This feature was inspired by a friend of mine who creatively improvised a lovely and simple appetizer that we enjoyed with a glass of wine while sitting on the beach one beautiful summer evening. I thought her choice of English cucumber slices topped with a leaf of arugula and then a dollop of goat’s cheese was elegant and very refreshing. When I complimented her on the appetizer, she said, "Oh I’m glad you like it, I used cucumbers because I didn’t have any gluten-free crackers ." I thought this was very funny and a good lesson for anyone trying to cook for a gluten-intolerant person. There is really no need to stress about what to serve if one can simply gravitate towards fresh foods and a little creativity.
Armed with my friend’s inspiration, I’ve created several appetizers that typically are served on crostini, bread or crackers and have instead served them on fresh vegetables. The result is sensational. These appetizers burst with flavor and are cradled in refreshing little edible cups; the perfect combination without additional carbohydrates. These appetizers are also great choices for summer entertaining when you are looking for 'lighter' first courses.
Any of these recipes can easily be modified with different fillings of your choice to compliment any menu. Our recipes focus on seafood which is abundant and in season here in the Pacific Northwest.
One of our favorite edible cups is endive. Endive is a delicate and beautiful leaf perfectly cupped to hold any filling. Remember when preparing appetizers, the goal is to entice one’s appetite, not to fill your guests up. Add your fillings in small amounts, usually what can be consumed in one or two bites. Smaller amounts of filling will complete the picture of a simple and elegant appetizer. All of the following recipes can also be made ahead. The fillings can be made and refrigerated then placed into the endive or on the vegetable just prior to serving.
-Yvonne Gifford, Chef