If you're a regular friend and visitor here at The Café, you probably know that I'm quite crazy about all things food-related. And it's funny; although most home chefs enjoy either cooking or baking, I'm totally smitten with both of these culinary arts. If I'm in the kitchen, I'm usually quite happy, as it's been my sweet (and savory) spot for as long as I can remember.
Because I love to cook and have a food blog, you might get the impression that I have it all together when it comes to entertaining. I hope you won't be disappointed to learn that I'm not "all that". I sometimes struggle when guests are coming and, at times, feel like I'm trying to juggle ten balls at the same time. Eight of them keep dropping and rolling here, there and everywhere. Do you ever feel that way?
Yup, when it comes to entertaining, I’m not, by nature, one of those hostesses with all their ducks in a row. You know—those type-A friends who have everything in place and perfectly timed down to the last teensy detail? They sit, waiting patiently for the doorbell, table beautifully adorned, peaceful classical music floating through the house, not a hair out of place and fabulous aromas wafting from the shiny clean, completely uncluttered kitchen.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy gathering family and friends in my home, and serving a great meal is a crucial part of my love language. It’s just that I always think I have a bit more time than reality dictates. Panic generally ensues about an hour before the guests are scheduled to arrive, and there I am, proverbially trying to stuff ten pounds into a five-pound sack, as I scramble around, desperately tying up the loose ends.
I’ve found a few tricks that have helped me with this habitual dilemma over the years. Probably the best one is preparing parts of the meal in advance. It gives me great peace of mind to know that one or two of the courses can simply be pulled from the refrigerator and either warmed up or brought to room temperature. This delightful Herb Marinated Feta appetizer is a perfect example. It can be prepared in advance, and actually gets more flavorful as the ingredients have time to meld and mingle.
It’s a Mediterranean-inspired crowd pleaser with lots of fresh herbs, finely diced bell peppers and red onions, garlic, lemon zest and kalamata olives, all married together with a generous splash of olive oil. Serve this lovely appetizer with crisp crostini or warm artisan bread. I can’t promise that it will transform you into the hostess/host with the mostest, but, it’s sure to bring rave reviews from family and friends. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be thrilled to pull out this beautiful appetizer, while you race to get the rest of those crazy ducks lined up!
This recipe can also be seen over at PARADE Magazine.
- Fresh Herb Marinated Feta:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
- 2 teaspoon finely chopped red onion
- 1 teaspoon fine lemon zest
- 2 medium kalamata olives finely chopped
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 4-oz can Feta cheese - be sure to get the block, not the crumbled
Fresh Herb Marinated Feta:
In a medium size microwave-safe bowl, heat olive oil on high for 1 minute. Add garlic and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Add all other ingredients except the Feta.
Place Feta in a medium size ziplock bag and add oil/herb mixture. Place bag in a clean bowl in refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours in advance. Turn bag every now and then to keep all sides of Feta covered with oil/herb mixture.
Bring to room temperature by removing bag from refrigerator about an hour before serving. To serve, remove Feta block from bag and place on a small serving tray. Drizzle herb mixture over the top. Serve with crostini, crackers or a loaf of warm, crusty bread. Bon Appetit!
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer.
* Although any Feta cheese will work well in this flavorful recipe, Feta cheese that’s actually made in Greece is the best. We also love French Feta which is a bit lighter and creamier. Either of these can be found at your local grocers in the specialty cheese section and at Mediterranean grocers. (Yes, my Mediterranean market carries French Feta!)