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09.26.10 by  

2-Minute Cocktail Apps

Happy hour is happiest when we have more time to cocktail and less time to slave over the stove. Our 7 favorite (read: simple) recipes for serving sidecars to your drink.

Every night around 5, a little bell goes off in our heads that signals it’s happy hour time (okay, 5 o’clock, noon, whatever). Just because you’ve spent the day chasing the almighty buck doesn’t mean you have to phone in the bar bites. Our mission, to keep the apps as sexy as the cocktails … in 2 minutes tops. It’s a tall order, but we’re inspired by our need to spend more time sipping and less on food prep. In the spirit of simplicity, our favorite recipes for innovative appetizers that won’t keep you from your martini.

Char your favorite vegetable — today, ours is the jalapeño — in olive, sesame or chili oil for a fast bar bite.

  • Charred jalapeños — Last month, we were obsessed with the idea of sautéed capers and sea salt as the fast app du jour. But September is all about the hot pepper. Nab a roundup of your favorite peppers, sauté quickly with a little olive oil until they’re charred. You can add an optional sea salt sprinkle. Awesome with super-chilled cocktails.
  • Crab “dip” — Mayo makes us queasy. No, seriously queasy. A faster, healthier version of the classic spread: Mix crab meat (available at your seafood counter already prepped or use canned as a Plan B), olive oil, fresh lemon juice and your favorite dried spices. We like red pepper flakes, parsley, thyme, etc. If you’ve got some diced olives or capers, toss them in, too.
  • Nut mix — You’re right, finding nuts at a bar isn’t so shocking, but instead of the usual, troll the aisle of your grocery for some funky options, or make your own. Tamarind almonds, curried cashews or cayenne pistachios, for instance. Then add a dried fruit like blueberries, mango or cherries. If you can spare another 60 seconds, sauté them quickly so they’re warm when serving.
  • Olive mix — Funk up a jar of kalamata olives with some dried or fresh herbs. Think oregano, basil, garlic, rosemary. If you’ve got time to spare, blend them for a fast tapenade.
  • Smoked edamame — Rather than top your edamame with the usual sea salt, twist it with Malden smoked salt.
  • Salmon toasts — The only legwork you’ve got is assembly. You buy: crème fraîche, capers, horseradish, dill for toppings (mix together or stack according to taste), plus smoked salmon and crackers. Layer cracker, smoked salmon, accoutrement.
  • Tuna tartare — Dice up a slab of sashimi-grade tuna (salmon is an easy substitute) and sprinkle with Japanese 7 spice or wasabi powder.
  • Miso-Peanut dip — Use a hand-blender to combine: 2 spoonfuls miso, 2 spoonfuls peanut butter, the juice of 2 limes and a handful of cilantro (sans the stems). Add S&P to taste the dip, sliced carrots, cucumbers or celery. Make the dip into a salad dressing by adding olive oil until it’s at a desired consistency, then toss on mixed greens.