Entertaining guests: 2 delicious party platters

These simple party platter recipes are great to have on hand when you want to entertain, but are short on time.

Entertaining guests: 2 delicious party platters

Grilled cheese with bacon

Here's a nice change of pace from traditional grilled cheese sandwiches. The bacon ­complements the cheese, of course, and sliced apple ties together the savoury flavours with a touch of sweetness.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves 6

  • 6 thick slices sourdough, white, or French bread
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) mayonnaise
  • 6 slices (about 6 oz) cheddar cheese
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and cut crosswise into 6 rings
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) brown sugar
  • 12 bacon strips, cooked and drained1. Under a broiler, toast one side of each slice of bread. Spread the untoasted side with mayonnaise. Top with the cheese and an apple ring, then sprinkle with brown sugar.
    2. Crisscross two strips of bacon over each. Broil 15 centimetres/six inches from the heat until the cheese melts, two to three minutes.

Ingenious

To save a little cooking time, use pre-cooked, ready-to-eat bacon, which is available near the regular bacon in most grocery stores.

Falafel pitas

Falafel, traditional Middle Eastern bean patties, are usually deep-fried. Our version, delicately spiced and crunchy with grated carrot, is baked for a lower-fat result, but is just as delicious.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Pitas

  • 1 can (425-450g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) olive oil
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 carrot, finely grated
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large pita breads
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly slicedDipping sauce
  • 125 ml (1/2 c) plain low-fat yogurt
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. For pitas, put the chickpeas in a medium bowl with the oil and use a potato masher to mash them until smooth. Mix in the cumin, cayenne, turmeric, garlic, lemon juice, carrot, cilantro and salt and pepper, to taste. Alternatively, mix the chickpeas, oil, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste, in a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then stir in the carrot and cilantro.
    3. Shape the mixture into 16 flat, round ­patties, each about three centimetres (1 1/4 inches) across, and place them on the baking sheet. Bake until crisp and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.
    4. About three minutes before the falafel have finished cooking, put the pita breads in the oven to warm. Then split the breads in half widthwise and gently open out each half to make a pocket.
    5. Half-fill the pita bread pockets with the lettuce and tomatoes, then divide the falafel among them.
    6. For the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and mint, season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over the falafel. Serve hot.

ingenious

Need a great veggie appetizer for the party? Serve the falafel patties without the pita bread. Use toothpicks for dipping in the yogurt-mint sauce.

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