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Whether you’re trying to impress your friends with how classy you are, or you’re just sick of eating mac’n’cheese and hot dogs (I’ve been babysitting a lot…), it’s good to know how to throw together an appetizer/cold cuts plate. I’m talking about a grown-up appetizer plate, not a bag of Fritos and some bean dip (not that there’s anything wrong with Fritos and bean dip…they’re delicious). Last night I was shopping for ingredients for my gazpacho (recipe coming soon to theaters near you now playing here). I had a loaf of french bread, but i wasn’t going to need all of it, so I decided to make a light dinner out of the rest of it. I picked up a little salami from the deli counter, and a handful of cheese fragments. I shop mostly at Ralph’s, and they always have a basket of small wedges of really nice cheeses that typically cost around $1 each. Look for something like this at your grocery store. Nothing says fancy like offering a selection of artisan cheese. Try to get a variety–mild and strong, creamy and hard. I got a manchego, a gouda goat, an applewood cheddar, and something raspberry because it sounded interesting. I also got an extra tomato, because I like to eat all of the food groups. I try to be healthy…

I brought all of this stuff home, cut a few thick slices of the bread, sliced up the tomato and sprinkled it with garlic salt and pepper, and laid out the bread, tomato, salami, and cheese wedges on a big wooden cutting board, along with a little bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It looked way pretty and rustic and stuff.

And there you have it. Instant, classy, inexpensive hor devours. Or, in my case, dinner for one. I don’t share well with others. Just add a bottle of Two Buck Chuck Charles Shaw and pick a classy Pandora station, like Dean Martin or something, pretend you have some manners, and people will think you’re super sophisticated.

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