Sometimes, the best things are simple. While I love a culinary challenge, I do prefer to balance a complicated endeavor in the kitchen with something easy. Sometimes that's a simple appetizer paired with a more time-consuming entree, and other times it's an evening full of cooking followed by something I can whip up in a jiffy the next night.
A few weeks ago dinner was hours away, so I held off the dogs with some Two Bite Canapés.
The beauty of these is that they come together fast, and are as versatile as the ingredients in your refrigerator. The only critical ingredient is a high quality French loaf of bread - the fresher the better. From there, it's all up to your imagination.
I made these three ways, given the ingredients I had on hand. The winner by unanimous vote was the meatball bites. I bought the meatballs in sauce at Zeppe's Italian Market in south Naperville. Check it out if you are local to the Western Suburbs. Even my mom agrees that they make good stuff - so much so that she recently purchased about six dinners worth of food to keep in her freezer for nights she doesn't feel like cooking.
Two Bite Canapés
French Loaf, sliced on the bias
Mascarpone Cheese for spreading
Provolone Cheese slices
Meatballs in Sauce from your favorite Italian Market (or homemade)
High Quality Capicola, Pastrami or Corned Beef cold cuts
Mustard of your choice (I used a horseradish dijon blend)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle the French loaf slices with olive oil and place in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly toasted, turning the slices after about 7 minutes. Remove to cool.
Warm the meatballs in sauce and slice them into medium discs. Warm the cold cuts and sauerkraut, if desired. To assemble the canapés, place a piece of cheese on the toasted bread, then top with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with chives. For the reuben canapés, spread a thin layer of mascarpone cheese on the bread, then top with a slice of capicola, top with sauerkraut and chives. For the smoked salmon appetizer, spread a thin layer of mascarpone cheese on the toasted bread, top with a slice of salmon, dot with mustard of your choice and garnish with chopped chives.
These are outstanding with any apéritif. Given the continued winter weather we are experiencing, I recommend something hearty, like a gin martini or bourbon manhattan.