The Luncheon: Phalanges & Digits

Once in a while I like to get a few people together for a weekend luncheon. Good casual food, casual lunch setting and some booze does everybody good on a weekend. The theme: finger food.

bottom clockwise: quesadillas w/spiced apples; cheesy sticks; candied nuts; manchego and membrillo

I probably adjusted the menu a thousand times but here is what I ended up with. I made a few dishes I learned at Hipcooks: Manchego and Membrillo; Spiced Chickpeas (Hummus); and my boy made Candied Nuts and Sangria. These are perfect for entertaining and very easy to make. The cheese plate just requires arrangement on a cutting board or plate with a knife. Done. The hummus - just put everything in a food processor and press ON. Done. Sangria - cut up some citrus and combine with alcohol in large container. Done. Easy and simple.

Here is the rest:
Marinated Olives
Eggplant Dip
Roquefort w/ Sage Honey & Toasted Walnuts
Cheesy Breadsticks
Goat Cheese & Tomato Tartine
Brie Quesadilla served w/ Spiced Chunky Apples & Creme Fraiche
Strawberries w/ Marscapone Whipped Cream
Chocolate Panini

And a few easy recipes:

Marinated Olives
I used Lucques and Picholine olives. You can use your favorite olives. Marinating olives is very flexible because you can put in whatever herbs and spices you like. I used minced garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary and good olive oil. If you don't like olives you can also use this marinade for fresh mozzarella balls (boccocini).

Strawberries w/ Marscapone Whipped Cream
Fresh fruits are great for desserts because you don't have to cook anything. I am really bad at baking and dessert making. That's why I love easy desserts like this. Fresh strawberries from the farmer's market look beautiful and plump and who doesn't like a pretty bowl of whipped cream, especially with marscapone cheese. First thin out two heaping spoofuls of the marscapone with a touch of heavy cream. Whip up half a pint of heavy cream in an electric mixer with a spoon of sugar. Do not over beat or else your cream will become too thick. Fold in the thinned marscapone cheese into the whipped cream mixture gently and serve with strawberries.

Eggplant Dip
Cut 1 medium eggplant, 2 red bell peppers and 1 red onion into 1 inch chunks. Toss with olive oil and few cloves of chopped garic. Salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or so. Let it cool a bit. Place in food processor in a spoon of tomato paste. Pulse a few time. You want this to be chunky rather than pureed. Serve at room temp with crotini or crackers.

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