Deck the halls with Christmas starters??
November 24, 2018 6:23 PM   Subscribe

We are gearing up for our annual festive meal with friends and need to produce a starter this year and AskMeFi is bound to have some Thoughts and Suggestions. There are, of course, complications ...

Simply put, the starter will need to be cold, as the meal is hosted each year by whoever is cooking the main course and thus etiquette dictates that you don't get between the main course cook and their oven /hob. We will be travelling to said friend's house (approx 30 minutes drive) so anything sloppy is at risk and anything hot won't be by the time we get there.

Last year's starter was a prawn cocktail and our own contributions have previously included mackerel pate and red onion tarts. The main course will be duck. One person doesn't like tomatoes, another doesn't like blue cheese, everyone likes spices, no-one is vegetarian but no-one would object to an animal protein-free starter. I have the entire day to cook if necessary (meal is on a Saturday evening). A sharing platter type starter would be perfectly fine.

Hit me with your best sh(all)ots, AskMeFi.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love these endives with oranges and almonds from Smitten Kitchen.
posted by shesbookish at 6:29 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Smoked salmon, a good cream cheese, rye party bread slices (the tiny presliced ones) (with optional caviar!)

Charcuterie platter with meats, cheeses, and bread.

Tarte soleil. I made the tapenade version from Smitten Kitchen and it's very good!

Cheese straws, the kind made of cheese and paprika sandwiched between layers of puff pastry.
posted by Lycaste at 6:42 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

My suggestion is a hybrid of the first two. Endive leaves, with boursin and smoked salmon. They're super easy, very portable and delicious.
posted by jennstra at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Red pepper jelly on top of cream cheese + crackers. Sooo yum
posted by bookworm4125 at 7:02 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

My easy fancy starter item is goat cheese with lemon curd in top and then blueberries pressed into the lemon curd served with crackers. Insanely easy to make and but makes a nice impression.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:23 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also made that Smitten Kitchen Tarte Soleil and it was a hit.

But also, a big fancy artfully-arranged-on-site crudite platter with beautiful little whole carrots and endive and blanched green beans etc with miso mayo and some kind of feta-yogurt-herb dip is honestly my absolute fave (oh god, is this my mid 30s?)
posted by athirstforsalt at 8:23 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

A small dab of strawberry preserves on top of good quality pimento cheese on a cracker of your choice. Arrange bowls of cheese and preserves on a pretty plate, surround the bowls with the cracker. My go-to for party starters and everyone loves it!!
posted by pearlybob at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Along the line of pearlybob’s suggestion, pimiento cheese is great and we’ve learned it is spectacular with hot pepper jelly too.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 1:03 AM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

This Marian Morash Victory Garden recipe is always a big hit for company:

Marinated Shrimp with Onions and Cilantro

2 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp (original calls for extra jumbo shrimp, but any size will do, we often don't bother to devein them)
3/4-1 cup fresh lime juice (4 limes or so)
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 halved and very thinly sliced large red onion
1 thinly sliced lime (slice very thin)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (if you hate cilantro use fresh parsley)
1 Tbl fresh minced oregano or 1 tsp dried (I usually use dried)
salt and freshly ground pepper

To poach the shrimp:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, using enough water to cover the shrimp by at least 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon salt for each 2 quarts water. Prepare a large bowl of ice water to one side. Drop the shrimp into the boiling water. The cold shrimp will cool the water slightly, allowing the shrimp to poach. Let the water return to a simmer, but reduce the heat, if necessary, to keep the water from boiling again. Poach the shrimp until they turn pink on the outside and the tails just curl, about 1-2 minutes (To test, cut into 1 shrimp. The flesh of raw shrimp is gray and translucent; that of cooked shrimp is white and opaque.) Lift the shrimp from the pot and immediately plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking action, then drain.

Put the shrimp in a bowl, pour the lime juice over them, toss, cover, and let them marinate for at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally. then drain the shrimp, drizzle the olive oil over them, and add the onion, sliced lime, cilantro, and oregano. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss to combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 - 3 hours. Serve with toothpicks.

Note, you can substitute lemon juice and sliced lemon for the lime, if you prefer.
posted by gudrun at 7:05 AM on November 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I do antipasta skewers - they travel pretty well and you can make them the night before. I don't like olives so I don't use them. My husband doesn't like tomatoes so I do some with, some without. You can do smaller ones and only put a tortellini, mozz ball, and either a tomato or salami.

Here's a link but there are a ton of variations out there. I try to buy marinated mozzerella and I dump the whole thing over the tortellini for a while to give it some more flavor.
posted by lyssabee at 10:23 AM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

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