Coast Guard Kitchen: An Appetizer Adventure

Written by Seaman Sarah Wilson

What is an appetizer?

For the ultra-hungry, it’s a tide over, a way to survive until dinner without any dramatic emotional outbursts. For the connoisseur, it’s a calculated extension of a meal, a means of prolonging the dining experience across time and flavors. But for the foodie, the appetizer is not merely an accessory; it’s an autonomous eating adventure designed to open the palate for more.

“An appetizer gets your taste buds moving. It gets you warmed up before you have the main course,” said Chief Petty Officer Dustin Beasley, a food service specialist and special command aide to the Coast Guard 13th District commander. “So when you get to the main course you can taste things better and you are more prepared to enjoy them.”

Should party appetizers be easy? Absolutely! But easy does not preclude elegant, and Beasley’s bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-stuffed dates embody the idea of simple sophistication:

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Tomato Balsamic Ragout

Ragout

1/2 red onion halved and sliced thin
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 C honey
3 T to 1/4 balsamic vinegar to taste
3 T olive oil

Add olive oil to saucepan on med/high heat. Once hot, add sliced onions. When they start to brown, add tomatoes and turn heat to low. Cover to prevent splatter. After five minutes, add 1/4 C honey and let cook for about 10 minutes. Slowly add balsamic vinegar to taste sweet and tangy. Keep on low until dates are ready.

Stuffed Dates
1 pack of cream cheese *or goat cheese
20 pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
10 slices bacon cut into thirds

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stuff chunks of cheese into each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure bacon with a toothpick if desired. Arrange dates in a baking pan, bacon seam down and 1 inch apart.

Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over with tongs and bake until bacon is crisp, about 4 more minutes. Top dates with tomato ragout and bake another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Bon Appetit!

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