I’m always looking for an excuse to host a party. So, when Vince had to take an overnight trip out of town I decided to have a hors d’oeuvres tasting party. Thankfully, I have brave girlfriends who are always willing to help me test new potential recipes for my catering menu and column. 

I think our most recent girls night was a great success! I had never tasted a Dirty Martini until that very night. Delicious! 

We sampled Mediterranean style appetizers and enjoyed lots of fun conversation. It’s so great to have friends who all enjoy being together! 

Celebrate Friendship! Celebrate Everything!

The Recipes:

Not a fan of lamb? Pork tenderloin is just as tasty!
4-5 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons oregano
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon black pepper
Pita bread
Tatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
Diced white onion
Diced tomatoes
In a gallon sized zip-lock baggie, combine the lamb, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, red wine, olive oil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight. Thread meat onto skewers. Grill for approximately 20 minutes. Serve with pita bread and tatziki sauce. Garnish with diced onion and tomatoes. Serves 8 to 10.

Tatziki Sauce
Tatziki sauce is typically made with plain Greek yogurt. Try this version made with sour cream for a new twist!
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, dill, cucumber and garlic. Mix well; taste and season with salt and pepper. Served chilled.

Gourmet Chopped Salad
Chopped salads are easy and fun to make! Fresh salad materials are chopped into small pieces, so every bite has several ingredients. This chopped salad can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Toss with the vinaigrette just before serving.
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce (1 large head)
1 English cucumber, diced
8 artichoke hearts, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped red peppadews (optional)
½ cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
2 tablespoons capers
½ cup feta cheese crumbles
Store bough Greek vinaigrette, to taste
Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl; dress with vinaigrette just before serving.  Serves 8 to 10.

Mediterranean Dip
Use store bought refrigerated hummus for this recipe.
1 (16-ounce) container hummus
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
Fresh Italian parsley, to garnish
Spread hummus evenly in a flat serving dish. Top with crumbled feta cheese, diced red bell pepper, diced cucumber and kalamata olives. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley. Serve chilled or at room temperature with pita chips and carrot chips. Serves 8.

Spinach Dip Buns
Serve the dip-filled buns warm or at room temperature.
12 (1-ounce each) whole wheat rolls
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons diced pimento
Red bell pepper sticks
Celery sticks
Carrot sticks
Hollow out the insides of rolls being careful not to cut through the bottoms. Squeeze spinach dry. Combine spinach with cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic and diced pimento. Fill each roll with prepared spinach dip. Garnish with vegetable sticks. Serves 12.

Dirty Martini
We liked our martinis very dirty! Add as much olive brine as you like – the dirtier the better!
6 ounces vodka
Dash dry vermouth
1 ounce olive brine
Stuffed green olives, to garnish
Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add vodka, vermouth and olive brine. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with stuffed green olives. Serves 1.

Debbi Covington is a chef, caterer, cookbook author and food columnist from Beaufort, SC. She has written two cookbooks, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi writes the food column “Everyday Gourmet” in Beaufort’s Lowcountry Weekly newspaper and is a partner/food columnist with DIY Wedding Magazine. Debbi has been featured as a “Master of Entertaining” in Southern Living magazine and her recipes have been published in multiple cookbooks including Southern Living’s Best Kept Secrets of the South’s Best Cooks and The Best of The Best of South Carolina. Her food has been photographed for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. She has been voted “Best Caterer” in Beaufort, SC since 2010. Debbi has a passion for cuisine and delights in creating seasonal and locally inspired menus.