Gerard Craft grew up in Washington, DC, eating lots of Maryland blue crab. Here, he creates a very simple and delicious starter by tossing sweet crabmeat with fresh mint and lime juice, then spooning it over mashed avocado on toast. You can make the toasts or buy store-bought ones to save time.
This supercrispy tempura from chef Michael Schlow is one of his favorites. "I love anything fried, and it's the perfect cocktail party dish since no knife or fork is necessary," he says. Try serving the tempura with different sauces, like a high-quality soy sauce or curried mayonnaise.
As a dairy-free alternative to creamy dips, the recipe here calls for pureeing sweet peas with scallions, ginger and jalapeño, then seasoning the mix with yellow miso. Serve the spread with different kinds of crackers and breads or sugar snap peas and celery for dipping.
In Mario Batali's riff on the traditional antipasto of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, he wraps spears in pancetta (which, unlike prosciutto, becomes nicely crispy when cooked) and grills them. Adding a bit of tanginess is the citronette, a marvelously bright-tasting mustardy-orange dressing.
Mauricio Couly uses a mix of spinach, fava beans, green beans and a good amount of mint. He makes his own paprika-spiced empanada dough; store-bought empanada wrappers (available in the freezer section of many supermarkets and specialty food stores) work well, too.
A generous portion of bay leaves in the steaming liquid here permeates the artichoke leaves and hearts with flavor and provides an enticing aroma as you serve the dish. The scallion vinaigrette balances the sweetness of the artichokes.
Grace Parisi's Calabrian grandmother always used plain white rice to make her incredible arancini (rice balls), but she prefers to cook with plump arborio because she thinks it makes the insides creamier.
“When I was a kid, my mom fried zucchini fritters when I got home from school; I would steal a couple while they were still hot,” says Didem Senol. “My grandmother fried them, too; she’d make the patties thin and dense. When I started cooking, I decided to work on my childhood recipe. I added herbs and feta and reduced the amount of flour to make them fluffier.” The fritters are terrific on their own or dipped into the yogurt-cucumber sauce.