Now that all the New Year and holiday parties are over and the clean up is done it is time to reflect on this past year and all of the great dinner parties that we have prepared. As serious cooks and chefs, whether professional or layman, we are always looking for new and exciting techniques and ways to cook and present food to delight our guests. For that is what we do! Here are three of my favorite appetizers that can be done at home or in a commercial kitchen. They are great finger food options that can be served on a buffet or butler passed. Prepared with common ingredients, they can be reproduced just like they are pictured here or altered to make them easier to prepare. They do require both culinary and pastry skills to prepare them well with precision and will surely garner many complements when served.
First up is Sliced Beef Tenderloin with Olive and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Tapenade on Croustades. They are garnished with a Herb Butter and Marinated Split Cherry Tomatoes. It was featured in the Missouri Life Magazine October edition.
The next appetizer is Blue Crab and Asparagus Tartelettes. These can be made with a home made savory tart shell made with Pate Brisee or can be served in pre made Phyllo Tart Shells. Always a hit with a Maryland Blue Crab Salad tossed with a simple Vinaigrette made with 1 part Lemon Juice or White Wine Vinegar and 3 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil with minced Shallots, Tarragon and Chives.
The last but certainly not least appetizer is Smoked Salmon Crepe Roulades filled with a Whole Grain Mustard Butter. In the photo they are presented with a Watercress Mousseline and garnished with Smoked Salmon Caviar and Micro Greens. The Watercress Mousseline is not hard to prepare and adds another level of texture and flavor to the chilled Crepe Roulade; however it can be just as delicious without it. The Salmon Caviar was prepared by cold smoking Salmon Caviar on a screen above ice in a hot smoker on low heat just to infuse it with a smoke flavor. To get nice tight roulades first place a crepe on plastic wrap and then spread a thin layer of soft mustard butter on the crepe. After that top the crepe with thin sliced smoked salmon and roll and twist up the plastic into a tight roll, then refrigerate until firm. I have served this many times and demonstrated this technique at both the American Culinary Federation regional conference in Reno and at the Cordon Blue Culinary School in St. Louis, where this photo was taken.