Monday, March 17, 2008

Vegetable Bread Baskets

I am very fond of entertaining, and hosting parties or gatherings is one of my favorite hobbies:) The other appealing feature is that I get to try different food, especially appetizers and hors'douvres that we don't usually cook in our day-to-day lives. Though I'm not a great cook, I believe that presentation is as important as the taste of the dish; if what you see looks inviting, only then would you be tempted to put it in your mouth, right?!I recently came across a cookbook that showcased only party food recipes, and it got me really inspired. All food does not need to be exotic, but just adding a different look in cooking or presentation can surely turn eyes, and impress your guests. Like these very simple Vegetable Bread Baskets filled with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, olives and cheese. Quick and easy, these work great as appetizers or a snack with tea! These bread cups are going to dazzle the guests at HOTM-Party Foods!!

Ingredients
6 wheat or white bread slices
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup green or red bell-peppers- chopped finely
1/2 cup onions - chopped finely
4 tbsp black olives- chopped finely
1/2 cup mushrooms - chopped finely
1 cup mixed yellow and white cheese
4 tbsp margarine - melted
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup green chutney or pesto sauce
salt - to taste
black peper - to taste
3 tbsp dried basil flakes

I would strongly recommend using Green Chutney(Sauce) rather than pesto because it goes very well with the chosen vegetables. If you choose to use Pesto, I'd say replace ketchup with something else or skip it altogether!

Method
Take the bread slices, cut off their edges and keep aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, spray cooking spray on a muffin pan, then place each bread slice in the muffin cups. Shape them to form like a basket. You can even flatten them a bit using a rolling pin. Bake for 10-15 mins, making sure to check they they do not burn. It should just become hard and take the shape of a basket.

Take a pan, add 1 tbsp olive or cooking oil, and saute the onions and bell peppers until a bit tender. Add the chopped olives, and mushrooms, season with some salt, pepper and dry basil flakes, and cook a little more.

Now take each bread cup/basket, spread some green chutney with a knife, then add a spoonful of the mixture to it. Drizzle with some ketchup as required, then spread mixed cheese on the top. Lightly brush the 4 corners of the basket with melted margarine so they don't get burnt.

Transfer the cups back to the muffin pan, then bake at 200 degrees for about 7-8 minutes, just until the cheese melts. Now change the oven setting to Broil, and bake the baskets for another 1 minute.

Remove from the oven, let them cool a bit and serve immediately. These cute vegetable baskets are healthy, tasty and definitely the perfect finger food at a party.

Tip: You can add more veggies or even scrambled eggs as a variation.

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