Local Restaurateurs Share Go-To Appetizer Recipes

Photo by Jerry Bowles

JAVA POINT CAFÉ, SOLEDAD "CHOLY" ALBERTO

An easy and delicious appetizer that guests will love. Serves 8-10

Stuffed Mushrooms

15-18 button mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped fine
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine
1/2 cup grated Jack cheese
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, 2 tbsp cheese, 2 tbsp parsley, salt and pepper with half of the olive oil. Sauté in a pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps. Drizzle lightly with remaining olive oil. Bake in a casserole dish or baking sheet at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or so until filling is golden. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

SAILOR JACKS, MAYNARD OESTREICH

These flaky little delights, a holiday favorite of Chef Maynard’s, will fool your guests into thinking you cooked all night, but they can be assembled and cooked in under 30 minutes. Serve with store bought salsa. Serves 20

Spicy Meat Empanadas

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb beef chorizo
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot (peeled), diced fine
1 tsp chili flakes
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbsp chopped garlic
4 each frozen puff pastry sheets
1 egg blended with a few drops of water

Remove puff pastry from freezer; preheat oven to 375 degrees. In heavy pre-heated skillet over medium heat, crumble chorizo and pork, breaking up large pieces with wooden spoon. When mixture starts throwing off fat, add onion, carrot, chili flake, and garlic. Continue to cook until onions and carrots are translucent and pork and chorizo are cooked through (about 20 minutes). Add raisins and cook 2-3 minutes. Drain fat through a colander and cool. Unroll puff pastry and cut into 3 inch squares, brush two sides with a scant amount of egg mixture. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of meat filling in center folding corner-to-corner, turnover style. At this point they can be made ahead and frozen. Place assembled turnovers on greased cookie sheet, brush tops with remaining egg wash and cook 12-16 minutes or until golden. Serve hot with mojostyle salsa (puree 1/2 of salsa mix, add back into the chunky stuff with lime juice and garlic to taste.)

CAMELLIA TEA ROOM, SALLY YATES

Simple, elegant and delicious, this easy recipe is a treat for the senses that will wow your guests. Makes 8 pieces.

Pear Pancetta Crisps with Honey Goat Cheese

12 thin slices of pancetta
1 fresh pear
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
Fresh thyme, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the pancetta on foil-lined cookie sheet. Crisp pancetta in oven for 15 minutes or until done to desired crispness. Combine goat cheese and honey, set aside. Slice pear into 1/4" thick slices lengthwise. Place crispy pancetta on top of pear slice, top with a dollop of honey-goat cheese mixture, and garnish with fresh thyme.

LUCCA BAR & GRILL, MICHAEL ROBERTSON

A lovely, rustic yet sophisticated dish that’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser is also a nice treat for friends and family. Serves 8-10

Smoked Salmon Rillettes

16 oz smoked salmon (minced)
1 bunch chives (minced)
1 shallot (minced)
2/3 cup crème fraiche (whipped)
1/2 lemon w/zest
Salt & pepper (to taste)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 rustic baguette

Fold the first five ingredients together, add salt & pepper to taste. Slice baguette on the bias, brush with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Top with the salmon mixture.

ROOKIES SPORTS BAR & GRILL, JOEL SCOTT JOHNSON

Try this recipe from Rookie’s chef Johnson—it’s a great accompaniment to cold beer, a glass of wine or party beverages. Fresh Dungeness crab in season makes all the difference. Serves 15-20

Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Dip

1 lb whipped cream cheese
1 lb marinated artichoke hearts
4 oz fresh Dungeness crab
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped oregano
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

Soften the cream cheese to room temperature and add to a food processer. Add remaining ingredients. Pulse for 1 minute or until it’s completely blended and stir to ensure mixture is smooth. Add salt & pepper to taste. Place equal amounts in oven in a safe baking/serving dish and cover with foil. Cook in the oven at 225 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with warm, sliced sourdough.

THE RELLIK TAVERN, TOM HAMILTON

With built-in holiday colors, this is an impressive party staple with a twist on the Italian classic. Pick up your favorite olive oil and a good bottle of balsamic glaze (instead of balsamic vinegar), and you will impress your guests. Serves 6-8

Fresh Caprese Salad

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oi
2 tbsp balsamic glaze
2 large sliced fresh tomatoes
2 tubs fresh Mozzarella cheese in water
(Bocconcini balls or discs from the deli)
Fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
Salt & pepper to taste
Wooden skewers (optional)

Drizzle a decorative plate with olive oil. (Creativity counts!) Arrange alternating layers of sliced tomato and Mozzarella across the plated olive oil. Zig-zag the balsamic glaze back and forth across the cheese and tomatoes. Garnish with julienne-cut fresh basil, fresh ground pepper and freshly ground sea salt to taste. Chelsea, Rellik’s chef, likes to skewer all of the above (but use cherry tomatoes instead of sliced, and small balls of Mozzarella). Brush with olive oil and balsamic glaze, and voila! Perfection.

Categories: Food + Drink

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