At the end of the semester, the classic agenda for everyone is to rush to the end, finish exams and leave without really decompressing and celebrating the end of the semester with friends. I am guilty of this, and often wish I had one last hurrah before saying goodbye to my friends for three months.

One of my favorite things to do for friends is host a dinner party. I often don’t have time to do anything very extravagant, but just because a dinner party can’t be extravagant doesn’t mean it can’t be meaningful, fun or include good food.

Throughout the semester, we’ve looked at many dishes and types of foods, and I hope I’ve settled your fears of spending a little time in the kitchen and trying new things. As you spend more time in the kitchen, your knowledge will exponentially increase, as will your confidence in your food. Hosting a dinner party is the perfect way to showcase your new and improved skills.

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Given that, I call you to have a going away/end of the semester dinner party before departing with your friends. Here are a few tips to make sure your dinner party goes smoothly:

  1. Prepare everything you can ahead of time — no one likes to wait for food.
  2. Arrange the meal in courses — it will seem nicer, and your party will last longer.
  3. Make an effort to use real plates, utensils, etc. — this adds to the atmosphere and will make your food look better.
  4. Make a playlist and jam out while you’re eating — no explanation needed.
  5. Buy sufficient quantities of wine, etc. — loosen up and enjoy good drinks, food and friends.

This week’s recipe is a bruschetta trio, which can be served as an appetizer/starter for your dinner party.

Let’s begin.

Bruschetta trio appetizer

Bruschetta is a simple appetizer consisting of sliced and grilled bread (typically baguette) topped with vegetables, meat and cheese.

You can turn a main course into a bruschetta or go for the classic tomato, basil and garlic. Whichever you choose, bruschetta is a great appetizer to make because you can make it in advance and then quickly grill/toast the bread before serving.

Ingredients for four

Bruschetta “crackers”

1 baguette

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

 

Tomato basil topping

1 large heirloom tomato

2 cloves garlic

1/2 ounce fresh basil

3 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 dash Tabasco hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Roasted red pepper and goat cheese topping

One 4-to-6-ounce jar of roasted red peppers

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

One 4-ounce package of goat cheese

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 

Avocado topping

2 large Hass avocados (ripe but not squishy)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

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Directions

For the tomato and basil topping, mince your garlic and cut the tomato into small cubes. Chiffonade your basil (look this up on YouTube), cutting it into very thin strips.

Mix tomato, garlic, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Tobasco in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste, and set aside for at least one hour before serving to let the flavors meld. To serve, place a small spoonful of the tomato basil topping onto a piece of bread and garnish with a basil leaf.

For the roasted red pepper and goat cheese topping, make a goat cheese topping by whipping together the honey, lemon juice and goat cheese until it is smooth.

If the topping does not become smooth, add a dash of cream, milk or olive oil to make it easier to whip.

To make the roasted red pepper topping, using about half your jar, drain and mince the peppers until no big chunks can be seen. Add the balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, spread the goat cheese directly on the bread. Then, place a small spoonful of roasted red pepper topping on the cheese. Garnish with parsley or basil.

For the avocado topping, begin by carefully scooping out the meat from the peel of the avocado. Then cut into small cubes quickly but carefully. The faster you work, the less brown your avocado will turn.

Once the avocado is cut, mix it very carefully with the lemon juice and olive oil. The lemon juice and olive oil prevent the avocado from browning so be sure to mix it well. Add salt to taste. To serve, place one spoonful on a piece of bread and garnish with parsley or basil.

To make the “crackers,” slice your baguette on a diagonal into thin slices. You want the pieces to be thin so they can crisp correctly, but not thin enough that they burn.

Once your baguette is sliced, brush with the olive oil on each side and sprinkle the pieces with salt. Then, either grill them for about 15 to 30 seconds on each side or place evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F for about two minutes or until they develop color.

Serve the brochettes preplated or as serve yourself, and pair with a fantastic meal.

Voila!

As always, let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions at [email protected].

That is all for now,
Chef Sogs