What’s an Hors d’oeuvre? Other than a word I really need to think hard about how to spell it, it’s the literal French word for “apart from the main work”. We know it as another word for appetizers, starter, first course or amuse-bouche. Typically serve to whet guests appetite while they wait for the main meal, it is meant to be one to two bites, easy to consume and with balanced flavors that entice. And entice we will, because today a Virtual Potluck party starts!


It’s the beginning to a month long Virtual Potluck party hosted by California Olive Ranch and Bob’s Red Mill. “A Tasty and Healthy New Year Resolution Challenge”, is where you’ll learn more about cooking with olive oil and whole grain products as healthy and tasty alternatives in menu creations, while discovering recipes developed specifically with whole grains and olive oil in mind.You can check out a round up of all the recipes over at The Groovy Foody!

Back to that fancy word, hors d’oeuvre. There are just a few guidelines to make your small bites successful:

  • Focus on flavor: balance out sweet with salty, sour with umami.
  • Remember textures: crispy bases and silky spreads; crunchy vegetables with fluid dips.
  • Paint with colors: you can stick to the same color palette with different tones or really make your mark and use contrasting colors.

Our first flavor guests to this virtual potluck are California Olive Ranch’s Arbequina Olive Oil and Bob’s Red Mill Hard White Whole Wheat Flour. The oil, a fruity addition and the flour, earthy and slightly sweet; both bringing their best to the table. I wanted to showcase the structural focus of the flour, so I adapted a recipe from Maria Speck’s Ancient Grains for Modern Meals cookbook and whipped the oil in a mixture of roasted red peppers and cream cheese.

Lemon & Thyme Olive Oil Wheat Crackers
Adapted from “Ancient Grains for Modern Meals” by Maria Speck
1 cup Hard White Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon vanilla salt
1/4 cup Arbequina Olive Oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  1. Whisk dry ingredients together and reserve.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, sugar and thyme leaves. Incorporate into dry ingredients, without overmixing.
  3. Roll into log with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Slice cookies into 1/2 inch or less. Place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown.
  6. You can leave round or cut edges off to shape into square cookies like I did. Reserve in airtight container.
Roasted Red Pepper Spread
1/2 red pepper
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Arbequina Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Brush red pepper with olive oil and roast until charred. Remove from oven and place in a covered container to remove skin.
  2. Chop roasted red pepper and add to cream cheese. Whip with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Top cookies with a dollop of this spread and decorate with a sprig of thyme.
California Olive Ranch and Bob’s Red Mill 
Week One Giveaway!! 
Enter to win a perfect pairing of California Olive Ranch Arbequina Oil
and Hard White Whole Wheat Flour from Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Visit either Bob’s Red Mill or California Olive Ranch Facebook pages and retrieve this week’s Virtual Potluck code word. Then use that code word in a sentence in the comments section of this blog post.

Additional Entries:

  • For an extra entry: Follow BRM, COR and VirtualPotluck‘s Twitter profiles and tweet about the contest linking to the blog you’re entering from and using the #virtualpotluck hashtag. Then comment again, letting us know you’ve done so, by providing the link to your tweet.
  • More Blogs, More Ways to Win: Get additional entries in each week’s giveaways by visiting our host blog and finding other participating VP bloggers sites to comment on.

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  1. I’d never heard of ARBEQUINA olives, but I’m looking forward to try the olive oil in these hors d’oeuvres

  2. These look sooo good and a beautiful presentaion, too! I really love what I’m reading about the California Arbequina Olive Oil…it sounds top notch for baking, dipping and for dressings. Hope I can find it at the market!

  3. These hors d’oeuvres look sooo tasty! Thanks for the whole grains and Arbequina olive oil giveaway 🙂

  4. Way to use the Arbequina olive oil and wheat flour. My mouth is actually watering reading over your recipe. The crackers look awesome and I love roasted peppers.