Amuse-bouche aren't reserved for fancy restaurants anymore. The tiny bites served just before your meal are now popping up at dinner party tables in homes everywhere.
Traditionally, amuse-bouche were tiny, bite-sized treats sent out by the chef to whet diners' appetites for the meal to follow. Unlike appetizers, diners don't get to choose their amuse-bouche from the menu. They're pleasantly surprised with whatever the chef prepares for them.
Amuse-bouche can be as simple as a bowl of olives or freshly baked artisanal bread served with extra virgin olive oil for dipping, but they're often extravagant concoctions of foams, mousses, and gelées from talented chefs. Home cooks can serve elegant and palate pleasing amuse-bouche by using quality ingredients with big flavors.
Literally translated, amuse-bouche means "happy mouth." Here are 10 amuse-bouche ideas that will leave you and your guests with just that:
1. Thinly slice an apple or pear; spread slices with softened blue cheese and sprinkle with chopped nut
2. Shape a teaspoon of goat cheese into a ball and roll it in freshly chopped chives
3. Fill shot glasses with your favorite soup
4. Rinse and pat dry seedless grapes; cover them with blue cheese and roll them in chopped nuts
5. Mix up your favorite crab cake recipe and make tiny, 1-inch cakes instead of larger ones; serve with a dollop of tartar sauce on top
6. Sear plump, juicy sea scallops in butter with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves until they're lightly browned; top each scallop with a 1/4 teaspoon of caviar and serve
7. Skewer grape tomatoes and bite-sized pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese; drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar
8. Cut a cucumber into 1-inch thick rounds; use a teaspoon or a melon baller to scoop out most of the center (don't hollow it out completely, you need a bottom to hold the filling; fill each round with your favorite seafood salad
9. Slice a baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices; brush the slices with olive oil and grill the bread until it's golden brown and crisp; top each slice with thinly sliced avocado and chopped, toasted pine nuts; finish with a drizzle of olive oil
10. Spread thinly sliced smoked salmon with goat cheese; sprinkle with chopped, fresh asparagus and finely grated lemon zest.