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The weather is warmer, days are longer and thus “tis the season” for unexpected guests. We have all been there – suddenly we have company and there is nothing on hand to serve! No distress – tapping into your creative mind combined with some practical advice such as keeping a few items on hand, and you can whip up an appetizer or meal that is sure to please in no time.
Eggs come in handy for that needed “meal in a pinch.” How about an omelet? All you need are eggs, a little cheese, fresh or dried herbs, veggies if you like, and viola – dinner is served! Add a wedge of tomato, roasted red potatoes, a glass of Prosecco and your meal is complete!
2. Red Potatoes
Why red? Because red potatoes contain more antioxidants compared to white and yellow potatoes, plus they add a colorful punch to your plate. If you really want to get adventurous, try blue and purple varieties. As suggested above, you can prepare red roasted potatoes or try an appetizer of roasted sliced potatoes topped with cheese, imitation bacon bits, and chopped chives – Yum! Bacon bits can be served to your vegetarian friends as well as they are prepared from TVP (textured vegetable protein). Store potatoes in a cool, dark location ideally between forty-five and fifty degrees for optimum freshness and storage capacity.
Cheese can last a long time in the refrigerator and has “come to the rescue” numerous times when unexpected guests arrive. Hard cheeses such as Emmentaler, Gruyere, manchego and cheddar have a longer shelf life compared to soft cheeses. For best storage practices, wrap securely in wax paper. Cheese can be served alone, paired with fruit, served on a cheese platter with crackers or bread and more.
4. A Loaf of Baguette
Fresh is always best; however, keeping a loaf of baguette in the freezer can be a lifesaver for those times when we need to put something together in a jiffy. Baguette, with its golden exterior, chewy crust and soft interior is always a crowd pleaser. Remove from the freezer, place uncovered in your oven and warm at 450° for 10 minutes and you’ll be ready to serve.
A fresh tomato can jazz up whatever you are serving whether it be an omelet, a cheese and bread platter or a variety platter with nuts, artichokes and dried fruit. Tomatoes are a front runner when it comes to the quintessential tastes of summer; they also add color and, combining with fresh or dried herbs such as basil or oregano, enhance both the flavor and aesthetic appeal of your plate.
Other items that are shelf stable and can be helpful to keep on hand include olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, Nutella spread - and what mid-day serendipitous occasion would be complete without a bottle of your favorite wine. Keep naturally flavored seltzer on hand for your non-alcohol drinking friends to make a spritzer.