a collaborative blog for friends who love food.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

wine tasting appetizers

My husband just celebrated a birthday and what does that mean in our household? Wine tasting!
Our usual set up is a blind tasting where everyone who attends contributes a bottle and then there’s a competition to guess the varietal of the wines. This year we requested a French Rhone, a Sonoma Zinfandel, a Super Tuscan, an Argentinean Malbec, a French Viognier, and a Spanish Albarino. If you’re ever looking to try one of those types of wine, that’s the region you should be looking to.

People bring additional types and not all make the cut, so I do my best to prepare appetizers that will pair nicely with several different wines.

Two of the easiest and tastiest dishes that I made:
- For the whites – the crab dip was very easy to make, tasted great, and went quickly. I barely got a scoop on my plate!

- For the reds - I have to say that for the preparation, appearance, and taste the stuffed dates wrapped in pancetta were probably the biggest success.

Crab Dip

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon dry vermouth (I used sherry instead)
3/4 cup cream cheese (6 ounces), softened
1/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise (used miracle whip lite and still tasted great)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons minced chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
Salt and cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any bits of shell (only had 1 lb. of crab meat and it was plenty!)
2/3 cup coarse dry bread crumbs
Pita chips or toasted baguette slices

In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until just beginning to brown, 4 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese, crème fraîche, mayonnaise, mustard, chives and tarragon. Season lightly with salt and cayenne and scrape into a large bowl. Stir in the crabmeat, breaking it up slightly with a spoon. Spread the crab dip in a shallow baking dish or 12 shallow ramekins.
Preheat the broiler. Position a rack 10 inches from the heat. In a small glass bowl, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a microwave on high heat. Stir in the bread crumbs and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the crumbs over the crab dip and broil until the dip is heated through and the topping is golden, about 2 minutes; shift the baking dish for even browning. Serve warm with pita chips or toasted baguette slices.

Make Ahead
The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated overnight. Return to room temperature before broiling.

Stuffed Dates wrapped in Prosciutto

1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese, a room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 Medjool dates (12 ounces), pitted
8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise

Special equipment: 16 toothpicks or cocktail picks
In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Gently pull the dates apart and stuff with about 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Close the dates around the filling. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with a toothpick.
Arrange the stuffed dates on a platter and serve.


  1. These were amazing!

    And the crab dip was delish!

  2. amber- the figs look amazing. did you recreate them for the photo op??

  3. When figs aren't in season, dates are always a great alternative. Sounds really good!

  4. Amber, I love this post. It's so stepford!