After all the work you do making the meal, what good is it if people are going to fill up on the appetizers? I have even gone so far as to not serve appetizers at all, leaving people to stand without a cracker or a shrimp until the whole kit and kaboodle is ready and then they have to rush over to the table and fight for a place in line or a good chair. Because they are so hungry at this point, it can end comfortable conversation all together.
When you have a number of people getting together who don’t always get together, for any number of reasons, it is wise to give them something to do, and not worry so much about if they are going to eat later or not. Appetizers give your guests somewhere to put their mind to as soon as they walk in the house. And if you have a few things, the choice between them is more entertainment.
I am determined to make a recipe I saw in Saveur called Galleta de Encurtidos, a delicate, browned at the edges kind of tuille with a cross section of an olive in the middle. You preheat the oven, cut large black or green olives into thirds, and toast them 5 minutes in the oven. Mix 6 tablespoons of softened butter with 2/3 cup of flour and go at it with the electric mixer or your finger tips until it is like coarse meal. Add 3 egg whites and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fancy whole grain mustard and a pinch of salt. Mix ’til well combined.
Line your sheetpans with parchment and drop 2 teaspoons of the batter, then spread it out with a little offset spatula to a 2 1/2 inch circle. Place one olive slice in the middle. Keep going. They need to have 1 inch between them. Bake 20 minutes and transfer when still warm to a wire wrack. Cool completely.
I think these would be beautiful with a little plate of roasted asparagus wrapped with slices of prosciutto the way it always is, or served with shavings of that Piave cheese I love, or a goat cheese or even chunks of blue.
On another plate you could have yellow raisins and salted, toasted pecans, and over by the couch, a saucy little bowl of eggplant that you have sliced in half and roasted with olive oil and salt until soft, then pureed with roasted garlic (roast it at the same time as the eggplant), olive oil, lemon, and a bit of cayenne pepper. I don’t see anything wrong with tiny squares of foccaccia. If they fill up, they fill up.