Appetizer Party
November 7, 2013 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I want to hold an appetizer party for four people. Can you help me plan?

I bought all kinds of serveware from the Target where I work and now I want to use it. Here is how I'll set up the table (for reference, the table is about 41"). Basically I want to have food that incorporates the different courses of a meal (actual appetizer, salad, maybe soup, entrees, desert) only in bite-sized, stand-alone portions. I want to use all the serveware in the picture; the four bowls are small so they could hold only dip or topping. On the platters I would hold three or four different bite-sized items each. Would ideally like one salad-type app, around three traditional apps, two entree-type apps, and a dessert.

I have some ideas such as I do want bruschetta, one-bite hamburgers, and possibly cheesecake bites. I'm just trying to figure out what kind of menu can be eclectic but still mesh well. I would like to make probably around 8 to 12 of each thing. Would mainly like homemade although I could use shortcuts (filo dough, etc) Of course I do not want to spend a fortune.
posted by daninnj to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
- [Dates/figs] stuffed with [almonds/slivered water chestnuts/chunks of sharp cheese] and wrapped in [bacon/prosciutto/breasola], then broiled. They're easy, they're customizable, they go with anything, AND they are unbearably delicious.

- Re: dips. AskMe seems to looooooove muhammara. I have also heard wonderful things about salsa di parmagiano. Both seem like they'd mix well with a variety of things.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:27 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

What about steamed dumplings? You can buy wonton wrappers at most grocery stores and you can get creative about the filling. One of my favorites is shrimp, green onion, cabbage, and mint, with a little toasted sesame oil for flavor. I think that you can use any kind of steamer, and you can put the dipping sauce in one of those little bowls. Memail if you want more specifics.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:35 AM on November 7, 2013

You can do soups in shot glasses! For extra fun you put something on a toothpick that you would normally float it a bigger bowl, like a crouton, matzah ball, cheese cube, herby shrimp, etc. Depending on the rest of your menu you can figure out a soup to go with any cuisine on the planet. But go with something relatively smooth, or a puree, for easier drinking.
posted by Mizu at 10:36 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bruschetta and sliders are both bready - think about balancing that out with something non-starchy and refreshing.

Like a tiny salad of diced fruit and veg served in endive cups.
posted by bunderful at 10:36 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, I would be remiss if I did not bring to your attention the magical creation called Rumaki. They are incredibly stupidly delicious.
posted by Mizu at 10:40 AM on November 7, 2013

You could do caprese salad bites: Cherry tomato, leaf of basil, boccaccini (mini-mozzarella ball) on a skewer/toothpick. They take a while to assemble but whenever I've served them people gobble them up.
posted by macadamiaranch at 10:44 AM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

I really like Bittman's list of 101 Appetizers in 20 minutes because it's divided into categories: breads, bruschettas, toothpicks, dips, sliders, etc. Might be an easy way to figure out what dish is going to go with each serving item, if you already have ideas about what type might work best. I've made many items from that list and all are pretty solidly good; I always get asked to make the cayenne pears with bacon, though (#26).
posted by stellaluna at 10:50 AM on November 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

Caprese "salad":

half a cherry tomato
half a mini ball of fresh mozzarella
small basil leaf
speared together on a toothpick
posted by Pax at 11:17 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and chives!
posted by rmless at 11:41 AM on November 7, 2013

I'd pick a cuisine to make it coordinated and give you a flavor profile. Can be fusion/hybrid/regional, not strict.

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern
Asian (fusion, or a specific country)
"American" comfort food
Seasonal (fall/winter flavors)
Spanish (tapas)

Bruschetta and and mini-hamburgers already seem like they don't "mesh well" to me.
posted by amaire at 12:21 PM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'd use the leaf of endive as a lettuce base for a salad and perhaps a nice slaw in it. Or you can do your bruschetta in there. I'd use a mixture of heirloom tomatoes, red, yellow and purple for a festive pop of color.

This apple, blue cheese and hazelnut salad in endive, looks so yummy and it reeks of autumn!

Typical hot, entree apps are meatballs, little hot dogs, skewers of meat and chicken wings. Nice and meaty and you can do a bazillion things.

Little hot dogs in blankets. (You can buy them pre-prepared, or DIY.) Little hot dogs in barbeque is easy and tasty too. Change it up by getting artisanal sausages and different doughs. You can put a sauce on the wrap, then roll the sausage. Boo-YA, fancy pigs-in-a-blanket.

Devils on Horseback are scrumptious. Any creamy cheese, roasted nut, crammed in a date will do as well.

Someone I know, swears by meatballs in grape jelly and sirracha. I quirk my eyebrow, but the guy knows his noms.

You can do oodles of things with skewers. Thai peanut sauce, chicken and veggies with mediterranian seasonings, etc. Once I did a couple of tortellini on skewers, with a nice dipping sauce. There are some seasonal pre-made ravioli at places like Aldi and Trader Joes. A pumpkin ravioli in a butter sage sauce would be so autumn-flavory it's not even funny.

For wings you can do buffalo, barbecue or asian.

For soup, if you are SUPER ambitious, you can do Soup Dumplings. I love these things but it is a PRODUCTION! You will amaze your friends though. Serve them out of a Chinese spoon (although I am OVER that as a presentation method. Done. To. Death.) I'd skip soup though, hard to eat as an appetizer.

Shrimp cocktail, always a crowd pleaser.

As for dessert, chocolate fondue. Serve with a huge plate of things one would enjoy dipping in chocolate, Bites of cake and brownies. Fruit, like bananas, strawberries and pineapple. Rice Krispy squares and marshmallows.

Some of these ideas are so Old-School. I have been giving cocktail parties for forever and these are tried and true things that people love and will happily scarf down.

As for nibblies in other areas, here are mortal locks.

Potato chips with Lipton Onion Soup Dip
Hummus and carrots and pita chips for dipping
Knorr Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl (back in the day, they were baked like turtles.)

Here are things that, for whatever reason, sink like a lead balloon:

Sheet cake
Cheese board
Veggie platters

Have a great time!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2013

Mini Parmesan cheese crisp bowls.* Fill with your choice of filling, such as a mini Cesear salad!

Sorry for the link, but it's a good description of the recipe/process.
posted by slogger at 12:35 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something I should do more because it's so popular in the family is cook pita-bread pizza-slices. Use store-bought pita bread as the base for little triangular pizza pieces, with whatever filling you like. The simpler the better: olive oil, a smear of pesto, a slice of tomato and some cheese on top. Into the oven till the cheese has melted with golden streaks. My daughter just reminded me that she even likes the vegetables she doesn't like if they are prepared in this way: squash, egg-plant, bell-pepper.

Or small rounds of toast, water biscuits or rye bread with tuna paste. I know this recipe sounds crazy, and it should only be for special occasions, but hear me out: a can of good quality tuna in water, drained. An equal amount of best quality salted European butter cut into 1/2 inch squares. 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise. 1/2 tomato. 2-3 spring onions, only the white part. 2 tablespoons capers, drained. A good squeeze of lemon or lime. Pepper to taste. Process all ingredients thoroughly in blender or something, turn into bowl, refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Either serve turned out on a platter to form a "mousse", with toast or biscuits on the side, or serve as bruschette. Either way, decorate with more capers and watercress or dill. This recipe is the main reason my children love me. They are tall and slender, so I am good at rationing it. You can leave out the tomato, and you can tune the savoriness/fattiness with the onions and mayo. Also, chili or paprika may replace/supplement the pepper. But the 1:1 tuna:butter ratio is vital, and so is the quality of the fish and butter. If you insist on doing it with tuna in oil, leave out the mayo.

You can do something very similar to this with a pack of frozen chicken or duck liver. Again: 1:1 liver and butter. Capers, onions, pepper. But here you use a little of the butter to gently roast the (thawed) liver and onions, then add capers, pepper and wine or spirits (brandy or calvados) to the pan, cook until all alcohol has evaporated. Then you process the whole thing with butter and maybe a drop or two of balsamico or a teaspoon of port wine. Refrigerate in a bowl for 3-4 hours and serve. Here, I use lettuce and sliced cornichons as garnish. Hey, liver is good for you!

Both these dishes keep very well, if you are cooking one or two days in advance. The butter preserves the dish. I've never had leftovers.

I also make little filo-packages with anything I have in the kitchen. THe main principle is that the scale of the filling should match the scale of the package. If the package is small, I grind up the contents in the blender. If it's larger, I'll cut stuff into tiny squares. But any leftovers will do, even a sausage, blended, maybe with some fresh herbs and a boiled potato in the mix. A little leftover beef, gravy and peas - a quail's egg can be added here for sophistication. Some orientally-spiced hamburger with or without chopped potato. Or completely simple: a piece of fresh cheese, chopped up with parsley or basil.

Here, I can buy fresh ravioli with a cheese and truffle stuffing. I deep-fry them for lovely appetizers.

I came in here to compliment the tableware, though. Looks great!
posted by mumimor at 2:08 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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