Wednesday, October 10, 2007

First Course

When I have friends over for dinner I like to have something on the table waiting for them when they arrive. Mostly because my friends are crazed workaholics whose last meal was 10 hours prior to arrival. They proceed to return to human form after a few nibbles of anything . Their eyes loose there glossy sheen, they start forming complete sentences and amazingly enough, sigh and relax.

My new favorite pre-dinner items are prosecco cocktails and an olive salad with ricotta salata.

Prosecco Cocktails

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine and one of my favorite drinks. I like to prep glasses for guests with a split vanilla bean and 1/4 cup of juice. For the fall I have been using pear juice in the winter pomegranate or cranberry in the summer raspberry or blueberry etc. I let the vanilla bean sit in the glasses with juice until they arrive and then fill to the top with Prosecco.

Olive Salad
Recipe adapted from a Donna Hay.

4 baby leeks, whit parts only
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup of oil cured black olives
1 tbsp of fresh chopped oregano
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Roast bell pepper under broiler until blackened on all sides. Seal in paper bag and let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed and julienne pepper.

Cut leeks in half lengthwise to within 1 inch of base, leaving base intact. Rinse leeks under running water. Chop and saute in olive oil until soft. Add olives, pepper, lemon juice, oregano, balsamic and s&p to taste.

Arrange triangles of cheese on a plate and top with olive mixture. Spoon onto bread and enjoy.

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