It is party season! I, for one, love this time of year. Not only are towns and people decked out for the holidays, but so is the food.
So often as friends gather for a holiday party, finger food, snacks, appetizers, hors d’ oeuvres are taken. Cooking great appetizers is half the task, but making the food look gorgeous is the other half.
Presentation will lead the buffet goer to your hors d’oeuvre. And, if you are like me, you want folks to clean your platter…less to take home and less to consume later in the week.
Here are some ideas for you to gild the proverbial lily:
1. Make it easy on the guests. Anything slippery, difficult to eat, or needing prep, should be re-thought. Stuffed mushroom caps can be difficult to capture with a spoon and spearing with a fork will likely end in a de-stuffed mushroom. Use a deviled egg dish for serving along with tongs or two spoons and the capture will be easy. Olives could be offered along with toothpicks. And, mini sandwiches or sliders can pre-made. Think not only of how a guest will get the food item on their plate, but also how they can get it into their mouth.
2. Skewers help to make serving and eating efficient. Using skewers also makes an appetizer look so much more elegant. I was at a party recently where marinated shrimp were served on small skewers. It was so easy to eat! These were served as individuals, but you could also put two or three on a skewer. This helps the buffet line move faster. Kabobs are a great help as well. I even saw tortellini served on skewers! They were so cute with two per stick, beginning and ending with sundried tomatoes, and served along side a pesto for drizzling over the top. So creative!
3. If you worry about chipping or breaking your serving platters or dishes, why not take your food item in plastic dishes and make the transfer once you get there? That also aids in taking home any leftovers. Use kitchen towels and a flat box or crate to secure the breakables during transport. If you have certain dishes that you usually take to pot lucks, why not make a quilted carriers to keep them safe? Remember, a beautiful dish full of gorgeous food seems much more decadent than the same food piled in a plastic resealable container. It is the holidays and a time for decadence!
4. Re-imagine any of your favorite foods into bite-size morsels. Make a great carrot cake? Reinvent it as small cupcakes. Revered for your pecan pie? Make pecan tassies instead. Want to serve a delicious pulled pork? Offer two-bite sliders. Just about anything can be remade into smaller sized servings. Wouldn’t tomato aspic be cute made in mini-muffin pans!
5. Charcuterie platters are hot right now. Why not make your own? A couple of different types of summer sausage can be served as slices or cubes. Add a hot mustard for dipping, and you are on your way. Wrap string cheese in prosciutto. Add olives, cheese cubes or slices, and maybe some grapes or tomatoes. These are great to have out, especially later in the evening when guests just want a bite.
6. Think of what would make a great show stopper and add height to your table display. Take those pecan tassies and layer them to make a Christmas tree shape. Use a cupcake tree to display soup shooters served in shot glasses, what else! Or a cascading plate stand to display different types of sandwiches. Use glass bricks or slabs of granite to raise platters. Or cover books or bricks with a table cloth to get the same effect.
Maybe these ideas will inspire you to get creative with serving options for your finger foods. What is your favorite way to display and serve appetizers?