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Need a simple appetizer recipe

Hi all! My mother and I are throwing a huge party/dance/reception for my Grandmother's 80th birthday, complete with a live Big Band and "String of Pearls" theme. We need to make 300+ appetizers/finger foods for the guests in lieu of a full meal. I'm not sure we'll have a way to heat them, so cold recipes would be best. Keep in mind the huge number. It has to be something simple or we'll go nuts!! I've thought about making pinwheels with the gourmet tortillas and smoked salmon to "fancy 'em up." Any other great appetizer ideas out there??

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  1. I was going to suggest pinwheels but you have that covered...how about deviled eggs? Lots of ways to tweak them into a pretty and tasty finger food. There's also the goat cheese and date appetizer that so many people rave about.

    1. There is also the goat cheese and date appetizer that so many people rave about.

      1. Seafood salad on a cracker. You buy the salad pre-made and just put a bit on a cracker. Top w/parsley if feeling fancy.

        Baguette sliced & lightly toasted w/brie, honey & toasted almonds

        Cucumber slices w/salmon mousse piped on to look pretty

        1. Do you mean apps for 300+ people, or 300+ pieces for a smaller number of people? And are you looking for passed items or stationary items or both?

          1. I need 300+ pieces for a smaller number of people, and they will be liad out buffet-style.

            I had thought of deviled eggs too. Any great ideas for how to make them different from the traditional picnic fare??

            1. infuse a good bottle of vodka with two chopped habaneros, seeds included, let sit for at least two days, a week is better.
              Find the sweetest cherry tonatoes available and stab them with a
              put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with the vodka and let sit for at least 8 hours.


              1. How about vietnamese spring rolls, the unfried kind (aka summer rolls) with a dipping sauce?

                1. Deviled eggs can be jazzed up in many ways...chopped capers, olives, or pickle relish to be added to the stuffing are examples, there are recipes out there for curried deviled eggs...then sprinkled with snipped chives, parsley, you name it. Someone told me they were at a party that offered deviled eggs garnished with black caviar for over-the-top.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Val

                    I was at a party which served small new potatoes, baked and scooped out slightly, with a topping of some kind of cheese/cream mix. I think something like this with a little dollop of caviar would be very festive.

                    1. re: Val

                      I like to do my deviled eggs in a tapas vein, with homemade aioli rather than mayo, and some really good high quality tuna mixed in. I've made them at my last several cocktail parties, and everyone went mad for them.

                    2. I like roasted pecan halves sandwiched with a bit of really creamy blue cheese like Maytag. Also good with a single pecan half, a round of pear and the cheese but if you want to prepare ahead and not worry about the fruit browning, go with 2 pecan halves.

                      This would also be a good time of year to make a checca with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and a shot of fruity olive oil. Shallot or green onion is a nice addition if you like. Perhaps for a special occasion you'd want to look for really tasty heirloom varieties. You could have several bowls of it at the ready for refreshing the buffet table. Serve it with simple rounds of toasted baguette. Or rub them with raw garlic before toasting if you like. The toast rounds can be done a couple days ahead if you store them airtight. The checca, likewise, can be done a day ahead and benefits from a rest for the flavors to develop but add a handful or two of freshly chopped tomatoes to each bowl at serving time. Let guests spoon the checca on the toasts themselves so the bread stays crunchy.

                      1. Antipasto skewers--thread your favorite antipasto items (mozzarella balls/boccancini, cherry tomatoes, salami, etc.) on wooden skewers.
                        Melon or blanched asparagus wrapped in proscuitto.
                        Shrimp cocktail

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Marge

                          I recently was invited to a dinner and for appetizers the hostess served those miniature slices of bread (I've seen them at all supermarkets...they come in these tiny loaves). I believe Pepperidge Farm makes them. Anyway, they were lightly toasted on both sides. She topped them off with chicken salad and some also had fresh crabmeat salad. What's great is that the salads can be made ahead of time. The toasting can be done quickly as well because the bread is so tiny, you can toast many of them in the oven at the same time. This was so simple, but quite tasty.

                          Another easy appetizer is just serving some sliced tomatoes topped with sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled with either extra virgen olive oil or a good quality balsamic vinegar. These are also very simple, but quite good. Some nice crackers can also be placed nearby for those that like some crunch.

                        2. Asparagus (one of my favorite finger foods), gently poached to the point of being "crisp-tender," with a dipping sauce like lemon & garlic mayonnaise. Prunes stuffed with foie gras mousse (use a pastry bag & tip). Really basic and very 50's: Ritz cracker, topped with a piece of marinated herring out of a jar (not creamed herring), topped with a small slice of sweet pickle. Celery stuffed with blue cheese.

                          1. For lots and lots of appetizers I like to do bread canap├ęs because it quick and easy to do big slices than finicky little things. Get the local bakery to slice a white loaf (Pullman Loaf) horizontally. Remove the crusts and then top each slice evenly with something like smoked salmon or egg salad or tapenade or prosciutto, all across the top and into the corners.

                            Cut them out into triangles, squares or use a cookie cutter for circles (more wastage). Then garnish each with something interesting like a dollop of caviar, olive, caper, preserved lemon slice.

                            It's fast and you can make as little or as much variety as you like.

                            Looks something like this.

                            1. Wow - great idea, but what a big task! I'll bet you want to avoid appetizers that require individual preparation.

                              Smoked salmon-cream cheese-tortilla rollups would be my first choice, too. I'll bet spinach tortillas would look really pretty.

                              If you can borrow some crockpots to keep meat appetizers warm, you could serve something like chicken wings (not fancy, but tasty), short ribs (ditto), or cocktail meatballs. Some ideas:

                              http://abeamreach.org/recipes/scott/R... (these are great!


                              http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/or... (recipe untried so far


                              For something fancy, perhaps mini gougeres - small, cheesy cream puffs without a filling. These are best served warm, but they're fine at room temp. Plus, they're very easy to make ahead, and they freeze beautifully, then reheat in 5 minutes. My favorite recipe is a blue-cheese variant (see link). Check on Epicurious.com for the more traditional version with gruyere cheese.


                              Mini quiches, especially if you could omit the crust to make them quicker to prepare. I just found a recipe at Food & Wine for "Souffle Squares", which look faster than mini quiches:

                              http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ar... (recipe untried so far


                              Candied or spiced nuts. Me, I love sweet-and-spicy cashews, and have served this version to great acclaim (scroll past the salad recipe):


                              Soft cheese (like herbed boursin or chevre) or a vegetable spread piped onto a slice of baguette or cracker. OK, this requires assembly, but it would be relatively quick with the help of piping bag made out of a ziploc bag with a corner snipped.

                              Good luck, and have a great time!


                              1. Another good and simple app using slices of baguette is:

                                top each baguette slice with-- 1 sun dried tomato that's been marinated in olive oil and spices
                                1 leaf fresh basil
                                1 slice fresh mozzarella

                                It looks really pretty as well.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gorboduc

                                  A variation of this: Throw 1 pint of sun dried tomatoes into a cuisinart with one whole lemon (you'd need to multiply the amt., obviously) and puree, then spread on baguette slices. It's simple and delicious.

                                2. Speaking as a caterer, appetizers are a hugh undertaking... no matter how simple.

                                  I'm not sure if you priced out having a caterer to the work but if you take into account planning, shopping, prep and service - it's more economical to let someone else do the work and you just enjoy the party!

                                  Just a suggestion...

                                  1. I did a big birthday bash for my Mom last fall when she turned 90. I kept it really simple since most of her friends are all over 70 and they aren't into fancy foods at all. I did blt pinwheels-, a huge cheese tray with fruits, nuts,honey,and sweet breads,- a cheese ball,- mini croisants with homemade fillings of tuna salad, chicken salad,egg salad, ham and cheese,-lots of salads(inc. oriental salad)-an antipasto tray,- mini quiches,-,rye cuc. apps.,-cookies- brownies and of course a huge, huge cake. It went over really well with her group. I would love to have done many more gourmet type apps, but I knew her group wouldn't appreciate that. We had over 100 people and almost all the food went.
                                    Yes, it was a lot of work, but I did purchase some of the food from upscale grocery stores and ordered all the bread and desert products from our fav. bakery. Get as much help as you can, be really organized and if you can, hire some help to serve and keep platters filled -up and fresh, so you will be able to enjoy the party too. Have a great party!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jackie de

                                      The last two posts are spot on. It's a ton of work and the more help you can get, the better: a caterer if you can afford it and if not, at least a couple of helpers (three better) to keep platters filled, pick up empties and clean up. If money is really tight, these can be teenagers at $10 an hour.

                                      The other thing I'd say, as a veteran for my parents' 50th anniversary, is to confirm and double-confirm every single thing you order, reserve or book with third parties. When double-confirming I picked up all kinds of problems and the only thing I didn't double-confirm wasn't ready when promised.

                                      Lots of good food suggestions. I'd add cheese sticks or cheese coins (can be made ahead), a large spiral-sliced ham and a roasted turkey breast with small rolls and mustards for self-assembled sandwiches (good filling finger food with minimal prep time for you).

                                    2. My favorite is pitted dates, stuffed with an almond, and wrapped in bacon. You can make a ton of these and freeze them, then whenever necesary they can be microwaved, baked, or broiled.

                                      My mother used to wrap pieces of chicken liver in bacon,then broil and serve this (but I don't like chicken liver).

                                      Another idea is spiced nuts, I don't have a recipe handy though.

                                      1. If you want to try to caterer route, go to amusebouchesf.com I know they do passed hors deuvres (sp?) at a resonable price-my friend was on a very tight budget for her wedding and she used them-the food was excellent...