Creative appetizers offer guests a “have fork, will travel” culinary adventure—everything from classics to global spins that elevate dips, bar snacks and small plates.
Robert Aikens of The Peacock in New York City offers a selection of bar bites that include inventive toast variations—chicken and duck liver parfait with brioche toast, potted smoked trout and horseradish pate with sourdough toast, and crumpets with lemon curd and raspberry jam among them—as well as conversation-starting appetizers. The latter include deviled eggs with curry powder and smoked paprika, and warm Scotch eggs with Guinness mustard sauce.
“The inspiration behind Warm Scotch Eggs is very simple, as it represents British food in every way,” Aiken says. “It’s a classic comforting dish. I remember as a kid going to the local butcher’s shop in the Cringleford village (in Norfolk) where I grew up. They sold them and I always loved eating them. My spin on this dish is doing it with different cuts of meat and different spices, as well as the addition of black pudding. Spices like cayenne and smoked paprika elevate the flavor. Typically, Scotch Eggs are seasoned only with salt, pepper and thyme.”
At The Bedford in Chicago, the new small plates menu created by executive chef Mark Steuer and chef de cuisine Michael Galen offers guests a classic cocktail party experience, with menu items meant for sharing. The “Bites” section of the menu includes gin-marinated olives ($5), while small plates items include pot roast rolls ($11) and Shrimp De Jonghe ($16). “We wanted our new menu to feature dishes that give guests the cocktail party experience,” Galen says. “Shrimp de Jonghe not only does that, but it has Chicago culinary history. De Jonghe’s Hotel and Restaurant on East Monroe Street created and served the dish around the turn of the 20th century.”
Elsewhere, global appetizers pique customer interest with flavor variations and creative combinations. Chef Vernon Morales of Salt House in San Francisco offers Vadouvan Spiced Barbecue Lamb Riblets with tamarind barbecue sauce, pickled peaches and cucumber raita. Meanwhile, chef Jeff Mahin of Stella Barra Pizzeria in Santa Monica, CA, has repackaged a classic combo with contemporary flair in the recipe for Grilled Grapes with Fresh Burrata.
Asian influences include Crispy Ti Shells from chef/partner Ralph Scamardella of Tao Downtown, NYC, and Warm Thai Peanuts, Katy Keck’s winning appetizer recipe in the 2014 Southern Peanut Growers recipe contest. Other recipes include Tacos de Papas con Chorizo y Aguacate from chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, and Cod Brandade with Shishito from chef Justin Carlisle of Ardent in Milwaukee.
• Shrimp De Jonghe
• Tacos de Papas Con Chorizo Y Salsa de Aguacate
• Cod Brandade with Shishito Puree
• Vadouvan Spiced BBQ Lamb Riblets with Tamarind BBQ Sauce, Pickled Peaches and Cucumber Raita
• Warm Scotch Eggs
• Pistachio & Avocado Dip
• Grilled Grapes with Fresh Burrata
• Crispy Ti Shells
• Warm Thai Peanuts
• Mediterranean Tofu Flatbread
• Grilled Sirloin Tacos with Barbecue Kimchee
• Scallop and Jalapeno Ceviche