The tasty little teasers you serve your guests along with libations and stimulating conversation preceding the main deal

Escargot

An easy yet very elegant appetizer to serve with a variety of entrees.  Don’t be shy about making them; they look far more impressive than one would expect due to the simple preparation.  I saw some in the case at my local grocers and they wanted $12 for a dozen.  They were stuffed in shells with a parsleyed garlic butter.

Well, that would be enough for me but what about hubby — I didn’t want to spend $24 for the appetizer.  The nice butcher hinted that I could buy a can of 24 for $4 and whip up some garlic butter.  I’m all about a bargain. . .

Ingredients

1 can escargot (approximately 24), drained
6 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons shallots, finely minced
2 teaspoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Splash of brandy or Madeira (optional)

Preparation

Let the butter soften at room temperature until easy enough to handle.  Drain the escargot.  Mix the softened butter with the garlic, shallots and parsley stirring well to combine.  Add the splash of brandy or Madeira if using.

Places the escargot in the dish (they make special pans for the little guys)*.  Bake at 400 degrees until the butter is bubbly — about 10 minutes.

I served with an Udi’s gluten free baguette which I sliced and heated the last 5 minutes of baking the escargot to lightly ‘toast’.

*you can pick these up at Bed Bath & Beyond any culinary stores or online.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Whenever you want an appetizer that impresses yet is quick and simple these bacon wrapped scallops are a real crowd pleaser and will disappear faster than you can make them.

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Recipe & Ingredients

2 pounds sea scallops (the large ones)
1 pound bacon (do not use thick sliced)

Preparation

Cut the bacon slices in half.  Wrap 1/2 slice bacon around each scallop securing with a toothpick and place on a broiler pan.  Broil for about 10 minutes (leaving the door cracked) and watching carefully or until the bacon is crisp. Turn each scallop over and broil for an additional 5 minutes or until the bacon is crisp.  Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately.

Bam!

Escargot

Whether for a special occasion such as Valentine’s day or just a romantic dinner these snails will satisfy the most distinguished palates and the simplicity of preparation cannot be understated.

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Fresh, frozen or canned?  While I rarely if ever use anything from a can these escargot are one of the few exceptions.  I have yet to source out fresh ones and I find the flavor and texture good enough for my palate.

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Pop the can and drain well in a small strainer

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Mix the butter, garlic, parsley, brandy and salt and pepper together well.  Place an equal dollop, top with a snail and bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes or until butter is bubbly.  I use escargot pans but using the shells make a lovely presentation also.  The shells can be re used by washing well in warm soapy water to get all of the butter out.

Recipe & Ingredients

1, 4 oz can escargots
6 tablespoons raw grass fed butter, softened
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley finely chopped
1/2 tsp brandy
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pop open the can and drain.  Add the chopped garlic, parsley, brandy and salt and pepper to taste to the softened butter and mix well.  Use a small dollop of the butter mixture to each snail and place in shells or an escargot dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with gluten free toast points if desired.

Serves 2-4 (depending on appetites)

Oysters & Love

Sometimes the simplest appetizers are the best. . .

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Not to mention the ease in preparation.

As many things oysters do have a season; we eat only in  months that have an “R”.  September – April, the water’s too warm in the other months.  I do wait until the day of to bring these home from the market  Make sure to store in the refrigerator and ice well until ready to serve.

Now you’ll need a heavy duty glove and an oyster shucking knife to open them.  If right handed glove the left and hold oyster securely flatter side up, with the other hand place the tip of the shucking knife at the hinge of the oyster and move it around a little until you can pop the hinge.  Some are tougher than others and may take an attempt or two.

Once you pop the hinge slide the knife along the bottom of the top shell — this is usually pretty easy.  You may need to cut through the point where the oyster is attached to the top shell.  Now that the 2 shells are separated remove the top shell, scraping any oyster still attached to it into the bottom shell.

In order to make eating them a little easier use the shucking knife to cut along the bottom shell to make sure the oyster is free and clear taking care to retain as much of the oyster liquor as possible — it is delicious.

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Serve immediately after shucking; you can even serve on a bed of crushed ice.  I like mine raw with a splash of lime and dash of sea salt.  Some people like a spot of Crystal or cocktail sauce.

Depending on what other appetizers you are having and the main course, allow 6 to 12 oysters per person.  You may not want to eat these alone as oysters are reputed to be an aphrodiasc. . .

Wing it!

Ever since I was a kid my favorite part of the chicken has been the wing. There’s just something fun and primal about picking the meat off the bone. Wings get a bad rap these days from a health standpoint and rightly so.

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But it’s not the wings themselves that are the culprits it’s the commercial farming and preparation. Eating all the skin and fat in a wing isn’t a bad thing provided the bird was raised right. And the worst part about most restaurant wings is the refined vegetable oils they use for frying.

Once again, make your own and you’ll sacrifice neither flavor nor health.

What you’ll need. . .

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5 lb pastured chicken wings
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
¾ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Sauce
8 tbs Crystal hot sauce
6 tbs gf raw butter

Cut the wing tips off and with a sharp knife separate the drummete and the wingette at the joint. Place the wing tips in a Ziploc bag and freeze. Waste not, they’re going to go in the stock we are going to make later on.

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Season the wings to suit your taste with the spices. If preparing ahead cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove from fridge at least 1 hour before grilling.

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I believe in team efforts so my husband is in charge of the grill. Our favorite is our trusty Weber kettle and our first one lasted over 20 years. We prefer charcoal but gas can be used.

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Place the wings are on a hot grill and cover. Check often, flipping at least one time halfway through. These wings were on the small side and only took about 20 mins to cook. Time will vary depending on the temperature and size.

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For the sauce.
Over low heat melt your butter, add the Crystal and stir occasionally until warm and blended.
When the wings are done, let cool for 5 – 10 mins. You can dunk in the sauce or serve it on the side.

Suggested sides: southern slaw, tomato salad, grilled corn, deviled eggs, oven baked fries, potato salad

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