exactly Italian, but this has been well-received at gatherings either at the beginning of the meal, or towards the end as part of a cheese/dessert course.
Gougeres need to be served fresh from the oven but they can be baked ahead of time and then re-heated right before serving.
If you are interested in an Italian cheese type appetizer you might consider Parmesan "frico" crisps topped with an herbed goat cheese mousse and tomato confit. The parmesan frico can be made a day ahead. Basically you spread grated Reggiano parmesan onto a silpat lined baking sheet and bake in a 350 F until crisp (6 to 8 minutes). When cool enough to handle break into pieces which will serve as the base for the mousse and tomato confit. Alternatively, if you want to make a more polished appetizer, use ring molds and place a mold on the silpat lined sheet. Put grated cheese in molds and repeat with each molded round of cheese separated by at least one inch from the other. Bake till crisp and while still soft but cool enough to handle put each round into a mini muffin tin or egg carton to form a convex shape.
The base is stuffed with a mousse made with your favorite fresh herbs, goat cheese, some cream, some lemon zest, maybe some hot pepper sauce or piment d' espellette whizzed briefly in a food processor (you can also add things like roasted garlic or minced scallions depending on your mood). This can be made a day ahead of time and brought to room temperature before piping via a pastry bag or spooning (the former method fancier and the latter more rustic) onto the base. I liketo top with some tomato confit which I generally tend to have on hand either in the fridge or the freezer. It's just slow and low roasted tomatoes with olive oil, fresh herbs salt & pepper cooked until they get intensely flavored and slightly dried out. I like to mix some shery vinegar with the confit to add a little acid to the mix
I was also going to suggest the frico with an herbed goat cheese. crispy and creamy - travels well - the two parts can be made ahead and just assembled on site (goat cheese in a zip lock - cut tip - pipe onto each frico)
I do a combo of what KateBChi suggested in that I sprinkle the grated parmesan into a rough circle shape (leaving it a little "lacy" (sp? looks wrong)) and then when they come out of the oven and are still soft I put them into an empty egg carton (or over small bowls or in a pinch crumpled aluminum foil) so that they are an open cup shape - easier to pick up off a platter when served.
How about some stuffed cherry peppers. Make the stuffing with chopped manzanilla olive with garlic and parsley,and perhaps some anchovies. Or a simple platter of provolone cheese with roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, prosciutto, olives,etc.( you get the idea ) served with a baguete style of toasted Italian bread. A deconstruced antipasto, if you will. Keep the olive oil nearby and people can build their own. My experience is gougeres are not very appealing at room temp. Although they can be reheated. They are easy to make. Also there is tapenade. Also, just something as simple as grissini to munch on during cocktails. Good luck.
Was also going to suggest an olive tapenade with toasts and a soft cheese. Always tasty.
Or another favorite of mine which would go well (though many argue asparagus doesn't pair nicely with all wines, though I never seem to have an issue in my palate) are prosciutto wrapped asparagus. Steam asparagus, quick chill, dry, wrap with prosciutto. You can always pair with a pesto to dip in too. One of my favorite quick, easy, do ahead, apps.
The prosciutto wrap is easy, flexible, and fits the Italian theme nicely (and they look good). Instead of asparagus, I've done a small baton of manchego cheese, a dab of homemade mayo, and some baby arugula (to speed it up, you can chop the arugula and mix it with the mayo -- maybe 50/50). Maybe cheese, basil, and roasted cherry tomatoes?