Monday, December 28, 2009

A New Year's Hors d'oeuvre Buffet

Let's start planning those New Year's menus, shall we?. If you are planning on having a small group or a big crowd, the easiest, and in my humble opinion, the tastiest way to go is the ever popular hors d'oeuvre buffet. Set them out, walk away, and have time to party at your own party. You may need to refresh some stuff or tidy up the buffet table now and then, but if you are entertaining for New Year's, this is the way to go.

Don't get intimidated by all the intricate homemade hors d'oeuvre recipes out there. Almost anything you can make entree-sized will surely be cuter and fancier if you make them small.

In planning a do-able menu, the key is to have one or two things that can be completed ahead of time, then offer a few easy stationary hors d'oeuvres such as a cheese platter with crackers and sliced baguette. If you want to do a few novelties such as homemade mini crab cakes, canapes, or other homemade hors d'oeuvre that needs last minute attention, then leave yourself time and counter space to do them by getting everything else in the oven or on the table before you deal with them.

If you aren't sure what to serve, don't over-think it. Do an online search for ideas or think of things you have had at other functions. Dig through old recipes and also go to Trader Joe's--they have amazing and inexpensive frozen hors d'oeuvres. You can buy pastry cups, cracker-type cups and/or filo cups and fill them with anything: cheese, sauteed onions, refried beans, tabouli...

Here are some ideas to inspire you.

Dips and Such (easy to make or even easier to buy and garnish)

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip (served with rye bread triangles and Kettle Chips)
Hot Taco Dip (refried beans, cheese, salsa baked, then topped with lettuce and sliced olives and served with tortilla chips)
Hummus, Tabouli, and Pita Chips Platter (garnish with hot peppers and olives)
Tapenade (Roasted Pepper, Olive, Artichoke, or any served with endive)
Pesto (served with sliced baguette)
Baked Wonton Triangles with assorted Asian dipping sauces

Toothpick Hors d'ouvres:

grape tomato half and small chunk of fresh mozzarella
pitted olive and cucumber
sausage slice with a sauteed onion bit
aged cheddar and granny smith apple chunk
pickle slice and smoked gouda cube

Many, many foods are cute and tasty when served on a toothpick!

Finding some delicious frozen hors d'ouevres like spring rolls, brie en croute, baby quiches and tartletts, etc. are a great idea, but adding a homemade hors d'oeuvre or two will really make your hors d'oeuvre buffet memorable. They don't have to be hard, but usually just require some forethought. Here is where it becomes adorable to make regular food in small sizes. People love it and you will be very popular if you give it to them. Here are my current thoughts on the subject.

-mini cheeseburgers or homemade veggie burgers served on baby brioche rolls
-mini grilled cheese sandwiches
-appetizer kebabs (long skewers with just one bite of something at the end: chicken, shrimp, veg, serve with a dipping sauce)
-shrimp in a wonton (a shrimp uncurled on a toothpick, wrapped in a wonton and baked)
-fresh jalapeno poppers
-savory mini muffins (Cheddar Cornbread? Herb and Onion?)
-gourmet mini pizzas (buy the crust dough, make little ones and top them)

Arranging them on a pretty platter with a few purple kale leaves or some radicchio will make them look so elegant.

I always like an awesome cheese plate with one basic (cheddar or gouda?) and a few adventurous cheeses. Maybe a really stinky one like Humboldt Fog and a creamy goat like Bucheron. I also like serving a high quality Greek feta on it's own plate drizzled with olive oil and served with lemon wedges and black pepper.

I do love hors d'oeuvres. It's true. I could live on small bites of flavorful stuff. They're just so good! An hors d'oeuvre buffet is also a fantastic opportunity to try some new foods you wouldn't normally try. Have fun and fill martini glasses with shrimp or even make cucumber lollipops. Maybe put some flowers on the table and you will be set. Farewell to 2009!


Anonymous said...

You are I truely are from the same family - I just went into the wronnng business!! We should change lives sometime!

Catherine Barker Hoffman said...

and who is this?