Just skew It: summer appetizer on the fly.
At a BBQ the other day, I was responsible for throwing together an appetizer. My goal was to keep it simple, so I bought 2 loaves of artisan bread: kalamata olive and wheat currant. I threw some pepperonata (jarred, blended roasted peppers), goat cheese, olive oil, fresh basil, kosher salt in a bag and was off to the party. Add the slices of pears and aged Parmesan cheese from the hostess and bammo we had two off the chart, easy pleasing apps. I sliced both loaves of bread, brushed both sides with olive oil, sprinkled with kosher salt and broiled each side for just under 2 minutes. I spread the pepperonata on the kalamata olive bread, dropped spoonfuls of goat cheese, drizzled olive oil and put under broiler for another minute. Take it out, cut some fresh basil onto the top and done. Appetizer 2: first place slices of Parmesan on top of slices of pears around the edge of a serving platter. I sliced the currant wheat bread in half (after it has been oiled, salted and broiled) and piled it in the middle of the plate. Not like fallen dominoes, but straight up like a single tower of legos. But it wouldn't stay without toppling over, so I grabbed a 10 inch wooden skewer and thrust it in from top to bottom. Wallah---an appetizer with vertical interest. People ate the toasted bread with slices of pear and parm.
I love to rearrange things, cut cantaloupe a different direction, place drinks in jars instead of glasses, fill a glass vase with dried beans and tea lights instead of flowers. In the case of this appetizer, the skewer provided a vertical lift, putting slices of crostini in an upright, single file line instead of in a pile in a basket. It was easy for people to access and probably kept the slices warmer than if they were in a loose pile. Try the same trick but surround the upright crostini with choices of olive tapenade, soft cheeses and/or specialty spreads. Alternatively, you can place a 5 inch skewer through summer's multi-colored cherry and grape tomatoes, threaded with whole leaves of basil, on top of a salad of mixed greens, mozzarella and olive oil. Give it a quick squirt of lemon with kosher salt or add a dash of your favorite balsamic vinegar. Is it just me or did it start tasting better somewhere between horizontal and vertical? Just Skew It!