Italian Sips and Snacks


Saturday night, at the Off Mendenhall Greensboro Symphony Cooking Class, we needed plenty of Italian sips and starters to get us through all the cooking! We made a variety of recipes together – including some rouge men stealing the anchovies for a snack! All of these recipes are really simple but impressive for guests. They are go-to recipes for any time of the year and can be made with ingredients from the pantry and garden.

I’m not sure what recipe was the biggest hit but they were all raved about. I recommend putting this as stand-by appetizer and cocktails for your everyday entertaining!


  • Ice
  • 1 1/3 ounces frozen gin
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2/3 ounce Campari
  • 1 orange wheel, for garnish

Homemade Rosemary Focaccia

For the Dough:

  • 1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 teaspoons salt

To Assemble

  • Really good extra virgin olive oil
  • Leaves of 2-4 branches fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Coarse sea salt

For the dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Stir in 1-1/4 cups water and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Pulse the flour and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Add the yeast mixture and process until a rough ball of dough forms, 1 minute. Briefly knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Shape dough into a ball. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large bowl. Roll dough around in bowl until coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Pour a thin film of oil into each of four 8-inch round cake pans. Quarter the dough and put one piece into each pan. Using your fingertips, spread dough out in each pan. The dough is elastic and will resist stretching. Let it relax for 5 minutes or so after you’ve stretched it as far as it will go. Eventually, it will cooperate and fill the pan.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Cover the pans with damp dishcloths and let the dough rest until it has swollen in the pans a bit, 30-60 minutes.

Uncover the pans. Sprinkle the dough with the rosemary. Using your fingertips, poke dimples into the dough in each pan, then liberally drizzle with oil so it pools in the hollows. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Serve cut into wedges.

Crudites with Sundried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

  • 3 (8-ounce) cans of pitted black olives, drained
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon, Dijon
  • 4 Anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon, capers
  • pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor. Serve with bread, endive, fresh fennel, carrot and red peppers.

Melon and Prosciutto  – buy great melon and prosciutto – display on a beautiful platter! 

Parmesan Crisps

  • 1 pound asaigo cheese, shredded
  • sage, chopped
  • 1 cup pine nuts, chopped

Shred 1 pound cold asiago cheese. Place 6 tablespoon-size mounds of cheese about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet or silpad. Sprinkle each mound with 1/4 teaspoon each chopped pine nuts and sage. Bake at 425 degrees until the cheese is golden and the edges are slightly crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.  Repeat to make about 24 crisps.

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