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Nov 15, 2006 10:45 PM

Elegant hors d'oeuvres for cocktail party?

I'm on the hunt for some new recipes for our annual holiday cocktail party. It's pretty small (about 20-30 people tops) and I like to have a variety of food offerings.

Anyone have any recommendations for recipes, or ideas for store-purchased items that would fit the bill? I usually have a sushi platter, cheese board, spiced nuts, and several other items (including something meat-related, and dessert, of course).

Ideally, recipes for this occasions are:

- elegant/sophisticated, but not fussy
- most or all components can be made in advance
- bite-sized
- warm is OK, but not in a chafing dish (just passed on platters)
- extremely delicious

I need some new ideas! Thank you!!

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  1. Gougères! (Pronounced "goo-ZHAIR") They're French, so they're automatically fancy. And they look difficult to make, but they're not, once you master the technique (which isn't hard at all). And you can make them in advance, freeze them, and heat them for a few minutes before serving. And they're really, really good.

    Here's a thread with lots of info and recipes:

    My favorite recipe has blue cheese instead of the standard gruyere:

    And I just saw a recipe for Fontina and Proscuitto Gougeres that looks pretty dang tasty:

    Have fun,

    1. Filo pockets, or purses (whatever shape you like) filled with your favorite combos...

      I have done prosuitto w/mozzerella and drizzled balsamic glaze after baking...YUM! People can't get enough. They are so great because they are all do can freze them and just keep baking them off and passing them around.

      Another great filling is sauteed wild mushrooms w/ shallots and fresh herbs.

      It's nice to make the differnt flavors obvious by using different shapes so people know what they're in for.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Susanbnyc

        so i Love this idea and have decided to do it and bring it to my parent's house.... my fillings are going to be a goat cheese/fig combo with balsamic drizzle and then a feta/oregano/kalamata olive combo..... I just googled "phyllo triangle recipe" and got quite a few more interesting ideas and combinations to try...

      2. Crab "nachos" with avocado

        I always make these with shrimp instead; they are always a hit. basically crisp wonton "cups" with a spoonful of spicy avocado, with crab (or shrimp) on top.

        1. My favorite recipe is for a make-ahead shrimp dish that may be served cold or at room temp. You can used basil in place of the dill. That, with the red pepper flakes, makes it look even more festive.


          1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
          2 Tbl. olive oil
          1 to 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
          2 tsp. finely minced garlic
          4 tsp. finely minced shallots
          salt & pepper
          1 Tbl. lemon juice
          1 Tbl. finely chopped fresh dill

          Saute the garlic and shallots in the olive oil, adding the pepper flakes. Increase the heat slightly and add the shrimp, cooking for another 5-6 minutes, 'til they're opaque. Season to taste, then scrape it all into a bowl or ziploc bag. Toss with lemon juice and dill, then refrigerate for 3-4 hours (or overnight).

          3 Replies
          1. re: cackalackie

            How do you serve this? Individually, with toothpicks, or some other way?

            1. re: Maya

              I serve it with toothpicks. Just pour it all into a dish (plate) and then let them stick them with a pick.

              The shallots are finely minced, so they don't really fall off.

            2. re: cackalackie

              My version fries in butter, but I use chopped fresh green chili and parsley as the herb. Also very good.

              I have never served this as finger food but I guess you could cocktail stick if you used decent sized prawns - I would worry that the shallot etc would fall on the floor though.

              I guess you could mini tortilla wrap (like a fajita) or use a rice flour wrapper for the wrapping (when serving hot I serve with lemon scented basmati) and a rice version wouldn't add a flavour.

              I've become rather taken with roquefort shortbreads, a bit like a cheese straw pastry but made with loads of roquefort. I do the dough and roll it out between sheets of cling film the night before. Then cut disks, egg yolk them press a walnut half on top and bake the things.

              There's a silly seminar I go to a couple of times a year and the nibbles afterwards are normally pretty good, the one that goes fastest is a 'cube' of chicken breast wrapped in a sliver of prosciutto then cooked, served on a cocktail type stick.

            3. Brie and Fig cups: Purchased pastry cups, filled with a dollop of good brie, topped with a scant half-teaspoon of fig preserves and warmed at 350 for about 5 minutes - until the brie is melted. Always a hit at our parties.

              21 Replies
              1. re: Andiereid

                That sounds really good and easy. I think this might be our Thanksgiving appetizer. I'll bet you can use so many different things, besides the fig preserves, too, and it would be good. Like bite sized brie en croute. Thanks!

                1. re: chowser

                  You're most welcome. I swiped the idea from a good friend and use it a lot - I keep the little cups and the ingredients and it's extremely fast and easy and everyone just seems to love them.

                2. re: Andiereid

                  Wow, sounds terrific!

                  I guess you could also use apricot preserves (like the baked brie wheels) or fresh figs or even ?? What other items can top that? Meat, roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes? Other ideas?

                  I think I am also going to adopt this one.

                  Another take would be similar to my prosciutto crisps... Fill with fresh mozz or burrata (sp?) and top with prosciutto or sun dried tomatoes...

                  Thanks for the idea...

                  1. re: Michele4466

                    Another combo = a squeeze of pesto + a dollop of goat cheese.

                    1. re: cackalackie

                      Pesto...great idea!

                      You could make a whole assortment for people with varying tastes and meat/non meat eaters... cover the gamut!

                  2. re: Andiereid

                    I did this last year with cranberry chutney and stilton. Do you thaw the cups before doing this, or can you put the filling in the frozen cups and bake that way? I remember the stilton got too melted and very runny when I did it (of course, people still scarfed them down).

                    1. re: Maya

                      I probably should have called the cups something different - they're actually croustades - crispy shells. I get them in the cracker section of the grocery. They're very thin and crispy, all ready to go - no freezing or thawing necessary. I like them because it makes the whole bite kind of light - not too heavy or oily. Since they don't need to be thawed, really just a quick pop in the oven to melt the brie is all that's needed - usually 5 - 7 minutes.

                      1. re: Andiereid

                        What is the brand of these croustades? I was only ever able to find little phyllo cups, but these sound far easier. I'm in SF, in case you happen to know a specific place I could find them here!

                        Also, it sounds like you have to fill them right before warming, right? It doesn't sound like I could do that ahead of time.

                        1. re: Maya

                          The brand I use is Siljans, Maya, and I just get them at our local Harris-Teeter. I would think most decent grocery stores would have them.

                          I often fill them several hours before serving and just leave them on a baking sheet at room temperature. Then when the guests arrive, I pop them in the oven. You might make a couple of them and just try sticking them in the fridge or freezer and see how they reheat? I haven't tried making them days in advance or anything, but I would think that a warm up in the oven ought to crisp the shells up OK.

                          1. re: Andiereid

                            I like Siljans, but found if I fill them much in advance they get soggy. I filled them with softened cream cheese and put smoked salmon on top, so it wasn't a recipe you would put in the oven. I would limit making them in advance to something that goes in the oven.

                          1. re: chowser

                            Yeah that's what I used ,and was asking whether they should be pre-baked and then filled and returned to oven, or what.

                            1. re: Maya

                              I fill them still frozen and then bake. But, I haven't done plain cheese before, usually a mixture of things. Maybe it was baking the stilton and not the cups for you? I rarely use stilton or other blue cheeses so I don't know how they bake.

                          2. re: Andiereid

                            So, I have the brie & fig preserves, but have called everywhere looking for the Siljan croustades and can't find them anywhere!! Does anyone have any other ideas??

                        2. re: Andiereid

                          My favorite version is caramelized onions with cambozola or a combination of brie and a mild bleu. Sprinkle with chives or chervil.

                            1. re: Andiereid

                              Even bleu cheese haters manage to love this combo... something about the sweetness of the onions offsetting the bite of the cheese. Yummy!

                              I'm going to try your brie and fig combo with fresh figs and see how that turns out. I might try caramelizing the tops of the figs a bit with the broiler or a torch. Hooray for fire in the kitchen!

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                I make a version with brie, apricot preserves mixed with rosemary and a bit of red chili for a very slight kick, and a pecan half. they are delicious and people can't get enough of them.

                            2. re: TorontoJo

                              My favorite is a version of a Napa Valley offering, although they used a cracker.
                              Mini phyllo shells with Belgian Goat w/Honey cheese, topped with a smidgen of fig preserves! Can eat cold or heat at 350 degrees for the 5 minutes.

                            3. re: Andiereid

                              I use gorgonzola or bleu cheese in the pastry you said wonderful!! easy! and a bit different

                              1. re: Andiereid

                                I used the ideas from this thread for hors d'ouevres for the Thanksgiving sides pot-luck dinner I hosted yesterday. I bought frozen phyllo dough shells (Athens brand). I was a little skeptical about them, but they were totally fine and sooo easy.

                                I took them out of the freezer and let them thaw on the counter top for about 10-15 minutes, then put on a cookie sheet. Each shell got a little square of brie (with a bit of the rind) and then got topped with a tiny bit of either cranberry-apple butter or chili-cranberry chutney. In an oven at 350 for about 5 minutes and put right out. Really successful and gave us that right amount of something to nibble on while we had apple-cider cocktails! I was happy to have something that took no prep or thought but still tasty (and pretty).