Help me feed the bozos on this bus
May 19, 2010 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I need hors d'oeuvre-y ideas for a company party this Saturday. Details and caveats inside...

My wife's boss is treating the employees and spouses to a little party this Saturday. It starts with a bus trip down to a winery. Once at the winery, we will have a pitch-in, with all the wine provided for. And we'll have a band. It should be fun.

The couples are tasked with bringing both a snack-ish item for the bus trip and an hors d'oeuvre-y something for the pitch-in at the winery. For whatever reason, we are stumped, especially with the winery pitch-in. Because of the wines, we feel like we need to come-up with something beyond our standard 4 or 5 party dishes we seem to always make.

Caveats: We, ourselves, need to keep things relatively affordable and simple, so, please, no super-obscure foodie ingredients that only come from a specific valley in Mongolia that you can only get online once a year. Unemployment has required us to reign-in expenses. And, of course, we're in Indiana.

We would like to stick with cold items. I'm pretty sure there will be outlets for warmers and whatnot, but we would really rather not have to schlep a chaffing dish or fondue pot down with us on the bus. But, we will consider making an exception if you have an utterly amazing idea.

So, please, help us out with some yummy-yet-affordable finger food ideas!
posted by Thorzdad to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe it's a regional phrase, but what's a pitch-in?
Are you giving them a meal or is it just apps or just bites to go with wine?

To accompany wine, I would go with Spanish Almonds, an Olive selection, Endive leaves with spread/filling, and cheese plates - the sorts of things that have bold, simple flavors.
posted by jardinier at 8:33 AM on May 19, 2010

Pitch-in = potluck?

Hummus and pita is cheap and easy, and there are limitless variations.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:41 AM on May 19, 2010

Cheese straws! They're tasty as all get out, and I think the most exotic ingredient is cheddar cheese. I've usedthis recipe and they were devoured.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry. Pitch-in = Everyone brings something to share. In this particular case, better/interesting finger-foods.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:44 AM on May 19, 2010

Make a nice, crusty loaf of bread into a bread bowl and fill it with dip, then serve the extra bread and some vegetables on the side.
posted by spinto at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2010

For the bus trip, how about finger sandwiches? Benedictine is a fantastic and simple filling (though I'd skip the food coloring, myself).

For the winery, I'll suggest one of my favorite small hors d'oeuvres: peppadew peppers stuffed with a blend of feta, cream cheese and a bit of chopped parseley, with an almond inserted. Peppadews can be found at most major grocery stores now (you can even find peppadews in the deli/olive bar at my local, small Indiana town Kroger). Spanish (marcona) almonds are wonderful, but if they're not available, any type of roasted, unsalted almond will be great.
posted by amelioration at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

If there will be plates and utensils at the winery, chickpea salad. It's delicious, it's not standard party food, and it doesn't get much cheaper than beans. If it's finger-food only, I'll second cheese straws or breasticks. A bit more time effort called for on your part perhaps, but people go apeshit over homemade bread items.
posted by hungrybruno at 9:11 AM on May 19, 2010

Seconding the olives, cheeses, nuts suggestion. You can put everything in individual ziplock bags, pack into a small cooler or one of those insulated bags (hot/cold), along with a decorative plate, cocktail napkins, a cheese slicer and you're good to go. Maybe a tub of Alouette spreadable cheese and some pre-sliced pepperoni and stone-wheat crackers to round it out.

I've packed many a wine and cheese beach picnic, and by putting everything in the ziplocs, you save time on onsite prep, and the only thing you're bringing home is the plate.
posted by mnb64 at 9:14 AM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: Bread's always a possibility. I can whip-up a homemade focaccia with rosemary that day.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: Take about 3/4 lb of chevre, slap it in a food processor with a couple tablespoons each of heavy cream and sour cream. Add your choice of garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary (I'd pick two), add a tablespoon of lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Slap it in a bowl lined with plastic wrap.

Take it along chilled. Bring along some lemon zest and chopped herb to garnish. Invert on some variety of platter, serve with crackers (I prefer an onion-flavored variety). Make a depression in the top of the creamy chevre and fill it with a high quality oil (I generally roll with walnut oil here). You can also bring some mixed veggies with this.

Another favorite (if you're doing reds) is bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with some variety of bleu cheese. Stuff, wrap, in the oven at 375 until crispy, flip once. They're like bacon candy!
posted by bfranklin at 9:40 AM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Amp up your homemade focaccia with caramelized onions, thyme (fresh or dried) and fontina cheese. Sort of a cross between pizza and focaccia.
posted by sarajane at 9:40 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Instead of just hummus and pita, turn the pita in to pita chips. Split "pocket" pitas into their halves, brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and some seasoning - maybe cayenne pepper, maybe a mild curry powder, maybe some dried oregano or other herbs... then cut into triangles and bake till golden brown and crispy.

If you can get prosciutto, goat cheese, and dried figs... depending on the size of the figs you may want to halve them, then wrap the figs with a spoonful of goat cheese (of about the same size as the fig) in a slice of prosciutto. Nice tasty little bite-size packages. I made these for a party once and they were a huge hit.
posted by dnash at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2010

Hazelnuts roasted (in the toaster over or oven) with rosemary - super-simple and a huge hit at every party we serve them. They'd be easy on the bus, but would also go well with wine.
Just rub the nuts lightly with olive oil, get some fresh rosemary and strip the leaves from three or four long sprigs and sprinkle over the hazelnuts (also known as filberts in some quarters). Put in either a toaster over or broiler and watch carefullly - pull out partway through and stir/turn to prevent burning. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes (at most).

My other favorite finger food is steamed asparagus served cold, dressed with a bit of sesame oil, light drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and topped with toasted sesame seeds. Steam the asparagus until crisp-tender. Chill and dress with a (very) light drizzle of sesame oil and a (slightly-less-light) drizzle of a good balsamic vinegar, then top with toasted sesame seeds (I toast 'em myself in the toaster oven, after buying bulk - way cheaper that way, just watch them carefully so they don't burn). This would be better for the pitch-in, and would also go well with wine - especially whites.
posted by dbmcd at 9:57 AM on May 19, 2010

Wee tiny bruschetta rounds: dice tomatoes, toss with balsamic, salt, pepper, olive oil and grated garlic. Let it marinate while you slice up a baguette. Either spread the baguette rounds with soft cheese if you're going to assemble ahead of time or let people scoop up tomato-goo themselves at the event (lest things get too soggy).

Also: dates stuffed with almonds, wrapped in bacon, baked 'til nice and brown and crispy. These are perfectly fine cold, and are also shamefully addictive.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:18 AM on May 19, 2010

Prosciutto & melon?

Dill dip?

Crabmeat wedges (yes, weird and very 50s but always a hit)?
posted by charlesv at 10:41 AM on May 19, 2010

An easy appetizer I love: Plain Triscuits with cream cheese, topped with Pickapeppa Sauce. Easy, quick, cheap and different.
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:42 AM on May 19, 2010

No one has suggested it yet, but you should look at this Mark Bittman article. Personally, I would still go the olives/almonds/cheese route, but there are a lot of great and very affordable ideas there.
posted by Gilbert at 11:10 AM on May 19, 2010

On the sweet side - strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar for dipping. The tang and caramel-molasses notes from the brown sugar can enliven even indifferent strawberries.

Midwest wines tend to be way sweet (in my experience), so it can be hard to put them with savory snacks (olives) with good results.
posted by janell at 11:29 AM on May 19, 2010

Texas Caviar (from the cowgirl hall of fame) is always excellent. It makes a huge amount, and gets better the longer it sits.

Have you ever had a pan bangat? It's a very simple sandwich that you can make in large scale as a tuna salad, then just have bread available for everyone to eat their portions, or even by itself: delicious no-mayo tuna salad.

And really, a number of nice cheese, breads & spreads should keep everyone happily nibbling away. For the crunch factor, throw in some popcorn chickepeas.

Have fun!
posted by soleilMia at 12:03 PM on May 19, 2010

Stuff some dates or figs with blue cheese and walnuts. Not hard, totally impressive, extremely delicious.
posted by little light-giver at 7:43 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: bfranklin gets the first (but not last) Best Answer for the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese. I went with these little bacon bombs for the evening at the winery.

I was concerned that, because of the time-lag between pulling them out of the over and serving time was on the order of close to two hours, they might end up cold and rubbery. This was not the case, thanks to a pan carrier with two microwave heat packs. They arrived on the scene nicely warm.

Half of them disappeared within the first 10-15 minutes.

We had a band at the winery party. Between sets, the band had a run through the food everyone brought. Halfway through their second set, the band gave a shoutout to the bacon-wrapped dates. You know you've got a winner when the band gives an hors d'oeuvre props in the middle of their set.

Yeah...they're that good.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:06 AM on May 23, 2010

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