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Ideas for Best Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers Please!

 
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 69
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:26 am    Post subject: Ideas for Best Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers Please! Reply with quote

Hi all,

I'm planning a cocktail party for about 20 in a few weeks.

Would love some ideas for appetizers that are delicious, glamorous, and preferably at least a few that can be made ahead so I'm not stuck in the kitchen all night. Not super concerned with them being healthy!

Thanks in advance! Very Happy
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I absolutely love your question, as I have a lot of hors d'oeuvres parties, but my house cannot fit 20. I am having fun thinking of your party.

For larger parties I make a cheese nut paté that is quite festive and has to be made in advance, as it is too liquid if not chilled overnight. I also make cheese puffs based on a cream puff base. These are also doable in advance. They are slightly more fun warm, but cool down rapidly when you put the plate out, so why not make them in advance? Tortillas Españolas (eggs, potatoes and onions) are often served room temperature or even chilled, cut into small squares instead of wedges. A Mexican friend of mine serves thin slices of jicama with lime and cayenne. I was thinking this would look festive for the holidays if the slices were cut into triangular wedges or long strips, and the plate were sprinkled with pomegranate slices. People always eat a LOT if I make muhammara using Clotilde's recipe which you can find in the archives for this blog.

I would love to hear other people's ideas as I also have a party coming up, although not for 20.

Dory
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm confused by the question. Virtually all appys can be at least prepped ahead of time. Many can be complete.

For a party like that I would confine everything to finger-foods. It's a lot easier for both you and the guests, unless you have a great many serving dishes of the appropriate sizes. If you do, it becomes a tapas party. Wink

The problem with this sort of party is that you want a nice mixture of room-temp, cold, and hot choices. Cold- and room-temperature choices should be no problem. You have to plan things so that hot ones can be completed, then merely reheated in a warm oven.

F'rinstance, I make hand-pies fairly often, using a cornmeal crust. They are completely cooked. For service I put them in a 250-300 degree oven to warm through.

One approach that's always appealed to my guests is to make gougeres in various shapes (use a piping tube). Squares, rings, triangles, crescents, etc. Each of the puffs is filled with a different stuffing. Maybe smoked salmon and cream cheese in the triangles; crab salad in the circles; pate & red onion mamalade in the crescents, etc.

I even have a version that uses rye flour to make Reuben party puffs.

You can make the puffs ahead of time, prep the fillings, and assemble just before the party.

Dory's suggestion for tortillas is a perfect choice. Along those likes, too, consider quiches in mini-puff-pastry shells.

Or try this: Either steam or microwave tortillas (the Mexican type, I mean) just until flexible. Mold them in muffin tins. Bake just until crisp. Then fill with whatever trips your fancy---hot or cold. For smaller bites, use won ton wrappers and mini-muffin tins the same way.

A similar approach: Cut your favorite bread (I like oatmeal for these, but anything works) into 1-inch cubes. Brush with melted butter and bake until browned and crisp. Then fill with your favorite hot or cold.

Another thing: Consider using veggies as vessels for other tastes. For instance, cut cucumbers into 2-inch sections. Hollow them out, leaving at least a quarter inch botton. The use them as "glasses" for gaspacho shooters. Here, again, you can prep everything ahead of time, then assemble at the last minute.

Don't confine this approach to liquids. Use the edible cucumber cup as a two-bite seving of Shrimp in an appropreate dressing. Mayonnaise Charles, perhaps, with the cucumber cores (less the seeeds) chopped fine and mixed witht he mayo.

Other veggies make great cups, tool. Try filling hollowed-out cherry tomatoes, for instance, or making boats out of baby zucchini, etc.

Crostini works at any such party. But be a little creative. Instead of toasted bread, as the base, try things like slices of jicama or turnip as the base.

Have fun!
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
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Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I totally understand about making things ahead. I can't stand on the day of the party futzing around sticking things on toothpicks! I like to have things easily assembled prior to a party. I DO like the cucumber cups also. My favorite filling is creme fraiche, a bit of smoked salmon and some capers or dill. Also, goat cheese and herbs taste swell in cucumber. If your cucumber is cut the day before, it doesn't take long to add the toppings. Also, endive leaves with bleu cheese/creme fraiche mixture piped in. I love shrimp cocktail and I roast my shrimp instead of boiling them, for more flavor. I think roasted shrimp taste better at room temp - then just make a simple cocktail sauce or have a salsa next to them for dipping. Sauce can be made ahead and cooking the shrimp takes 10 minutes tops! Rilletes of pork, salmon, duck, goose - whatever - are easily made ahead and always gobbled up. I almost always make some sort of pate or mousse (i.e. chicken livers). Bite sized quiches can be made ahead and frozen and then heated up a little before your guests arrive. In Clotilde's C&Z cookbook is a wonderful recipe for Tomato, pistachio and chorizo loaf that can be made ahead. Good luck![/b]
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
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Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't mind futzing around the day of the party. What I don't want to face is it being an hour before guests are due to arrive, and there's a dozen things to prep, and, OMG, I haven't had my shower yet.

Pre-prepping and early assembly avoids all that.

All the fillings you mention for the cucumber cups would also work with cherry tomatoes. For those, however, I'd definately choose a pastry bag over a spoon. Lay out the tomato halves and boom boom boom they're filled.

You're absolutely right about shrimp. Roasting (or, alternatively, pan frying) results in more flavorfull shrimp. If you have to boil them, do it with the shells on, in a strongly flavored liquid. However they're cooked, be wary not to overcook shrimp. Most people do.

The drawback to putting out a pile of shrimp with cocktail sauce on the side is that so long as there are shrimp out like that nothing else will get touched. Serving shrimp as a component of another appy, especially if you put out mixed trays, helps modify that seafood addiction we all seem to have.

People forget, too, how many seafood dishes there are designed to be eaten cold. Cervice, for instance, and escerviche, and salads based on both shellfish and finned fishes abound, and can be adapted to appy portions.

With hot appys, the ideal is to choose those that don't suffer from being eaten at room temperature. Unfortunately this is not always possible, so warming trays are necessary. They can be rented if you don't have any. But something often forgotten is that electric skillets, crock pots, and similar appliences, set on low, serve the same function.
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loving all these ideas...thank you!

So far on the menu:

Meat, Cheese, Bread, Olive Board
Stuffed Mushrooms
Gougere (love the idea of assorted fillings)
Spinach Feta Phyllo Triangles
Crostini with Bruschetta
Crab Cakes

Although...if I keep reading these posts my menu may grow and change many more times!!

Thanks all,
Erina
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crostini with Bruschetta

Question You need to explain this one, please.

my menu may grow and change many more times!!

Change? Perhaps so. Grow? I hope not. It’s kind of long as it is. In fact, I would cut the mushrooms. They’re time consuming to make, sloppy to eat as finger food, and are texturally too similar to the crab cakes.

For a party like this, with appys only and no meal to follow, figure on 5-7 pieces per person. It’s always best to figure on the high side and round up. So you’re looking at a minimum of 150 pieces. It’s always easier to make more of one item, then fewer each of several.

The exception: I would scatter few dips around the room, with chips and crudities as appropriate.

I’m sure you know these things, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to review.
The most time consuming (and expensive) dish on your menu is the crabcakes. You’ll get 8-10 appy-sized cakes from a pound of crab. So figure on three pounds of lump crabmeat for those. You can shape them the day before, and store in the fridge on sheet trays.. Once cooked you can refrigerate them again. But take them out at least an hour before reheating time, so they come back to room temp first.

Stuffed phyllo triangles can be made ahead and baked the day of. I would put them in to bake so that when they’re done you can just lower the heat to keep other things warm, such as the crab cakes.

The gougeres and fillings can be made a day---or even two days---ahead, then assembled at the last minutes (well, more like the last hour, Shocked ).

On your antipasti platter be sure and roll some of the meats into cyclinders or cones, or just fold them into triangles. This makes it easier for guests who want to nibble on them without bread.

Make sure you create a written gameplan and timeline. Otherwise you’ll be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You have a lot to do as it is, getting ready. No sense making it even more difficult.

Of course, the easy way to make this a success is to fly me out there to do all the heavy lifting. Wink

Brook
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
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Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Of course, the easy way to make this a success is to fly me out there to do all the heavy lifting. Wink"

Now you're talking Brook....I love it!

Thanks for all the tips and thoughts...very helpful and appreciated.

I'm going to start cooking today and make the spinach/feta triangles since those freeze beautifully.

I'll report back on how it goes!
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
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Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:46 pm    Post subject: Thank you! Reply with quote

Thank you all for the tips, thoughts, suggestions, and words of wisdom.

Party was a HUGE success!

Will do a blog post hopefully this week and include pix and recipes so you can see what we ended up with...but thank you, thank you, thank you!

Final menu:

Crostini topped with goat cheese and plum chutney
Crostini topped with mozzarella, basil, and tomato
Cucumber Cups Filled with Crabmeat
Spinach Feta Triangles
Artichoke Dip Baked in a Breadbowl
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Meet and Cheese Antipasti

I think that's it!
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
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Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I missed it, Erina. Sounds like a good party.

With the cucumber cups, did you make sort of a crab salad? Or just pile the lump meat into the cukes?
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I made a crab salad, but honestly I think just the lump crab meat might have been better!
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
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Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see it both ways, Erina. Sounds tasty either way.

All sorts of possibilities. I'm thinking, for instance, that lump crabmeat napped lightly with Mayonaisse Charles, or topped with just a hint of cocktail sauce would be nice, and perhaps save a little time making the salad.

The Mayonaisse Charles would be a little monochromatic, though. So maybe a caper berry topping to provide a nice visual break?
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Pictures from the Party Reply with quote

(Caveat: Never posted photos before...so I hope I'm doing this right!)

Better late than never...a few photos of the party and some of the lovely appetizers you all helped me come up with! Thanks again!










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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great shots! Great looking spread! Anxious looking pup!
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Shut Up And Cook



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's Duke, who was just a puppy at the party (still is).

It was taking all of his good behavior to sit near the table and not give it a sniff or two.

Sorry the pix are so large...I'll size them properly next time now that I know.
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