I've always liked having friends over for dinner parties with tons of food... the stress involved beforehand, not so much. It takes years of practice to select just the right dishes that won't leave you frazzled when your guests are here - even more of an art than cooking itself, I should think.
This recipe is one of the amuse-bouches I made for last night's farewell & birthday party with the lovely Heidinger family... there aren't many people who appreciate food just as much as we do, but these people certainly do! Even better, they enjoy the preparations just as much and aren't shy to offer a hand, even if push DOESN'T come to shove. Those are the best dinner parties - where you can go at a leisurely pace, everybody chips in and there is just as much fun to be had with the preparations as the actual food itself.
The secret lies in selecting dishes which allow for advance preparation, leaving just a few bits and bobs required for assembly sur place and a la minute. These easy-peasy canapes are one example - the tomatoes are slow-roasted in the oven in the morning, the avocado & goat's cheese cream takes no time at all to put together and even the garlic-infused crostini-bases can be prepared well in advance. Less chance of panic, more time to chit-chat... party food par excellence!
15 cherry or mini plum tomatoes
a glug of olive oil
a drizzle of balsamic sherry vinegar (or aceto balsamico)
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
75 g fresh goat's cheese
salt, pepper to taste
1 thin baguette
1 big clove of garlic
chives to garnish
Wash and halve the tomatoes, placing them in an oven-proof casserole. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, then sprinkle with the olive oil and vinegar.
Please the casserole dish in the oven, and roast at 150C for 40 minutes. When the time has expired, crank the heat up to 180 C and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
To prepare the spread, cut the avocados in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash up with a fork, add with the lemon juice & zest and combine. Work the goat's cheese into the avocado until nice and creamy, season generously with salt & pepper.
For the bases, cut the baguette into 30 equal slices (of about 1 cm), place on a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes until browning, turn over and repeat. As soon as they are out of the oven, peel the clove of garlic and cut it in half lengthwise. Rub the breads with the cut side of the clove, just to give it a little whiff of garlic.
When ready to assemble (this can be done 30 - 45 minutes in advance, don't leave for too long, or the bases will get soggy), spoon a good teaspoon of the mixture onto each base, place a tomato half on top and garnish with chives.
* Adapted from "Diva Cooking" by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Jennifer Joyce.