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My husband and I first developed the “Appetizer Crawl” while we were on vacation in Las Vegas, many years ago. There are so many incredible restaurants there, and we usually stay a very short time, so rather than spend the entire evening dining at just one place, we walked and ate our way along the strip, choosing small portions at each restaurant.
We decided to incorporate this theme at a recent dinner party, and made multiple small plates, rather than one larger entree.
This is one of my favorite dinner menus ever, but the guests, their witty repartee, and noises of appreciation was what really made night a memorable one.


ice cubes
2 ounces campari
1 1/2 ounces dry white wine
1/2 ounce club soda
lemon slice for garnish

Fill wineglass with ice. Add campari, wine and soda, stir to mix. Garnish with lemon slice.
Makes one.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 fresh apricots, pitted and halved, each half cut into thirds
baguette, sliced and lightly toasted
4 slices of proscuitto
1/2 cup ricotta, at room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 mint leaves, roughly torn

Heat broiler, brush apricots lightly with olive oil and season with salt.
Place apricots on a cookie sheet and cook until just tender.
Swirl 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan set over medium high heat. Once hot, add prosciutto and cook until darkened in spots, less than 1 minute per side.
Transfer to a paper lined plate.
While baguette slices are warm, spread generously with ricotta. Top with proscuitto and apricots. Garnish with oil, salt, pepper and mint.

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, June 2013


1 carrot shredded
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
pinch sugar
pinch salt, plus more to taste
1 16 ounce can tomato juice 
2 English cucumbers, roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeds and stems removed
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
10 basil leaves, stems removed
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
20 cilantro leaves, stems removed

In a small bowl, combine carrot, vinegar, sugar and salt. Set aside for 1 hour.
In a blender, combine tomato juice, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno, basil and rice wine vinegar. Pulse until slightly pureed. Add salt and pepper to taste and additional vinegar as desired.
Divide gazpacho evenly among bowls or serving glasses. Top each with pickled carrot and cilantro.

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, September 2012


2 lemons
1/4 watermelon, rind removed, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 pound peeled and deveined, cooked shrimp
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
salad greens

Grate zest from lemons to equal 1 tablespoon. Cut lemons in half, squeeze juice from lemons to measure 3 tablespoons.
Place onion in saute pan with a little butter or cooking spray, cook until tender. Stir in mayonnaise, celery, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir in shrimp and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place arugula and cubed watermelon on individual plates, sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with shrimp mixture.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, August 2012


1 to 2 racks of lamb, cut into individual chops
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 bunches kale leaves
freshly grated nutmeg

Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, the rosemary and the lemon juice.
Coat the chops with the marinade and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the stock and bring to a low boil. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, reserve the saucepan. Add the chickpeas and cheese to the food processor, puree. Spoon the mixture into the reserved saucepan, cover and keep warm over low heat.
Position a rack in the uppermost part of the broiler and preheat to high. Broil the chops, turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of garlic and swirl for 1 minute. Add the kale and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
To serve, top the chickpea puree with a chop, serve with the greens.

Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, March 2013


2 teaspoons coriander seeds (I could only find ground coriander seeds)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 ears of corn, husked
2 14 ounce cans of unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup condensed milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
finely grated lime zest

Toast coriander seeds (or ground coriander) in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, crush with a mortar and pestle (if not already ground).
Stir sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Add coriander and peppercorns, season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Strain, cover and chill.
Cut the corn kernels from the cobs into a large bowl, reserve cobs. Heat coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until almost simmering. Add grated corn, corn cobs and condensed milk, cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture barely begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 1 hour. Discard cobs.
Strain corn mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, discard solids. Whisk in salt. Cover corn ice cream base, let chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Process ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze for at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.
Spoon some syrup in the bottom of the bowl, scoop ice cream on top. Garnish with peanuts and lime zest.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2012