Saturday, June 18, 2011

two easy summer apps

There is nothing worse than inviting friends over and putting out a spread of appetizers that suddenly go soggy before your eyes on a humid summer evening. Well, ok, there could be a lot worse things, but still, it's disappointing when you're the happy hostess. My winter go-to's like Trader Joe's Tempura Shrimp or phyllo shell tartlets like this or this flop in humidity. So when summer rolls around I have other go-to's which I realized yesterday I haven't shared yet. I made both of these to bring along to a little gathering last night. They are quick & easy, and everyone loved them.

Soy Chorizo in Cucumber Cups
(makes about 30 cucumber cups)

4-5 English (seedless) cucumbers
olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
1 pkg soy chorizo (usually found in the produce section, by other soy "meat" products)
1 brick cream cheese (regular, low-fat or fat-free, your choice)

To make the cucumber cups: peel the cucumber, if you'd like, then cut into 1" rounds. Using a melon baller, or teaspoon, scoop out the inside about 3/4 of the way down. This will make a little cup. Place on a paper towel for 1/2 hour, or so, to let some of the water from the cucumber drain. Then fill with soy chorizo mixture, or any favorite dip or spread.

To make the soy chorizo filling: in a medium pan, saute the onion and soy chorizo in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned. Add cream cheese and lower heat, stirring until cream cheese is melted. Set aside until ready to stuff cucumber cups. May be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a few days. (Extra soy chorizo mixture makes a delicious addition to omelets.)

Endive Spears Stuffed with Parmesan-Walnut Pesto
(makes about 3 dozen)

4 medium heads of endive
1 cup Parmesan
1 cup walnuts
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons mayo (optional)

To make endive spears: simply cut the base of endive and carefully remove the spears.

To make Parmesan-Walnut pesto: in a Cuisinart, pulse Parmesan, walnuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley until desired consistency. (Adding mayo will help to bind the pesto.) Extra pesto is delicious tossed with whole wheat pasta, or broiled over a crusty piece of bread.

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