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Sunday, April 21, 2013

No-Stress Nibbles - Semi-Homemade Finger Foods

Mini Muffaletta Sandwiches with Caciocavallo Cheese, Photo: NK
Especially since our Sixties-Inspired Party Bites Post the other day, I've been on a finger food kick. 

Actually, this is is pretty much my baseline. Little nibbles are my absolute favorite - and for me, the best type of party is a cocktail party with small plates and lots of variety. 

I have trouble making decisions ...especially food related decisions, so a little of everything is my kind of meal. 

Now that spring is really here (NYC hit 65 degrees  the other day!), party season will no doubt be getting into full swing. To get you ready, today's post will focus on easy to prepare party hits that are based off a special store bought/ready made ingredientWhenever I find a really smashing ingredient, I am always inclined to build several dishes around it, because when you start with amazing building blocks, it's hard not to turn out a great dish.      

I suppose today's post is the Neurotic Kitchen version of "semi-homemade,"      

and the winning ingredients are:

  Marconi Hot Muffaletta Mix                       AND                   D'Artagnan Black Truffle Butter 
Photo Courtesy of D'Artagnan
Available at www.dartagnan.com

 
Photo Courtesy of Marconi Foods

Available at www.marconi-foods.com

What joy was mine when I discovered Marconi Muffaletta mix at my favorite ever Italian Gourmet Store, Jerry's in Englewood, NJ (Check Jerry's out HERE). This store is so great that it will get its own post one of these days. For the uninitiated, Muffaletta is a type of sandwich that's famous in New Orleans. Said to have been devised by a Sicilian Immigrant (my people!) who owned a grocery store there, and so named for the large round roll the sandwiches were built on, Muffaletta is a delicious sandwich that includes a mix of Deli  Meats, often Mortadella particularly, Cheese, and a Pepper and Olive Relish that provides an incredible piquant flavor with a hint of spice. For more about the Muffaletta, click HERE.

I have been meaning to make Muffaletta relish for some time and doing my usual poking around the internet to research the sandwich itself. Time and again, however, I was deterred by the volume ingredients that the olive spread requires. That's why when I spied this ready-made Muffaletta Mix from Marconi, I knew my ship had come in. 

My mom had joined me on my Jerry's field trip that day and was a bit peckish by the time we returned home. Excited to sample my find, I tossed the Muffaletta mix on the only bread we had on hand, Challah, with some thinly sliced Mortadella. Holy moly did we swoon. Delicious, delicious stuff. Needless to say, when I was invited to a party the following week, I knew exactly what I'd be bringing. Now, all I'd need to do was adapt the Muffaletta to cocktail size. Step one was to add on a cube of tangy, salty Caciocavallo cheese both to anchor the toothpick and sandwich, and for extra flavor. Caciocavallo is similar to Provolone, the latter being more widely available. Step two -class it up all party-like with a parsley garnish. Step three? There's no step three except- presto! Instant cocktail nibble! So without further delay, here's the How To:

Mini Muffaletta Cocktail Sandwiches
Makes 12 Sandwiches - 1 or 2 per person is a good serving size
Ingredients:
12 Mini Slider Buns - Brioche is preferable if you can find them
1/4 Pound Caciocavallo or Provolone Cheese cut into centimeter-sized cubes
1/2 Pound thinly sliced good quality Mortadella
12 small pieces of Italian Parsley 
12 toothpicks

Method:

Lay Mortadella slices in one layer and slice them in half down the middle.

Using on the bottom half of the Mini Brioche Buns, trim them to about one inch thickness and reserve remainder of bread for another use.

Spread each of the 12 pieces of bread with about 1 heaping teaspoon of Muffaletta Mix.

Take two halves of the Mortadella Slices and roll them up. Place on top of the Muffaletta Mix, crisscrossing one over the other. Next, place the sprig of Parsley in the middle of the two Meat slices and place a cube of Caciocavallo Cheese on top of the sprig. Secure the Sandwich by driving a toothpick through the Cheese and towards the bottom of the Sandwich. Enjoy!
 
Delicious Mini Muffaletta Sandwiches, Photo: NK

Herb and Truffle Butter Mixture, Photo: NK

Next up, an easy to assemble handheld cocktail bite that uses everyone's favorite cold cut - Prosciutto. What makes these Prosciutto Wrapped Breadsticks better than usual? Truffle Butter.  We prefer D'Artagnan brand. When mixed with fresh, bright Herbs and slathered over Breadsticks, this high-quality Black Truffle Butter provides an extra flavor dimension that makes for an hors d'oeuvre greater than the sum of its parts. 


Whenever I find D'Artagnan Truffle Butter, an ingredient I first heard about from Ina Garten, I like to store it in the freezer so it's ready to go whenever I get the urge. Another great way to use this delicious product is in this amazing dish that practically makes itself - Ina Garten's Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter
Prosciutto Wrapped Breadsticks with Herbed Truffle Butter
Adapted from Robert Irvine
Makes 16 Sticks, Serving Size 2 per guest 

Ingredients: 
3 teaspoons Fresh Italian Parsley, minced
3 teaspoons Fresh Chives, minced
3 Ounces Truffle Butter fully softened, preferably D'Artagnan Brand
Pinch of White Pepper (or Black is just fine too)
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
16 Plain Italian Breadsticks, (buy extra in case some are broken)
About 20 Slices thinly sliced Prosciutto (between 1/3- 1/2 LB)

Method:
Combine softened Truffle Butter with Fresh Herbs, Pepper and Oil. 

Using a butter knife, carefully spread the Butter Mixture about halfway down each Breadstick. 

Use a light touch or Breadsticks could snap.

Wrap one slice of Prosciutto around each Breadstick, covering all of the Butter. You can press small pieces of Prosciutto in as well to fill any gaps. 

Serve and Enjoy! 
Prosciutto Wrapped Breadsticks with Herbed Truffle Butter, Photo: NK

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