Life is full of appetizer moments. Parties, potlucks, birthdays, holidays, and those events that have no name but yet persistently land on the calendar. I’m here to offer you a panacea—an appetizer you can customize for every event. It’s crusty, savory, and durable. Better yet, you can make it in advance. Even freeze it in advance. Best of all, you can fill it with all sorts of options. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this for non-appetizer reasons as well, perhaps to accompany soup or a salad. Just imagine the culinary possibilities…
Hidden Gem Appetizers
35 stuffed olives (garlic-stuffed olives are particularly excellent) patted dry, OR other filling*
1 cup flour (white or gluten-free mix or almond flour**)
generous dash salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
dash cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, try sharp cheddar or gouda
2 Tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
dash Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce
3/4 cups sour cream or veggie dip
2 Tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce or hot sauce
Roll olives or other chosen filling on a dish towel or paper towel to dry.
In a food processor or with a pastry cutter, mix flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Add cheese and butter, cutting in till mixture resembles crumbs. Mix in egg and sauce. If you have time, chill this mixture.
Coat a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Taking about 2 teaspoons of dough, use your hands to roll it into a rough ball, flatten the ball, then form the dough around an olive or other filling of your choice. Place each one on the prepared pan, cover, and chill for an hour or up to two days. At this point the pan can be wrapped tightly and frozen if desired.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake trays of appetizers until they’re golden brown and crusty, about 20 to 25 minutes. It’s best if you flip them over with a spatula halfway through the baking time.
Mix the dip ingredients. Serve appetizers hot, with dip in the middle of your serving tray. You might want to double the recipe. They warm up nicely the next day or two as well. Hidden gems really are amazing.
*Try 1″ pieces of andouille sausage, smoked tofu, cooked mushrooms, chorizo sausage, artichoke hearts, shrimp, or anything you’re inspired to roll in a pastry crust. (Cheese doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory choice, sorry to say, because it likes to ooze out of the dough. I haven’t given up on it, next I”ll try small bits of a hard cheese like Emmental, Blue, or Gruyere)
**Almond flour is a great choice, especially for low-carb folks. The dough tends to slump a little rather than hold its shape in this recipe, but it tastes even better than the flour versions. Both pictures here show appetizers made with almond flour.