Caprese Bites with Speck Ham on Sour Cream Biscuits

by Jen on May 13, 2012

Walking down Via Camerelle on Italy’s Capri island once, I saw a statuesque woman with wavy golden-brown hair and flawless bronze skin. She was looking through a shop window, perhaps contemplating whether she had room in her long, slender arms to carry one more shopping bag.

She looked elegant and effortlessly put-together in her white shirt, white Capri pants (of course!), and dark, movie-star sunglasses. I see there’s a black bathing suit string peeking out from under her open collar, and a single charm necklace adorned her graceful, swan-like neck. I was immediately jealous of her beauty and of the fabulous life that she must have.

And since I love to make up stories in my head, I decided that she was either a jet-setting model, actress, or contessa, who keeps a lovely villa on Via Tragara, overlooking the dazzling Bay of Naples and those Faraglioni rocks. She spends her day taking care of business and doing some shopping (day time in the island is for tourists, after all), but it’s really at night when she comes alive. She and her dashing lover will rendezvous at the bar of Hotel Quisisana, where they’ll have a drink or two. With red-painted lips, she’ll sip her Quisi Royale – a purée of pesca (peach) and fragole (strawberry) with Laurent Perrier Champagne. He, in turn, will quaff his 250-Euro Remy Martin Louis XVIII Cognac with a debonair flair. Oh, the night is still young and one thing might lead to another…but she will worry about that tomorrow!

So, the story in my head ends there, but now, I am found wanting for a taste that reminds me of Southern Italy’s l’isola bella, Capri. Rumour has it that the famous salad of tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), and basil leavesInsalata Caprese – was born here. Naturally, all the local trattorie and ristoranti over there make it a point to remind you of that!

Today, I felt like I wanted to take a trip back to Capri, so I imagined myself perched on a rustic table by the spiaggia at Marina Piccola, as I did one summer. I see some boats loading passengers eager to head out to the popular tourist attraction, La Grotta Azzura. These people here know one secret locals guard with their life: never take a boat out from the crowded Marina Grande! In a few minutes after the boat leaves, it’s just going to be me and a bottle of San Pellegrino with a plate of heavenly Caprese. And this is what I bite into…

Traditionally, Italians made their Caprese with buffalo mozzarella (from Campagna), but I only had burrata (from Puglia) at home, so that’ll do! My specialty grocer flies them in to Toronto once a week, every Tuesday, from Puglia, Italy (see the label)!

I gathered from Italian friends also that sour cream (here, used to make the biscuits) is not a typical ingredient that can be found in local markets, especially in a tiny island on the Amalfi Coast. But like most resourceful Italians, they can make their own homemade sour cream, which they call panna acida (click here to learn how to make it).

I envisioned myself living the charmed life of Signora Capri, as I ate one morsel after another, and then another, of these Caprese bites. Yes, I added some smoked Speck ham, and I used basil caviar (pesto), and I plopped them atop sour cream biscuits. Hardly traditional. But you know what? Sometimes, I don’t feel like being boring and following any rules. I’m sure Signora Capri – she there with the golden-brown hair and flawless bronze skin – didn’t get to where she is now by being boring and following rules!


5.0 from 5 reviews
Caprese Bites with Speck Ham on Sour Cream Biscuits
Recipe Type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Makes 16 - 20
 
A light, summer appetizer inspired by the island of Capri in the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
Ingredients
  • ~~ For the sour cream biscuits ~~
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons sour cream or panna acida*
  • 1 egg + 1 more egg for brushing
  • ~~ For assembling the Caprese bites ~~
  • 5 Roma tomatoes or hot-house tomatoes, preferably organic, sliced
  • 1 cup (200 g) fresh mozzarella di bufala or burrata, sliced
  • few slices of Speck or prosciutto, cut
  • ½ cup basil pesto, preferably homemade
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 C)
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  4. Stir together the sugar, sour cream (panna acida), and 1 egg.
  5. Combine into the dry ingredients to form a smooth dough. Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  7. Roll our the dough in a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch (5 mm) thick. Use your choice of cookie cutter (it should be bigger than your tomatoes) to cut out the biscuits. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll and continue cutting as needed.
  8. Use a spatula to transfer the biscuits to the cookie sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch apart.
  9. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the tops of the cookies.
  10. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
  12. To assemble, start with the sour creme biscuits at the bottom, followed by the sliced tomatoes, followed by fresh mozzarella or burrata, then add a slice of Speck or prosciutto, and finally, a dollop of pesto. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.
Notes
In Italy, when sour cream is not readily available, you can make a homemade one called "panna acida".

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Nami | Just One Cookbook May 13, 2012 at 2:26 am

What a beautiful post Jen! The picture and story of Capri and your caprese bites are just so gorgeous!! I so wish I could be there… You have great experiences in traveling all the places and your dishes are inspired by the memories. I enjoy reading about them. Happy Mother’s Day to you! :-)

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Beth May 13, 2012 at 5:09 am

Your photos are absolutely incredible. The food looks mouth-watering, and now I’m dying to visit Capri! I also love making up back stories for people I see.

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) May 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

I love this post Jen- brought a smile to my face. Don’t we all want to play signora Capri for at least one day of our lives?! :)

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Lisa (AuthenticSuburbanGourmet) May 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

Completely loved your story – what a life in Capri! (Any Clooney spottings?) Smile. These little bites of wonderfulness are a must make. The flavors sounds simply perfect. Happy Mothers Day!!!

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Sandra's Easy Cooking May 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

Awesome story and totally rocking photos! I would love this for my lunch…TODAY! :)))
Have a phenomenal Mother’s Day, Jen!!!

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amy @ fearless homemaker May 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

these look wonderful – just perfect for a spring party appetizer. i also love your story about Capri – too cool!

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Rachel May 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Hard not to obsess over speck. And you’ve given me the travel bug. Gorgeous!

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MizzJ May 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

The story is great to make the recipe really come alive! These look so delish and I almost feel like I’m there eating it!

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Paula @ Vintage Kitchen May 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Beautiful pictures of Capri! The burrata and the prosciutto elevate the traditional caprese salad a lot!

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sally @ sallys baking addiction May 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Jen, your photos are BEAUTIFUL. You are such a talented photographer! There is nothing I love more than a fresh caprese salad – these bites are just too cute! I’ve never been to Capri, but I can only imagine the beautiful people there. :)

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Raymund May 14, 2012 at 3:01 am

Mmmm, I can smell and taste the prosciutto from here.

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Tina Ong (@PhenomenalMama) May 14, 2012 at 7:14 am

After reading this beautiful post, I suddenly realized how much I’ve missed your travel stories. I haven’t been doing a lot of traveling due to mommy duties, and your previous posts have always carried me to far away lands, allowing me a glimpse of a world.

Do keep a lot more posts like these coming. :)

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Laura @Travelocafe May 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

In the north of Spain these are called “montaditos”, or at least similar things to these. The photos are really mouth-watering. :)

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tanja@tanjascookingcorner May 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Awsome story, and absolutely mouthwatering photos! Thank you so much for sharing! Capri is on my list of travelling destinations for years now, hope to visit it soon!! Caprese Bites, perfect appetizer!!

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Priscilla @ShesCookin May 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Love your story and you are anything but boring! I would have to savor several of these untraditional Caprese bites – burrata + speck = heaven!

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Suzanne May 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Cute story, I love the caprese bites they have all my favorites in them. Beautiful photos too.

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Bunkycooks May 15, 2012 at 9:40 am

Love your photos of Capri and your story. We all need to dream and this certainly took me away to that beautiful place.

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Choc Chip Uru May 17, 2012 at 3:58 am

This beautiful place and story made this post for me :D
That and the amazing appetiser – perfect for a party!

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

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Liren May 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I think I see the title of novelist in your future! You hooked me in with your romantic story, but really, in the end, it’s the burrata that captured my heart :) These are beautiful!

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Magic of Spice May 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Lovely story and gorgeous post! And these caprese bite are just beautiful!

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Doug Wallace February 4, 2014 at 12:30 am

Love your recipe!! I included it in a feature article in my wellness blog on Tapas. The link is here —-> http://www.gaiahealthblog.com/baila-me-dance-with-me-in-granada-spain/

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