On my last cable television show, I invited Ruben Griffin from NYA Catering to come back and show us his six favorite appetizers. He is so good at mixing flavors and coming up with fun ideas. Here are the recipes for you. Do try them at home!
Left to right, they are 1. Bacon wrapped pineapple and scallop skewers, 2. Ginger minted melon salad in a prosciutto cup, 3. Jamaican Jerk Guacamole on a Plantain Chip, 4. Cauliflower Cheddar Cakes with Saffron Aioli, 5. Curried Crab Salad on a Watermelon Popsicle, and 6. Sweet Pea and Saffron Arancini.
1. BACON WRAPPED PINEAPPLE AND SCALLOP SKEWERS. To make, simply place the thawed scallop and a piece of pineapple on a skewer and wrap it in a piece of bacon. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven until the bacon is crisp,about 12 minutes.
2. GINGER MINTED MELON SALAD IN A PROSCIUTTO CUP. To make the cups, turn a muffin tin upside down. Wrap prosciutto around the upside down cups, making sure you have no big gaps. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven until the bacon is crisp, about 12 minutes. To make the salad, mix together 1 diced cantaloupe, 1 diced honey dew melon, 1/4 cup mint chiffonade, 2 cups ginger simple syrup and a teaspoon of cracked black pepper. This will make about 16 cups. (To make the ginger simple syrup, mix together 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring it to a boil and let it cool. In this case, put 4 Tablespoons minced, fresh ginger in it before you boil it so it will have a ginger flavor. Add just enough to the salad to moisten it.) (To make chiffonade, roll the mint leaves and then make tiny slices across the roll.)
3. JAMAICAN JERK GUACAMOLE ON A PLANTAIN CHIP. It’s important to use plantains instead of regular bananas here. The picture shows this done with a banana because they were unavailable, but the plantain curls up and makes a little cup, which is nicer. Slice the plantains on an angle, leaving the skin on. Fry in vegetable or olive oil until soft. Top with the salad, which is a mixture of 2 diced Avocados, 1 Tablespoon minced cilantro, 2 Tablespoons Jerk Marinade (which comes in a jar that you purchase at the store), Zest from 1/2 lime, Juice from 1/2 fresh lime, 1/2 cup small diced pineapple and 1/2 cup chopped red onion.
4. CAULIFLOWER CHEDDAR CAKES WITH SAFFRON AIOLI. Boil one head of cauliflower in water until it’s very soft. Drain, let it cool and mash it with a fork. Mix the cauliflower with 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese, 1 cup Panko, 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper ( or more to taste), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and salt to taste. Form into cakes. Fry in olive oil into slightly browned. Garnish with a little cilantro.
5. CURRIED CRAB SALAD ON A WATERMELON “POPSICLE”. Cut watermelon into 1 X 2 by 1/2 inch pieces. Mix together 1 can lump crab, 1/2 cup mayonnaise. 2 Tablespoons curry powder, 1/4 cup minced fresh chives. Insert the popsicle sticks into the watermelon rectangles. Top with the salad and garnish with a piece of serrano chili cut on an angle.
6. SWEET [EA AND SAFFRON ARANCINI. Make 1 pound of risotto. (In a small amount of olive oil, soften 1/2 onion. Add the rice and toast it for a minute or so. Start adding hot chicken broth (1 box) 1/2 cup at a time. Stir and add in 1 cup of wine and 2 pinches of saffron. Then keep adding the broth until the rice is soft. Finish with several Tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. (Stir through.) Add 2 cup frozen peas to the mix. Prepare three bowls, one with 4 cups flour, 1 with 10 beaten eggs and 1 with 2 cups Panko bread crumbs. Form the risotto into balls, then flatten them and push some grated Fontina into the middle, covering it with the cake. Dip the cake into the flour, then the egg, then the Panko. Fry in vegetable oil until slightly browned. Garnish with Saffron Aioli and a little chive.
To make the Aioli: Bloom a pinch of saffron in 1/2 cup cider vinegar. Mix in 2 egg yolks, 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1 Tablespoon honey and 3/4 cup vegetable oil (OR canola, corn or grapeseed oil. Whisk together well. (PANKO bread crumbs can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. They are crispy and flavorless so they are great for adding crunch without interfering with the flavor combination that you have created.
TIP: Making your appetizers as equal as possible in size and lining them up makes them look professional Enjoy!