Appetizers and Snacks

Strictly speaking, the Gourmet Gestapo makes distinctions among the terms hors d’oeurve, antipasto, canapés, crudités, cocktail appetizers, savories, and snacks. Some are eaten while standing with a drink in your hand. Others are served while seated awaiting the soup or pasta course. Others are served at the end of the meal, after, or instead of, dessert. And some are eaten between meals when you need a little nibbling nosh of nutrition.

I have not attempted to group the contents of this chapter into such categories. It has recipes for a number of items that could serve several of these purposes. I am grouping them all together in this chapter, as a place holder for all foods of this ilk.

By and large, however, I meant the foods described here to be consumed at the beginning of a meal, standing or seated. This first introduction to the ensuing meal often sets the mood for the entire affair. The first tastes are a forerunner of good things to come. Those that qualify as snacks, of course, may be eaten at any time.

kat’s cauliflower popcorn

I told my daughter Kat about making cauliflower pizza dough , and she sent me a recipe for “cauliflower popcorn,” with the note, “Here’s the recipe I was telling you about. It’s simple but good! The cauliflower caramelizes a bit and changes its taste as it cooks this way.” Here’s her formula.

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • <salt> and pepper to taste

Toss cauliflower in the olive oil, <salt> and pepper to taste, and bake in preheated 425°F oven for one hour, turning 3 to 4 times until each piece is mostly golden.

Cool and serve.

Homos Bi Tahina ☆

My first encounter with middle-eastern cuisine was in the form of a snack after a Los Angeles Opera Workshop rehearsal in about 1963, when a number of its aspiring but tired young singers needed refreshment after the 3-hour workout. We wound up in an Israeli-immigrant-owned café in an alley just off Santa Monica Boulevard. On the menu was listed Homos Bi Tahina. It was served spread flatly on a plate with pita bread. “Wow!,” I thought, “I’ve got to get this recipe!” I spoke to the owner shortly, and came home with a 3”×5” card scribbled with ingredients and preparation notes, from which I reconstructed the recipe below.

I have other hummus-like recipes among my collection, one using white beans and one using almonds and edamame; but this was my first and is probably the most authentic. It is a quick and easy recipe that is great as a dip, appetizer, or snack!

  • 1 (15 oz) can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste*
  • ¼ tsp cayenne(optional)
  • ½ tsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 oz extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Drain the chick peas, reserving the liquid, and combine with the garlic, lemon juice, and tahini paste in a blender. Add about ¼ cup of the chick pea juice and blend the mixture. If needed, add more chick pea juice, in small amounts, while blending, to get the right consistency. The dip should be a little on the thick side and smooth—not too thick and not too thin. It should just have the consistency of any other dip!

Spoon out the dip onto a plate, sprinkle the parsley and cayenne, optionally, on top. Drizzle the top with the EVOO.

Serve with pita bread (or, for me, a low-carb flour tortilla).