While I prepare myself for my upcoming trip to Germany, here is an old favorite snack of mine served a bit different than usual. – Before I get to this I’d like to mention the little story that lead me to write this post in the first place. I was recently invited on a party, which was held at a fairly decent catering hall. Among the appetizers was a crudite platter. A boring platter with carrots, green peppers, celery and cherry tomatoes served with I think was store-bought ranch dressing (which is OK). The platter had no decoration at all. – My question is: Is it so difficult to make a crudite platter more appetizing? Don’t get me wrong there are many chefs and caterers out there who take great pride in serving brilliantly decorated appetizer platters. What I learned in recent years is that caterers have come to the point of dropping this hors d’oeuvre from the menu completely. Yet many customers ask for it. So why not reinvent the old?
Why do we serve hors d’oeuvres?
An hors d’oeuvre is served to simply whet your guests appetite to what is yet to come. (except on receptions). It is usually served before the actual dinner starts, so guests can mingle and get comfortable. However, in my opinion an hors d’oeuvre as well as the famous amuse-bouche is testament of what the chef & his or her team is capable of. So whether it’s a simple crudite served in shot glasses or platters – as a host it is my job to impress my guest with the very first opportunity. – The Hors D’Oeuvre –
Crudite Shots versus Platters? What is Your Favorite and Why?
Crudite shots are not very useful when drinks are served. Yes they look great, but having two glasses in your hand leaves you with confusion. So it’s important to keep this in mind before deciding of either. I just think crudite shots are fun – dipping, eating and chatting – walking around with your little shot glass. Having someone passing the crudite shots around is another fun way. The colorful little glasses make a nice impression on a party.
Spice it up a bit.
To make this old-fashioned appetizer “pop” I added jalapeno peppers and avocados to the ranch dressing. The jalapeno gives it a little zing and the avocado some depth. There are lots of alternatives to add flavors to your dipping sauces. From peppercorns, herbs, cheese, chilies to horseradish, the sky is the limit. However, the foundation is always the same; it’s either mayonnaise or vinaigrette based (there are exceptions). I prefer a mayonnaise based sauce, because it sticks better to the vegetables. I know it’s more calories, but more flavor too.
Unfortunately, I had limited vegetable at hand for my crudite. I usually would add red radishes, button mushrooms and broccoli just to mention a few.
Veggies for Crudite
Organic or Not Organic?
I prefer to buy organic produce, because they are free of pesticides. That said organic produce is expensive and I’m not always willing to pay the high price. You can find out more and form your own opinion about organic foods by visiting the EWG (Environmental Working Group). There, you’ll find a ton of information and you might end up supporting them by subscribing to their newsletter. But hold – sign up to receive my blog post first – I would really appreciate it. 🙂
Let’s not forget the health factor in these little crudite shots. Organic or not, both produce are nutritional and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Shot glasses for crudite
Do you like crudite? Do you prefer them served in shot glasses or platters?
Do you think they are old-fashioned ? What’s your opinion?
Organic vegetables or not. Does it matter to you?
I would love to hear your opinion. Leave a comment
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Recipe type: Appetizer, Hors D'Oeuvre
- ¼ romaine or iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, cut in 8 - 3 inch long slices
- ½ cucumber cut in 4 -1/4inch thick slices & 8 - 3 inch long sticks
- ½ red bell pepper, cut in 8 - 3 inch long slices
- ½ yellow bell pepper, cut in 8 - 3 inch long slices
- ¼ red cabbage, cut in 8 - 3 inch long slices
- 8 asparagus, cut 3 inch long with head on
- 4 grape tomatoes each on a 4 inch skewer
- 4 - 4 inch long celery stalks with leaves on
- 1 cup ranch dressing
- ¼ avocado, mashed
- 1 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
- Mix avocados, jalopeno with the ranch dressing.
- Fill the shot glass with an inch of lettuce as a bed for the ranch dressing. Spoon about 1 tbsp of the ranch dressing into the glass than add all other vegetables. Add an extra spoon of dressing to it.
If you don't serve the crudite right away, keep the vegetables moist. That is done by covering the vegetables with a moist towel. It is also possible to submerge them for a few minutes in ice-water to keep them hydrated. However, keeping the vegetables too long in the ice-water will drain them of essential vitamins and minerals.
Using perfectly ripened tomatoes picked just of the vine, (from my garden), will promise for some tasty tomato crostini. Just the smell of these tomatoes is incredible. Enhanced only with a few ingredients such as basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and red onions makes this hors d’ oeuvre an instant hit on any party.
Let Them Ripen…
Tomatoes can only ripen to perfection when on the vine, so it is important to let them grow until fully developed. Once tomatoes are picked, they won’t get sweeter or improve in taste. Only their color will change from green to red. Well, if you couldn’t get perfectly red tomatoes, keep them in a dry dark place to ripen until red (not in refrigerator). Unfortunately, most tomatoes we buy in our supermarkets are not properly ripened at all. Most of them ripened in a box on their way to the store. For that reason I suggest that you buy your tomatoes at the farmers market. They’re probably organically grown, taste better and are much healthier for you. When choosing tomatoes select firm, red and silky ones and stay away from too ripe or soft tomatoes. Get in the habit of smelling your tomatoes, too. The stem is the best spot to do that. If they don’t smell right the tomato probably won’t taste either.
Perfectly Ripened Tomatoes
A Few Health Benefits of Tomatoes:
We all know tomatoes are healthy, right? Did you know that they fight fat, cancer and infections, too? Yes, tomatoes are cancer fighters according to Dr. Leo Galland MD of the Huffington Post. They are packed with antioxidants and vitamin A, C and E. The reason they fight fat is of their anti inflammatory properties, which will allow your weight loss hormones to work properly.
Perfectly ripened tomatoes don’t need much more attention. What I mean by attention is spices or condiments. I rather let the tomatoes speak for them self. Tomato crostini are a great way to portray that perfectly ripened tomato recipe. In case you are a vegetarian, exchange the cheese with tofu. Here are three different examples:
Healthy Tomato Crostini
Healthy Tomato Crostini Three Ways:
Tomato & Blue Cheese Crostini
Plum Tomato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Cherry Tomato & Basil Crostini
Tomato Crostini Devoured
1 French Bread sliced on a bias, aim for 12 slices. 4 slices for each recipe.
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Mix garlic, herbs, salt, olive oil and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
With a brush spread the garlic oil on both sides of the bread slices. Bake them for 6-8 minutes at 365° Fahrenheit or until golden brown.
Tip: Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over crostini before baking. This will make a delightful crostini. Making Crostinis on a BBQ works well too. Place bread slices on medium hot grill and turn after 1.5 minute. Keep it longer on the grill for more charred flavor.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
Cook vinegar and honey over medium heat until reduced to half. Set a side to cool.
Tip: Aged balsamic works even better and you don’t have to reduce it, since it becomes sweeter through aging.
Tomato & Blue Cheese Crostini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tsp finely chopped basil
Dash of olive oil
Dash of balsamic reduction
4 tbsp blue cheese, (Saga, Gorgonzola works fine)
4 tbsp cream cheese
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
Toss the first five ingredients together and set aside
With a fork mix the two cheeses with yogurt to a creamy paste and spread over 4 crostini. Then spoon the tomatoes on top of cheese.
Plum Tomato & Goat cheese Crostini
2 Plum Tomatoes, sliced and halved
3/4 cup of goat cheese
12 tbsp Greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Combine goat cheese, yogurt and chives and spread a good amount over 4 crostini. Now place 3 or 4 slices of tomatoes in an angle over the goat cheese.
Cherry Tomato & Basil Crostini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp basil, finely sliced
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic reduction
Spoon tomato mixture over crostini. Assemble one of each tomato crostini on a plate with fresh basil and a few drops of balsamic reduction. Enjoy
How do you like to prepare your Tomato Crostini?
Do you buy organic or regular tomatoes?