I have been busy testing recipes for a big, exciting project (one that we're going to share more of with you later this week!). While making spicy-sweet popcorn and pan-fried potstickers, I've been thinking about appetizers and their role in a meal. An appetizer is often my favorite part of a meal — here's why.
An appetizer, by its very definition, is one that you eat when you are most hungry! It's the little bite to knock the edge off your hunger and ease you into a relaxed meal. Hunger is the best sauce, so little nibbles often taste so delicious and exciting — sometimes even more so than the meal that follows.
But appetizers themselves are often some of the most interesting foods; I think of creamy baba ghanoush, sweet and spicy nuts, pickles and olives, savory bites of sausage and cheese on toast (my grandmother's favorite starter!) and other delicious, palate-teasing bites.
Besides appetizers' deliciousness, though, I also like the function they play in a meal. An appetizer gives the cook a little breathing room to finish the meal while the guests are happily engaged with nibbles and drinks. For this reason I often answer the question, "What can I bring?" with, "An appetizer, please!" Then any pressure of an appetizer is taken away from me as the cook, and I know the meal will start off with a tasty bite.
If I'm putting together the appetizer myself I usually gravitate towards super easy things, like made-ahead (or store-bought) dips with good chips and vegetables, or a plate of cheese and bread. There's something to be said, though, for a really special, hot appetizer like little fried dumplings, bite-sized crepes, or teeny baked potatoes with bacon. And if I want to really wow people, I do a plate of hot, gooey baked Brie with fruit on top.
Do you have an appetizer that wows the crowd every time? Is there something you make (or that someone has made for you!) that is just hands down the best appetizer ever? We'd love to hear about it! Got a recipe to share?
(Image: Sabra Krock)