Fabulous food for a hip party?
May 31, 2007 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I need recipes and ideas for appealing appetizers and cool party food for a hip get-together!

I'm going to throw a (town)housewarming party this summer. My roommate and I are hip, young people, and the townhouse is going to be decorated in a retro modern style. Since this will be my first grownup party ever, I want the food to be as fabulous as we are.

I'm thinking food that's somewhat simple to prepare, has affordable ingredients, will look great presentation-wise, and is of course tasty. I'm open to any cuisine, and we will have a lot of vegetarian guests. Thanks!
posted by lychee to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Parmesan Bites usually go over well at our soirees.
posted by dr_dank at 1:57 PM on May 31, 2007

Turtle candies - incredibly easy to make (bulk of the time is peeling the wrappers off of the Rollos) and can look quite nice (I let the candy melt a bit more than the ones in this picture). They're also powerfully addictive.
posted by librarianamy at 2:08 PM on May 31, 2007

-Bruchetta is a huge hit every time.
-Chocolate dipped berries are very easy to make.
-Good mixes of olives and peppers in oil with good baguette slices are a favorite of mine.
-Almond Lace Cookies are SO GOOD and very easy to make.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:12 PM on May 31, 2007

Make Tapas! Many are really easy and look great. The link is just the first one I found. You can find way more I'm sure.

Also try Epicurious.com and Vegetarian Times. I've tried this one from the VT and it turned out great.
posted by elendil71 at 2:21 PM on May 31, 2007

We once had a "make your own damn sandwich" party, so named because I had, while initially dating my now-wife, brought home dinner in the form of sandwich fixin's and proceeded to make her a sandwich because they always taste better when someone else makes 'em. So "making your own damn sandwich" became a euphamism for being strong and independent, and not needin' nobody nohow.

So just typical sandwich fixin's, but a bit of story to go with it, and if you get people to agree that sandwiches taste better when made by other people, they'll start making sandwiches for each other.
posted by davejay at 2:23 PM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Prosciutto & Asparagus rolls.

1) trim asparagus to 3-4" length (tips only; save the rest for soup or something)
2) Steam, but leave a bit of crunch; allow to cool
3) wrap in a piece of prosciutto, allowing tip to poke out
4) season with ground white pepper
5) wrap in a shiso leaf
6) consume them all before any of those bastards gets their dirty paws on MY FOOD DAMMIT MINE
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:25 PM on May 31, 2007

if you can find the ingredients, make okonomiyaki!

I guess it's a little weird looking but you can add/subtract whatever you like, so easy to make vegetarian, and make smaller ones maybe.

Or.. a nice quiche always goes over well doesn't it?
posted by citron at 2:25 PM on May 31, 2007


1) Watermelon amuse-bouches
- cut (good) watermelon into cubes
- scoop out a small dimple in the top
- fill with (good, syrupy) balsamic vinegar (the real stuff, mind you; Balsamico di Modena--not the awful stuff you get in most grocery stores)

2) Mushroom pate (recipes abound) served with gorgonzola and figs on toast points

3) Risotto balls
- make risotto the night before. Mushroom is good. Refrigerate overnight.
- cut some good buffalo mozzarella into smallish cubes (the size of d6 dice), or get the leetle teeny tiny ones
- form cold risotto into balls around the cheese
- fry in olive oil, turning often
- season with sea salt, serve piping hot
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:29 PM on May 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Traditionally made with pork or shrimp, they can be easily outfitted to be completely veggie. They are simple to make and require little to no cooking. Slice them in half on the diagonal and they make sophisticated appetizers. Make a traditional one and let yourself explore with other fillings if you have time.

Heres a sample recipe. Traditionally they are done with a lot of the herbs listed and thats where most of your flavor is going to come from, so don't skimp!

Don't forget to make the dip. There are several that you can use including a traditional peanut sauce (my mom uses hoison sauce with a little bit of peanut butter) or nuoc cham!
posted by modernsquid at 2:29 PM on May 31, 2007

Ooo and speaking of pate, i had a very delicious lentil pate with a vegetarian friend the other day. He sent me the recipe. I have yet to try it but if you'd like me to forward it along, just email. Its in my profile.
posted by modernsquid at 2:32 PM on May 31, 2007

If you're open to fake meat, Tofurky & asparagus rolls are delicious. Roughly the same as dirtynumbangelboy - steam the asparagus, roll in slices of Tofurky, and it's fantastic.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:32 PM on May 31, 2007

Oh, and I'm told that good prosciutto (de parma if you can afford it) is wonderful wrapped around cantaloupe and honeydew melon pieces. I've made it but not tried it, being a veg-head. Wrap it, stick a toothpick in it, chill it, voila! Serve with a Pinot Grigio or perhaps a not-too-big California Chardonney.
posted by elendil71 at 2:32 PM on May 31, 2007

Hummus and baba ghanoush are very easy to make. Serve with toasted pita cut into triangles and fresh seasonal veggies cut into bite-sized pieces. Looking at CUESA's seasonal veggies chart for June, I think carrot and celery sticks, small tomatoes and tomatillos, roasted mushrooms, and chunks of fresh cucumbers or roasted zucchini/kabocha squash would all taste great with either dip. Just pick one to make as they're similar in texture.
posted by junesix at 2:33 PM on May 31, 2007

Real Simple has some good ideas and easy, yummy recipes. Also, check out Food Network's housewarming party menu (or any of their party menus).
posted by logic vs love at 2:39 PM on May 31, 2007

deviled eggs are SO easy to make fancy: you can just do the typical mustard-mayo-yolk-paprika mix, but try also:

yolks, smoked salmon and capers w/cream cheese and scallions (puree in blender)

mustard, mayo, and caviar

yolks, a bit of olive oil, black olives

bacon bits

go crazy!
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:09 PM on May 31, 2007

dates wrapped in bacon are a constant hit at our parties. Take a date. Wrap in bacon. Shove a toothpick through it. Bake (380 for about half an hour? I dunno). Make sure there is somewhere for the fat to drain cos you don't want them sitting in it.
posted by gaspode at 3:22 PM on May 31, 2007

Baked Cheese Grits
  • Prepare grits on the thick side (less water), at least 6 servings worth.
  • Add cheese and cheap canned mushroom bits while still hot and stir to melt and distribute.
  • Spread 1/2" thick in pan and after cooled somewhat, refrigerate to further set.
  • Cut into 3/4" trapezoids and place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 375° until browned, maybe 20 minutes or longer
Tell everybody that they are baked Polenta with exotic mushrooms and cheeses. After all the hipsters nod knowingly and eat them, tell them that they really ate grits, a Southern redneck favorite.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:25 PM on May 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

What we call "caprese bites" are always a summer hit. You need the following:
cherry tomatoes
fresh mozzarella (regular mozzarella works well too) cut into chunks
basil leaves
balsamic vinegar
good extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Thread the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves on toothpicks. Arrange on a platter. Drizzle with the vinegar and oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Looks steller on a white serving platter.
posted by TungstenChef at 3:28 PM on May 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you go with deviled eggs, two caveats:
1. Making large batches stinks up your house
2. Peeling numerous eggs is tiresome and destroys your fingers.

I LOVE the "make your own damn sandwich" idea. And sandwiches are kinda retro, in a picnic food sort of way.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:02 PM on May 31, 2007

Monkeysaltednuts: Oddly, in San Francisco, Southern/country comfort food is experiencing a revival and has become the "in" cuisine. The trend is now to label polenta as grits! Even better if it's made with organic/local/sustainable/biodynamically-grown corn.
posted by junesix at 4:49 PM on May 31, 2007

vegetarian sushi rolls! if you've never made sushi before, try it before the party--it's a little bit tricky at first but easy to get the hang of. nori is the most expensive ingredient, and a $5 packet can make about 60-100 pieces. it's a little bit time consuming, but if you set it up assembly-line style and do a bunch, it's actually pretty simple. (and a party is the perfect time to do this, because otherwise you'll have leftover sushi sitting around for several days, and that's not so great) serve with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce, of course.
posted by lgyre at 5:22 PM on May 31, 2007

Similar to gaspode's suggestion, one of my mother's favorites is maraschino cherries wrapped with bacon. Sweet with crispy fatty just works.
posted by Meagan at 5:38 PM on May 31, 2007

If you're feeling excessively artistic, steal some ideas from here - I like the atomic olives, myself.
posted by zamboni at 5:46 PM on May 31, 2007

Gruyere gougeres.
posted by oflinkey at 6:09 PM on May 31, 2007

Hello, Hip young people!

This should be the theme of your party.

If you are in fact hip young people, Try things on toast or ironical reto Ritz cacker cream cheeze and piminto snacks or maybe bread cubes with gruyere fondue. Or try hip young non-feeding tables featuring (redacted drug reference)

supermarket sushi? or ask a chinois ristorante to bring steamed dumplings.

Have you considered a formal sit down dinner? might be memorable!

Be sure to put "Hip young people" on the invitations.
posted by longsleeves at 8:23 PM on May 31, 2007

A variety of cheeses and crackers. Depending on your budget, invest in some cheese knives and boards. My friend bought a bunch on sale at Crate and Barrel and it looked fantastic. Also, check out Trader Joes. I believe they have an awesome bacon wrapped scallops appetizer dish that is friggin tasty. My friend also made bacon wrapped figs which were also quite tasty and unique.
posted by like_neon at 1:03 AM on June 1, 2007

Look to your username: Lychees, if you can get them, are fragrant little wonders. And by 'fragrant' I mean, so perfumed that I can only really eat about six of them in a day, if I really try. They are just coming into season here in Taiwan; I don't know where you are.

As far as other things to munch, I tend to go for strong flavors in little packages. Kalamata olives; feta cheese bites alongside cubes of watermelon; thumb-thick bundles of enoki mushrooms wrapped in thin ham and grilled with a teriyaki sauce; a Camembert cheese cut into little wedges or a number of cubes of Tillamook Pepper Jack, either one accompanied by Granny Smith apples in slices.

(Don't cut the apple in wedges like Mom used to do; cut it in half, then lay the cut side down and make a series of parallel vertical cuts through the half so you end up with several semicircles of different sizes. Ignore stem, core, seeds, and blossom. If you repack these slices in their original apple shape, you can do them well in advance without the cut surfaces turning brown. (A day in advance, if you wrap them in plastic.) And when you're ready to serve, set the half-apple down on a platter and just slide the slices parallel to the cuts into some fancy-looking shape that will make it easier to pick up just one.)

As not-hip as this may seem, go get some tortilla chips. But the kind with lime flavoring. Tostitos is the brand name that comes to mind. Put them in a nice bowl, don't let anybody see the bag. These chips are fan-freakin-tastic alone, but now you are going to serve them with Shrapnel. What is that? Easier to say what it isn't. Not quite a salsa, not quite a bean dip, not quite a salad ... anyway, it's delicious.

Chop two or three avocados, two large tomatoes, and a tablespoon's worth of red onion. The red onion should be chopped fine, and the others should be about in centimeter cubes. Throw into a big ugly bowl. Open, drain, and add one can each of corn, black beans, and black-eyed peas. Or get some dried black-eyed peas and soak them overnight, for that wonderful fresh crunch. Add black pepper to taste and a small bottle of Italian dressing, and toss. Transfer to a big pretty bowl, and, if you can at all, generously snip cilantro or parsley on top.

You need hip, young, old-school stuff to drink. I love home-made ginger ale, but the presentation is ugly—re-used plastic bottles and floating bits of plant matter. Vernor's ginger soda tastes close enough and is presentable, and it sells in glass bottles. If your experience with ginger drinks is along the lines of Canada Dry, you are in for a surprise.

Schweppes makes a raspberry ginger ale that looks awesome and tastes good, though not as gingery and honestly, not very raspberry-y. And I think you can only get it in two-liters, so invest in a hip, young dispenser top like they put on seltzer bottles.

If you can get raspberry syrup (as for Italian sodas) and/or fresh or frozen raspberries, lime juice and wedges, ice, and club soda (or, again, ginger soda), make razz-limes. In fact, set out a razz-lime bar and let your guests make their own.

Last, but not least, Izze makes a line of fruit-juice-and-carbonated-water sodas that are to die for, and Thomas Kemper makes some very good specialty sodas as well, both in glass bottles for style.
posted by eritain at 3:30 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Beverage addendum: Or go to your local Asian store and acquire a bunch of Pocari Sweat, Calpis, and anything else with a startling name. Because nothing is more hip than being startling and cross-cultural.
posted by eritain at 3:34 AM on June 1, 2007

Two of my favorites are: 1. Smoked Salmon with Avocado and Wasabi Cream Cheese Finger Sandwiches; and, 2. Tortilla chips with a small spoonful of the verde sauce listed below and a chunk of Alaskan king crab.

Verde Sauce:
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed
1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
posted by LittleLisi at 12:45 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, it's all about the bowl of punch (the raspberry ginger ale mentioned would be perfect) with floating dollops of rainbow sherbet.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:34 PM on June 1, 2007

I just remembered another dish that will impress the socks off of your friends.
Pastrami-cured gravlax

I normally can't stand gravlax or smoked salmon, but this is incredibly delicious and mine has never had any unpleasant fishy taste. I just use the el cheapo planks of salmon from Costco and they turn out great. To serve, slice the salmon as thinly as you can, process some cream cheese with a few chopped shallots and parsley, and put out with crackers. The only downside is that you have to give up a casserole dish sized space in your fridge for the better part of a week.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:14 PM on June 1, 2007

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