Preparing Pantry for Parties
May 19, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for ideas for simple, make-ahead pantry-stocking recipes for things I can use as appetizers or nibbles -- spiced nuts, marinated olives, etc. I'd ideally like things I don't need to refrigerate (although I do know how to can things), but I'm also thinking of some made-ahead-and-frozen cheese cracker dough as well; I'd also like things that keep a while. I'd love to be able to just pull some crackers and bread out, grab a couple jars, and there it all is.

I've already got recipes for tapenade, marinated olives and mushrooms, reconstituted sundried tomatoes, and spiced nuts, as well as cheese spreads; anyone have any other tips?

Single-ingredient recommendations are welcome too (i.e., "never be without a jar of artichoke hearts"), although I'm mainly looking for things I can make myself and sock away.

posted by EmpressCallipygos to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Home-made chocolate covered pretzel rods. You can keep them on hand.

I also keep almonds and cranberries on hand. They're a great snack and easy. Just mix.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 9:44 AM on May 19, 2008

Hard cheeses, which can be kept well-wrapped in paper for months.
Sopprasetta, cured chorizo, or other cured sausage.
Artichoke hearts.

And in a completely different category: popcorn.
posted by desuetude at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2008

Pickled items, jams, chutneys, chocolates.
posted by xammerboy at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2008

various jams/jellies
basil or other herb pestos
cans of chickpeas and tahini for easy homemade hummus
smoked salmon or other fish
tins of sardines
nice chocolate
candied ginger
posted by robinpME at 9:58 AM on May 19, 2008

crostini topped with goat cheese and fig jam
posted by elis at 10:04 AM on May 19, 2008

As a slightly more elegant alternative to crackers from a box, you can make your own crostini--slice a ficelle (narrow baguette) into thin slices and stick into the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes until they're fully crispy--and keep them around in a Ziploc bag for a few weeks.
posted by staggernation at 11:52 AM on May 19, 2008

Tinned dolmades (stuffed vineleaves) are handy for emergency entertaining - and damn tasty!
posted by hot soup girl at 12:25 PM on May 19, 2008

I've just spent the afternoon making meringues, which freeze very well and keep for ages. Just plain egg whites themselves also freeze so you can save them up anytime you separate an egg until you've got a enough to warrant making a batch.

Combine with robinpME's nice chocolate and candied ginger for added yumminess.
posted by dogsbody at 1:32 PM on May 19, 2008

Bollitas freeze really well and are always popular (in fact they benefit from a trip through the freezer even if you're baking them the same day).
posted by HotToddy at 2:07 PM on May 19, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to all so far; I'm still collecting ideas, but wanted to give a couple shout-outs:

I also keep almonds and cranberries on hand.

Cranberries should be easy, my family's a supplier for Ocean Spray. (Really!) Nuts are definitely on the agenda, but I'd initially thought to make spiced nuts; you've reminded me to have some plain nutmeats as well. Thanks!

Desuetude: How long do the hard-cured sausages generally keep? I'd love to avoid things that need refrigeration (I know I'd have to refrigerate them after opening, of course).

As for popcorn: I've also started looking into caramel corn, peanut brittle and various chocolate barks, and I wonder how a chocolate popcorn bark would be...hmmm.

A few of you mentioned pickles -- which is perfect, as the local farmer's market should be getting Kirby cucumbers soon and I can make a batch of dill spears and can some.

HotToddy: good tip! I'd already planned on some jars of olives in general, either plain or to be turned into fried olives (most recipes I've seen call for some kind of meat stuffing, but I tried once with almond-stuffed olives straight from the jar and prefer those).

Oh, and dates -- bacon-wrapped dates is another good one.

this is perfect, everyone -- thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2008

I dunno about the supermarket summer sausage type stuff -- if that's what you mean by your reference to 'after opening' -- but I think those have pretty unlimited shelf life. I have a fabulous cheesemonger from whom I buy great charcuterie. I keep my soppa and chorizo in the 'fridge wrapped well in paper for months (the cut end dries out a little, that's all), but I don't think it really needs to be refrigerated at all.
posted by desuetude at 12:25 PM on May 21, 2008

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