Upscale Appetizers Designed to Impress

It’s a far cry from the standard veggie platter for your church group: These upscale appetizers are designed to impress.

Smoke Trout Rillettes
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese OR crème fraiche OR mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill plus sprigs for garnish
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces smoked trout (I found mine at Trader Joe’s), skin removed, flaked into small pieces or use 8 ounces smoked salmon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Endive spears, cucumber slices, pumpernickel triangles

Mix mascarpone or crème fraiche or mayonnaise, green onion, chopped dill, lemon juice and zest in small bowl. Add trout and stir gently to blend. Season to taste with salt, and pepper. Transfer mixture to small serving bowl.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Place decorative bowl with rillettes on platter; surround with endive spears, cucumber rounds and pumpernickel triangles. Serves 8-10.

Polents Rounds With Tapenade and Mozzarella
2 tubes prepared polenta, each cut into 8 slices to have 16 slices
Olive oil
10 ounce jar tapenade (olive, artichoke or tomato…found at Trader Joe’s)
16 ciligene mozzarella balls (about size of an olive)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves

Brush each side of the polenta slices with olive oil. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 425 degree oven for 5 minutes just until golden brown. Remove from oven, spread with some of the tapenade, place a mozzarella ball on top of each, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and return to oven for 3-4 minutes just to melt the cheeses slightly. Remove from oven, garnish with basil leaves and serve at once. Makes 16.

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry
1 pkg. puff pastry sheets (2 sheets), thawed
2-3 T. good quality mustard (Dijon, coarse-grained, etc.)
½ lb. black forest ham, thinly sliced (about 6-8 slices)
½ lb. Swiss cheese, thinly sliced (about 8 slices)
1 T. dried Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 T. cream
baking sheet with parchment lining

Place one sheet of puff pastry on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush top with mustard, leaving ½” border on all sides. Lay the ham and cheese on pastry, again leaving a ½” border on all sides. Sprinkle with dried herbs. Top with second sheet of pastry, crimping edges with a fork to secure. (Can be made several hours ahead up to this point, and then refrigerated). Score the top of the pastry very lightly with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, with cuts about 1″ apart. Brush with egg wash and bake in preheated 425o oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Remove from oven; cool slightly before cutting into 16 squares (4 cuts x 4 cuts). Makes 16 appetizers.