This article was written by Erin Walsh.
Last weekend, we hosted a small gathering as a belated birthday party for my husband.
The evening was filled with good fun, excellent food and copious amounts of laughter. Armed with my new Williams-Sonoma Small Plates cookbook and some key ingredients from Trader Joe’s, I assembled a swoon-worthy feast that left guests scrambling for seconds.
The key to cooking for a small gathering on a budget is to select several dishes that utilize the same ingredients. Make sure that there’s enough variety in the offerings, though, with unique combinations of fruit and cured meats, so that each appetizer packs a distinctive taste punch.
Enjoy these dishes next time you host your next party at home.
All recipes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Small Plates.
Pear Compote with Cheeses
such as Bartlett or Bosc, 2 peeled, quartered, cored and coarsely chopped
Star Anise or Cinnamon Stick, 1
Fruity White Wine, such as Riesling, 2 ½ tablespoons
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Aged Pecorino Cheese, 4 oz. (Note: Other cheeses work as well: I served cheddar and manchego)
Maytag or Other Blue Cheese, 4 oz.
Toasted Baguette or Crackers
1. Cook the pears and seasoning in a skillet over medium-low heat, combine the pears, star anise, wine and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are almost falling apart, about 12 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. The compote may be refrigerated for up to 8 hours, bring to room temperature before serving.
2. Arrange the platter. Transfer the compote to a bowl and place on a large platter. Arrange the cheeses and bread or crackers around the compote. Layer a slice of cheese and a dollop of compote on each cracker or crostini and serve.
Ricotta, Fig and Prosciutto Bruschetta
or sourdough baguette, cut into 24 slices
Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
Fig jam or preserves, 1 cup
Whole-milk ricotta cheese, 1 ¼ cups
Prosciutto, 6 thin slices, each cut into 4 pieces
Freshly ground pepper
1. Toast the bread, preheat the oven to 350 F. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly with the olive oil. Brush until golden, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
2. Assemble the bruschetta. Spread each slice with a teaspoon of the fig jam. Top with a dollop of the ricotta and piece of prosciutto. Season with pepper and serve at once.
Peaches with Prosciutto and Mint
or white peaches, 3, peel if desired
Fresh Mint Leaves, 24
1. Cut the peaches and prosciutto. Halve each peach and remove the pit. Cut each peach half into four equal parts. Cut each prosciutto slice lengthwise into three slices.
2. Assemble the appetizers. Place a mint leaf on each peach wedge and wrap with a slice of the prosciutto. Transfer to a platter and serve.