great beginnings

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Sources, Fête Fact, Posted on December 21, 2015 by Sandy Bergsten

Just had my holiday hors d’oeuvres class at Dorothy Lane Market Culinary Center. It was such fun teaching the full house how they too could impress their guests with little stress. I shared a few tricks of the trade that ensure that absolutely everyone can entertain with ease. Here they are!

Every guest loves being greeted with a plate of bite-sized canapés. While it seems festive and fancy it is also a great way to cut costs. Consider the price difference between a holiday spread on a dining room table verses several plates of small hors d'oeuvres. Passing your fare is also a wonderful way to guarantee that you are out and about mingling with your company.

Break down your buffet and create passable canapés. Everyone adores beef tenderloin this time of year but it is a pricey cut. Instead of putting out an entire tenderloin, assemble croutes with a single slice of filet and a thick dollop of horseradish cream. Round out this offering with another croute topped with whipped feta and roasted grape tomatoes. (If you are wondering what a croute is it is just a fancy word for thinly sliced toasted French bread rounds.)

Almost anything seems distinctive when placed in a light-as-a-feather pastry cup. Siljans makes an extraordinary product, far superior to phyllo cups.

Here I simply filled Siljans cups with a little white-meat chicken salad topped with diced red grapes and toasted almonds. Then I filled others with an interior scoop of room temperature triple cream Brie cheese and a drizzle of fig preserves.

It’s always a great idea to have a few ready-to-heat-and-serve hors d'oeuvres in your freezer. Two crowd pleasers are hot sausage appetizers and mushroom cheese crisps.

Remember to always cover your baking sheets with heavy-duty foil.

That way once you plate up your canapés you can just toss the foil in the trash and stack your clean baking sheets.

Who doesn’t like a yummy sandwich? Here I’ve taken a couple of my favorites, bresaola with cheddar and smoked turkey with curry, and cut them into bite-sized portions.

Bresaola is a fabulous air-dried beef sold in the charcuterie department of high-end grocery stores or at Italian purveyors. Paper-thin slices top a croute slathered with graining whole mustard, shaves of sharp cheddar and thin slices of cornichon.

The smoked turkey sits between two slices of nutty raisin bread generously spread with scallion cream cheese, tangy mango chutney and crisp arugula leaves.

For a smaller group, go all out with a few starters that truly sparkle. Consider these two from the sea- ahi poke spoons and blini with smoked salmon and salmon caviar.

Store bought blinis make this extraordinary canapé exceptionally easy to create. Just top the prepared blini with small dollop of crème fraiche, a thin ribbon of smoke salmon and a small spoonful of salmon caviar. Make sure to purchase the good caviar in the fresh seafood section of your market.

These clever “spoons” are actually made out of wonton wrapper halves that are formed and baked in mini muffin tins.

They are then filled with finely chopped purchased ahi tuna poke.

With a few of the above your holiday will shine as bright as your smile, for you will be focusing on what truly matters- getting out of the kitchen and spending special moments with those you love.

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