There’s an App for That: Hosting a Small-Plate Party

It’s getting to be that time of year again, even in San Francisco; the air has that bite to it and holiday lights are starting to pop up everywhere. As the season gets rolling, it can be hard to motivate yourself for a night out on the town because there are already so many other social obligations. Where a Friday night trip to the Mission to hit up Pauline’s Pizza’s latest small plates addition, Pauline’s Wine Bar, was once so appealing, now cuddling up with a glass on the couch sounds more attractive. Save Pauline’s tasty organic house-made wines and braised black kale for another night, and bring the party home. To host without overloading on effort, I suggest an appetizer party. Everyone always fills up on the appetizers anyways, so why not have a gathering where that’s the goal?

Have everyone bring a small-plate selection, and you can provide a couple of dishes as well. Pick up some nice bottles of red and white wine, a couple loaves of rustic Italian bread, a spare ingredient or two, and you’re set. In the spirit of the holidays, have everyone give a toast (it will go along perfectly with the toasts described below). Below are three foolproof recipes that require minimal effort, but have a maximum effect on the taste buds. Bon appétit!

Smoky Citrus Toast 1 package smoked fish (approximately 6 to 8 ounces of the smoked fish of your choice; I prefer smoked cod, but smoked salmon can be substituted) 2 navel oranges 1 avocado Extra virgin olive oil Fresh ground pepper Half a loaf of rustic Italian bread

Peel oranges and slice them so that they are in half circles. Slice avocado and bread. Toast bread slices on a cookie sheet in the oven at 375˚ for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Drizzle evoo on each slice of bread. Layer avocado first, then fish, and then top with a half circle of orange with some fresh ground pepper.

Eggplant & Mozzarella ½ Italian eggplant ¼ lb fresh mozzarella 4 sprigs fresh marjoram Extra virgin olive oil ¼ tsp fresh oregano 2 cloves garlic Salt and pepper Aged balsamic vinegar Half a loaf of rustic Italian bread

Cut eggplant in half and make thin, half-moon slices. Coat baking pan with a thin layer of olive oil, minced garlic, and oregano. Roast in oven at 425˚ for 10 minutes, or until soft. Immediately drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and let cool. Toast bread for 5 minutes. Drizzle bread with olive oil and top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Cover with a thin layer of roasted eggplant and garnish with a couple marjoram leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mango Chutney Baked Brie 1 wheel of baked brie with rind ½ bottle mango chutney 1 cup toasted almond slivers Loaf of rustic Italian bread

Take brie out of the wrapper, place in a double layer of foil, and generously cover with chutney. Preheat oven to 350˚. Spread almonds in one layer on ungreased shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Turn oven up to 375˚. Sprinkle toasted almonds on the brie. Close foil and bake brie for 10 minutes. Serve warm with toasted bread.

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