When you learn how to make Italian finger food, these small sturdy snacks are usually eaten from the hand; they must be firm enough to eat without the aid of a plate or utensils.
These can be anything from nuts, raw vegetables, eggs, cheese or miniature pastries such as mini cheesecakes or cannoli. If you are learning how to make Italian finger food, they might also be referred to as antipasto in Italy. This means coming before the meal or here in the United States we call them appetizers. Although these can be served before a meal they are also commonly served alone at cocktail parties or as simple snacks. It is not unusual for breakfast and lunch to see people in Italy pick up finger food and eat while standing or walking. It is generally in the evening when people will sit down for a nice dinner and enjoy eating at a leisurely pace.
Vegetables are the most simple and easiest Italian finger food to prepare. These are offered cleaned but raw and often are accompanied with a bowl of dip. Small vegetables are eaten raw and the larger ones are cut into smaller pieces. Because of the wide variety of colors which vegetables come in, if they are fresh and show no wilt, they make a very pretty presentation to the table. They can be prepared in advanced and kept crispy in the refrigerator. For a special vegetable Italian finger food hollow out mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and other small vegetables to fill with cheese or other fillings.
A very common Italian finger food comes from a treasury of wonderful Italian cheeses. It is impossible to count the many cheeses made at the countries many cooperatives and small farms which are only sold at local markets. Italian cheeses form a varied group reflecting the soil, climate and geography of the country’s vastly different regions. Many of these cheeses are now available in the larger cities here in the United States but you can only experience the taste of many by taking a trip to Italy.
Eggs are popular all over the world in many different types of recipes; this is also true for serving Italian finger food. The white part of a hollowed out egg half makes a natural holder for filling and elegant appetizers. You can simply mix mayonnaise with the yolks and herbs or you can mix other fillings like tuna, shrimp, anchovies or minced ham with mayonnaise and capers. Whatever you decide to add to the fillings, Italian egg recipes will always be a popular finger food.
Long before the pizza (a great finger food) became so popular, Italians were creating a flatbread which we know as Focaccia. This is one of my many favourite Italian finger food recipes. Actually I got my first taste of this from the bakery at Costco; it was so fresh and delicious that I have no idea why they stopped selling it. It is similar in texture to a thick pizza crust but lightly seasoned; Costco’s version had sliced tomatoes in it and great flavour. It makes great hot bread with meals but honestly when I purchased it at Costco I did not want anything with it; it is a delicious finger food even cold.
Mix together the feta, cream cheese, olive oil and garlic. Spread on toasted baguette slices. Top with olives and tomatoes.
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Ingredients: 500 g green Ascolane olives, 400 g lean beef, 150 g lean pork, 50 g chicken (or turkey), 2 eggs onions, carrots, celery, dry white wine, salt, cloves, lemon zest, pepper.
To fry: 2 eggs bread crumbs white flour nutmeg extra-virgin olive oil
Preparation: Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut a spiral around the opening of the olive and remove the pits. The spiral shaped piece of olive pulp should be left in a bowl of lightly salted cold water for a few hours. Brown the meat with the minced vegetables, adding a bit of white wine and salt. Let the meat cook for 20 minutes, and then pass it through a meat grinder adding nutmeg. When seasoned, add the eggs and cheese, making sure the filling is soft and moist. Pinch a bit of filling and shape it into a small ball. Use the piece of spiral shaped olive pulp and wrap it around the small bit of filling. Using light pressure, press the filling into the olive and then pass it through the flour, the beaten egg, and lastly through the bread crumbs.
The olives should be oval in shape and just a bit larger than their original size. Once prepared, they can be frozen or kept for a few days in the refrigerator – or you can fry them immediately. Bring a generous amount of olive oil to a boiling point and fry a few olives at a time so as not to lower the temperature of the oil. Shake them from time to time so they fry evenly. When they become golden in colour, place them on paper toils to degrease and serve them hot.
This focaccia bread recipe makes addition to a meal or just a salad; a great finger food recipe to be eaten all by itself.
Sprinkle yeast over warm water to soften in a large bowl; stir in sugar, salt and oil.
Add 2 cups flour and blend in; with heavy spoon beat about 5 minutes.
Stir in enough flour (about 2/3 cup) to make soft dough.
Turn dough out on a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease top; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Punch down and knead lightly on floured board just to release air.
Roll and stretch dough to fit bottom of greased 10 X 15 inch shallow baking pan.
With your fingers press holes in the dough at ½ inch intervals.
Add desired toppings and seasonings (samples below); let dough rise about 15 to 20 minutes (almost to double).
Bake at 450F degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until well browned.
Cut in small slices to serve.
Toppings: Here are some examples which make great finger food but use your imagination to create others; like I said Costco use to put thinly sliced plum tomatoes which was delicious.
Pizza bread: Spread ½ cup pizza sauce over dough in pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and thinly sliced green onions and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Onion bread: Brush dough in pan with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ½ cup thinly sliced green onions.
Raisin bread: Before placing dough in pan, knead in 1/3 cup of raisins until blended. Place dough in pan; brush with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Boiled egg recipes are good finger food at gatherings no matter what country you are in; Italian egg recipes are no exception.
Shell eggs and cut in half lengthwise; carefully scoop out yolks.
Combine yolks in blender with tuna, parsley, salt and pepper.
Use this mixture to fill egg white shells with a pastry bag.
Wrap olives each with an anchovy fillet; place on top of each egg half.
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