Tantalizing tapas

Rita DeMontis, QMI Agency
Summer's Breeze Wine Cocktail (Courtesy of Jacob's Creek Moscato/ABSOLUT)

Summer's Breeze Wine Cocktail (Courtesy of Jacob's Creek Moscato/ABSOLUT)

Summer means patio season — and foods that come in bite-size portions. Grazing is the name of the game, with cool cocktails or refreshing iced teas to chase down those delicious dishes.

Famed Canadian food writer Heather Trim recently teamed up with the Peanut Bureau of Canada to create a selection of easy-to-make appetizers that we're sure will be the hit of all your patio parties and grilling get-togethers. More recipes can be found at

Cheesy Peanut Puff Pastry Straws

Don’t feel guilty about the simplicity of these hors d’oeuvres – they’re sure to be a big hit and get devoured in a flash. It’s important to finely chop the peanuts so they adhere to the pastry.


  • 2 cups (500 ml) old cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup (125 ml) salted peanuts, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) cayenne pepper
  • 1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed (14 oz/397 g)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine cheese, peanuts and cayenne pepper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of puff pastry into a 12-inch (30-cm) square. Trim to size if needed. Brush egg all over surface. Sprinkle half of cheese and peanut mixture over lower half of square, leaving about ½-inch (1-cm) border on three sides. Fold top half of pastry over bottom half, pinching edges firmly to seal. Using rolling pin, lightly roll over pastry to seal layers together. Brush with egg.

Using a sharp knife, cut rectangle vertically into ½-inch (1-cm) thick strips, each 6 inches (15 cm) long. Twist each strip several times and place in a single layer on prepared pan.

Repeat with remaining pastry and cheese mixture. Bake in centre of preheated oven, rotating pans halfway through, until straws are puffed and golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Once made, straws can be kept in an airtight container for a couple of days or frozen for a month.

Makes 44 to 48 straws.

Fig, Pear and Peanut Bruschetta

Appetizers that are both tasty and easy to make can be hard to come by. This one’s a breeze as it uses just a few ingredients and is ready in mere minutes.


  • 1 large ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) dried figs, green or black, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) finely grated ginger
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar
  • Generous grinding black pepper
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) thinly sliced green onion, about 1 large
  • â…“ cup (75 ml) lightly salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pkg. creamy goat cheese (4 oz/113 g)
  • 16 to 18 toasted baguette slices, homemade or store-bought


Place pear, figs, ginger, cloves, vinegar, sugar and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat. Cover, stirring occasionally until pear and figs soften, about 2 minutes. Discard cloves. Compote can be made ahead to this point then refrigerated up to 2 days. Stir in green onion and peanuts just before serving if compote was made ahead.

Spread about 1 tsp. (5 ml) goat cheese over each baguette slice. Top with a heaping teaspoon (about 7 ml) of barely warm or room temperature compote. Serve immediately or cover loosely and refrigerate up to 1 hour. Best served at room temperature.

Makes 16 to 18 bruschetta

Thai Peanut Chicken Pops

These hand-held easy-to-eat nibbles are perfect for any party. If there are any leftovers, they’re excellent rolled in a wrap for lunch the next day.


  • ½ cup (125 ml) natural peanut butter, preferably crunchy
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) Thai curry paste, red or green
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 20 to 24 small 6-inch (15-cm) wooden skewers
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped peanuts
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped coriander


In a medium bowl, whisk peanut butter with soy sauce, lime juice and curry paste until well blended.

Slice chicken lengthwise into ½-inch (1-cm) thick strips. Add chicken to peanut butter mixture and stir to coat well. Refrigerate chicken in marinade mixture for at least 2 hours before skewering, but preferably overnight.

Soak skewers in water. Oil grill and preheat to medium. Remove chicken from marinade and roll each strip into a spiral, inserting a skewer through each spiral to hold like a lollipop. The end pieces will be smaller, so roll with another strip. Sprinkle with salt.

Place on grill and barbecue, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve on a platter, sprinkled with peanuts and coriander.

Makes 20 to 24 pops.

Summer's Breeze Wine Cocktail

“The light vibrancy of this white wine cocktail is perfect for a lazy summer's day," says mixologist Kevin Brauch of Thirsty Traveler fame, who created this recipe to celebrate the brand new Jacob’s Creek Moscato. "It’s mixed with blackcurrant liqueur (cassis) and blood orange sorbet for a sophisticated taste, making it a great addition to your favourite summer cocktail list,” added Brauch.


  • 5 oz. Jacob’s Creek Moscato White Wine (or favourite white wine)
  • 1/4 oz. (about 1 tsp./5ml)) cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) blood orange sorbet


In a champagne flute, add sorbet and cassis, and then fill glass to top with wine. Garnish with blackcurrant and/or mint sprig.

Serves 1.