How to throw/survive a holiday party (appetizer edition)

I'm going to let everyone in on a little tip: The key to throwing a great party is to have great appetizers/finger foods/one or two bite offerings. whatever you want to call them, they are essential to kicking your shindig off right. it doesn't matter if you had the most awesome main dishes (if serving). what people will remember the most are the smallbites that you probably didn't want to make in the first place. i don't know many people that love to make appetizers. They're tiny, fussy, and require a lot of attention and work (the puppies/babies, of the food world, if you will). But just like all things tiny, people go nuts for appetizers. The trick here, is to make things that are interesting/colorful/tasty/cute/awesome, but to avoid a lot of heartache and stress. So, with all that said, here are some tasty treats to get any party headed in the right direction:
hardware you will need:
baking sheet(s)/saute pan/food processor/various platters/patience/mad skills
Salad bites: super easy. you will need some endive (usually available in most groceries) and then it's basically whatever you want to put in the leaves. The leaves on this belgian lettuce are great because they act as a little spoon or bowl. Basically, just make a salad that you really like, only put it on one piece of lettuce. I filled mine with some diced grapefruit, smoked salmon and avocado. dressed with a little reduced balsamic/pomegranate juice. this is a really easy one to put together but, like all of these little buggers, just takes a steady hand and some assemblage time. other filling ideas : blue cheese/walnut, bacon/tomato/ curried chicken, etc. you get the idea.
creamed mushrooms on brioche toasts: got this idea from here. a really easy one to make as you can do the filling ahead of time. I did substitute brandy for the vermouth in the recipe, but followed it otherwise. this one is sure to be a hit among the fungus lovers.
Things wrapped in salty meat: I know what you are thinking..."How could this ever be bad!?" well the answer to that question really can't. I'm a sucker for salty cured meat treats. bacon, prosciutto, jambon, etc., etc. the obvious trick here is to make sure you are wrapping these tasties in something CURED. pancetta and bacon should be avoided because they are most likely raw and wouldn't be nice to serve the people that you love. however, if you are indeed hosting a party for your enemies, by all means, go ahead with the pancetta...and maybe wrap it around some orange roughy that you left out in the sun...Anyway...where was i? oh yeah, things wrapped in meat. My "things" of choice here were prunes. and goat cheese. I don't want to hear any whining about prunes either. They're delicious. So are dates. So enough with the bad rap already. If it makes you feel better, you can call them dried plums...
You put your hand upon my hip... Yeah, sorry, but cmon, couldn't resist. Every party needs some dippage. I like to make hummus, particularly, roasted red pepper hummus. here's my do:
1 can chickpeas (or equal weight of cooked dried), 14 oz.
1 generous teaspoon tahini
1 garlic clove
couple squeezes lemon juice
salt and pepper (white pepper if you are super picky about little black flecks, i'm not)
1 roasted red pepper (or if you bought a can of rrp's because you just didn't have the time or motivation to do it yourself...ahem...about 4-5 pieces.)
olive oil drizzles, my nizzles (fashizzle!)
throw everything in food processor. blend until super smooth, scraping down sides once ( you actually should stop the machine here, unless you are a fan of spatula death). now, slowly drizzle your olive oil in until the mixture starts to emulsify. Now, there are a lot of different schools of thought on proper hummus making. i tend to like mine very inundated with olive oil, it should look kind of like neon cream of wheat. There are folks who like it really thick, but i think that it kind of sucks that way. just my opinion:) top with some diced rrp and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita chips. I like these..a lot, but you could make your own (but this is supposed to be easy, remember, and honestly, i like the thinness of these compared to homemade pita chips.)
Mini loaded baked potatoes! these were a pretty big hit. they are really easy to make, just require a steady hand and some creativity. I loaded mine with prosciutto crispies, avocado, and diced red chili. But you can do whatever you want. the trick is to get super tiny potatoes. the variety that I used was a banana fingerling. I suppose you could use just regular potatoes, but these have some extra panache and you can't argue with extra panache, well, maybe sometimes...
mini potatoes (preferably banana fingerling, for their excellent, one-bite shape/cuteness)
toppings of your choice
roast mini tates at 400F for about 30 minutes (your cooking time might vary, remember, I'm still using the stupid flair. Click here for more on that)
You could use any toppings you like. To fancy them way up, add some creme fresh, caviar and dill. options are wide open here. Get creative.
So, yeah. Hope that you all give these a try. They are all pretty easy and a great way to put a decent spread out with not too much time/worry. pieces.
hummus can be made ahead. (actually, I am demanding that you do so. To save your sanity, and to let the flavors party a little, best made the day before)
Mini salad bites need to be made close to party time
potatoes also close to party time (about 30-45 minutes before, you want them to be warm/room temp)
mushroom mixture can be a day ahead, just reheat and assemble on toasts before you do the potatoes.
things wrapped in meat should be made day of, you can do this first, it's easy.


Melissa said...

I love Deb over at Smitten Kitchen, her pics are amazing and the recipes inspired. One app. I love is dates stuffed with a good blue cheese rapped in bacon. Maybe Cliché but I don't care, it's so good. Most people are like "what are these they are so rich and delicious". They taste like the took hours to make but only take a few minutes. Happy Holidays Steve.

the DISH said...

I'm all about "taste like they took hours to make":) yeah, ok, I have to make those now...happy holidays to you and z also!

Chris said...

You've got lucky guests. I second Melissa's comment about the dates. Our family had some with mascarpone instead of blue which sounds really good too.

Happy New Year Dishes!