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ISO Elegant Apps without dairy

Throwing a twelve-person appetizer party for New Year's Eve. Looking for some ideas for apps on the elegant side without dairy. So far, I have:

Mini Beef Wellingtons (filets cut bite-sized, mushroom duxelle, pate, in pastry)
Risotto 'bar' (risotto in martini glasses with varous toppings - making a non-dairy version)
Ahi and Avocado Ceviche on Sesame WonTon Crisps
Mushroom Leek Brandy Tarlettes
Cucumber Cups with Crab
Roasted Marcona-Stuffed Dates with Bacon

Need a couple more crowd pleasers. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance, hounds. All the best - and most delicious - for the New Year!!

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  1. Maybe a bruschetta bar? Michael Chiarello's book has some topping suggestions. I like mini bruschettas with white bean spread, but you could also have some tapenades and marinated tomatoes. I'm sure there are tons of ideas for toppings I can't think of right now. I think what you've listed sounds delicious!

    1. How about some sort of grilled shrimp or scallops wrapped in bacon?

      1. I have to second Lauren and suggest shrimp - they are always a crowd pleaser and seem to be the first thing to go. I just served some at a party that I steamed, but then coated in a very light "dressing" of olive oil, lemon, garlic and hot pepper flakes. They were a big hit.

        1. At the risk of being mocked, I ask the following question - what does "ISO" mean?

          2 Replies
          1. I'm guessing the non-dairy's for allergies and not religion (what with the bacon). May I ask what toppings you're using for the risotto? And how are you keeping it warm in the martini glasses? My turns to cement if it gets even slightly cool. . .

            1. Hi tom_in_sf,

              A couple of ideas:

              1. prosciutto with melon - the way to make it bite size and more "elegant" is to make melon balls (using the melon scoop) and wrap small slices of prosciutto around them. No cooking and only require assembling (the best is to use figs (cut a cross on top and stuff prosciutto inside, but it is not in season so I am not sure if you can get them)

              2. Long spring rolls with shrimp or duck and scallions- I notice you don't have any shrimp or duck appetizers, so I put this one. Essentially it could be any meat you want. Use the shanghai spring roll skins (not the egg rolls which are much thicker) and make the spring rolls extra long. Serve them all in a tall flute glass with some dipping sauce on the side. They look very good in the flute glass!

              3. Do you have any desserts? How about berrys in phyllo cups (usually there are whipped cream on top, you can subsitute it with soy whipped cream, available at Whole Foods) or this fruit frizz (a receipe from Nigella) - I love it!


              Hope this helps! Let us know how it turns out!

              1. Thanks everyone for the responses. I actually thought of a bruschetta bar, but because I'm doing the risotto bar, it seemed a bit redundant. I've had good success with bruschetta bars, too. I love the long, thin springrolls idea and the berries in phyllo. Doing something easy and yummy with shrimp would be very smart, so it's a strong contender, thanks.

                The kitchen has a nice big island and the plan is to do a couple of 'interactive' apps, so I'm going to serve the risotto, hot, to the guests and have them assemble their individual risottos at the bar. Toppings, at this point, are caramelized onions, toasted pinenuts, shavings of parm-reg, wild mushrooms, tomato/herb something, and roasted chicken. I'll seperate a small batch for the non-dairy folks before I add the parmesan to the rest. I want to do a lemon risotto as the base. Probably do the mini-beef Wellingtons as the other interactive.

                Dessert is going to be Zabaglione in champagne flutes that I will make with my own Meyer-Lemon Limoncello (this is killer! - Joanne Weir's recipe) . Takes some elbow grease with the whip, but it's worth it (maybe I can cheat with an electric mixer....). I served it for a romantic dinner for two and scattered fresh blueberries on the tablecoth (called it 'A Constellation of Blueberrries' - don't worry, there was no staining; they were supposed to 'play' with the blueberries by tossing them into each other's mouth, etc.). Having something chocolate would be smart too, for later (I'm planning on excusing myself before the midnight toast).

                Menu so far is:

                Ahi and Avocado Ceviche on Sesame Wonton Crisps
                Risotto Bar
                Mini-Beef Wellingtons (found recipes on the boards yesterday - yay!!)
                Mushroom-Leek Brandy Tartlettes
                Marcona Almond Stuffed Dates, roasted with Bacon
                Smoked Salmon on Dark Bread
                Cucumber Cups with Crab
                Shrimp something
                Meyer-Limoncello Zabagliones
                Chocolate something

                Feels like a lot. Only have to make about 24-32 pieces each. I'm doing it all myself, though, so wish me luck.

                Thanks again and Happy New Year!

                1 Reply
                1. re: tom in sf

                  Hi tom_in_sf,

                  I was avoiding anything chocolate as I thought you want it to be completely dairy-free. However, since you are thinking of "chocolate something", I have a suggestion of a super easy chocolate dessert - chocolate fondue!

                  Everytime I had this it became the big hit, as the guests not only enjoy the food but also the fondue experience. It is also easy to assemble, just make the chocolate sauce (make your own or store-bought), cut some fresh fruit / dried fruit, and you are good to go!
                  Last time I also served cubes of raisin bread and people loved it!

                  Of course this is not in anyway dairy free, so some people may not be able to enjoy...

                  Good Luck!

                2. Am I crazy, or isn't there dairy in the pastry for the wellingtons? Just something to think about if this is a big issue for someone.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LulusMom

                    If you use store bought puff pastry, it usually is made with vegetable shortening, not butter, so it's fine for vegan use.

                    1. re: Sugar Jones

                      Thanks so much for explaining. I just assumed the puff pastry was laden with butter (explaining its deliciousness).

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Naturally puff pastry is much more delicious when it's made with butter, but the shortening kind isn't too terrible if you put something nice with it. It becomes a texture thing then. Still yummy indeed.

                  2. This shrimp is absolutely delicious and very easy, I just made it tonight for a dinner party and they went immediately:

                    Spicey baked shrimp


                    1. For something simple, elegant and tasty...lightly cook/steam aspargus, then roll the bottoms with slices of proscuitto that's been spread with dijon mustard, or a creamy horseradish sauce.