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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Anti-Hero Appetizers #SundayFunday

Updated: Apr 1

This weekend the Sunday Funday bloggers are having a dinner party. Stacy of Food Lust People Love invited us: "Dinner Party Dishes! Share recipes you love to serve when you have guests for dinner. Any course: appetizers, mains, soups, salads, desserts. Dinner for two or a crowd and any number in between."

Stacy of Food Lust People Love, Sue of Palatable Pastime, Rebekah of Making Miracles, and Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm coordinate this low-stress group; we only participate when we are inspired. As I mentioned, Stacy is hosting this week. Here's our line-up...

Anti-Hero Appetizers

I was inspired by hearing Amy Thielen interviewed on The Splendid Table podcast. She and Frances Lam were discussing her new cookbook, Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others. Thielen shares some appetizer hustles that she offers guests while they sit at her counter before the main party. If you are interested in getting a copy of the book for yourself, here's an affiliate link on Amazon. It's one of my favorite books at the moment! As far as the name - anti-hero - it's because these don't require any culinary heroics to get on the table.


Thielen mentions "pickled green beans, asparagus, dilled cucumber pickles, fermented pickles, carrots, and or beets, served crowded into small dishes."

I love making jars of Giardiniera, Italian pickled vegetables. They are colorful and delicious. You just need to make them at least three days before you serve them. Longer is fine, too.


makes six quart jars

  • assorted vegetables, approximately 3 cups each of six different kinds (I love picking a rainbow of color)

  • 6 cups distilled white vinegar

  • 2 cups water

  • 3 Tablespoons salt

  • 5 teaspoons organic granulated sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard seeds, divided into 1 t portions

  • 2 Tablespoons fennel seeds, divided into 1 t portions

  • 1 Tablespoons peppercorns, divided into 1/2 t portions

  • 12 cloves of garlic

  • 6 sprigs each of fresh fennel and fresh dill

  • olive oil

  • Also needed: 6 jars, lids and rings


Sterilize the jars, rings, and lids in boiling water and keep hot. Place 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 sprig fennel, and 1 sprig dill into the bottom of each jar.

Quickly blanch the harder vegetables. I blanched the carrots and cauliflower; I used the rest raw. And when they're cool enough to handle, pack the veggies into the jars as tightly as you can. I layered in approximately 1/2 cup of each kind of veggie, pressed down as tightly as I could.

In a large pot, stir together the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Ladle the boiling bring over the veggies. Pour a glug of olive oil over the top, then cap the jars with lids and rims and tighten to finger-tight. Invert jars on a towel-lined surface to move the spices throughout the jars.

Place in a hot water bath. Simmer for 10 minutes to process. Remove to a towel-lined counter and let cool for 12 to 24 hours. Test jars for a good seal. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal properly. Let vegetables pickle for at least 3 to 4 days before eating.

Potato Chips

Thielen writes, "Your favorite variety (mine: thick salt-and-pepper kettle chips) with a sidecar of plain sour cream. You can certainly buy your favorite chips, or if you want to bake your own...


  • 2 organic potatoes, scrubbed and dried

  • freshly ground salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Use a mandolin slicer to slice potatoes thin. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat with oil, then spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the potatoes should be crisped, golden, and blistered. Serve immediately or let them cool.


Thielen tells us, "I often pre-slice the first half before putting it on a cutting board, because it seems to disappear faster that way, but it's up to you." I prefer buying pre-sliced salami an making them into roses.

There is no real recipe here...just a process of shaping the slices into a flower...

Whipped Cheese

Thielen says, "goat cheese and cream cheese in equal amounts (I like more goat cheese).... Top with some fancy condiment from your pantry." Sometimes I do cream cheese and gorgonzola. But I also just love to smash chevre on a plate and serve it with slices of homemade toasted sourdough.


  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese

  • ⅓ cup olive oil

  • 2-3 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh organic thyme

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • zest from one organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • salt, if needed (I don't usually add salt)

  • Also needed: crackers for serving


Spread the cheese over the bottom of shallow bowl or rimmed plate. Sprinkle with thyme, garlic, zest, and black pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Let stand for, at least, 15 minutes before serving. But leaving it for at least an hour is preferable.

Serve with your favorite crackers.

Other Suggestions

Thielen also mentions toasted nuts, warm squash-mascarpone puree with crisp sage spooned over hot toast, warm bean dip, giant grilled cheese sandwich, olives, creamed feta with curried dried fruit, cucumbers, radishes, and fresh cabbage, cheeses, toasted baguette slices, and garlic-rye crisps. All of those ideas would be a welcome start to any dinner party I host! I can't wait to try them and report back. Stay tuned!

The #SundayFunday group will be back next week. I am hosting the bloggers, inviting them, "Calling all pranksters! April Fools' Day is right around the corner. Let's share foods that look like something but are actually something else. Think sushi rolls with Rice Krispies and fruit roll-ups instead of rice and seaweed or cakes that look like wax-covered gouda." I can't wait to see what everyone shares!

25 views4 comments


sneha datar
sneha datar
Apr 05

Perfect party appetizers.. love each of them!


Sue Lau
Sue Lau
Mar 24

All great ideas for little nibbles. Pickling always calls to me. I love keeping jar after jar of it, which always needs a little something crunchy or cheesy to go with.


Mar 24

I want to come for dinner at your house, Camilla! So many delicious appetizer ideas!


Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
Mar 24

Wow....I've got some new recipes to try for my next appetizer buffet. Thanks Cam.

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