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Hors d'oeuvres for holiday cocktail party

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I'm in charge of making all the hors d'oeuvres for a Christmas cocktail party that my parents are throwing. I'm looking for some suggested recipes or even just even favorite dishes from restaurants I can try to improvise. I really want to go balls out because I live in a small NYC apartment and I don't have the kitchen set-up or space to make really great and interesting food. This provides me a rare opportunity to do basically whatever I want in a professional kitchen and not foot the bill either. Basically I need to make hors d'oeuvres/snacks for 30-40 people. I was thinking 4-6 different ones with different main ingredients. They must be able to be 90% prepped in advance, all I'll really be able to do is heat them up or add a finishing touch. These people are all middle/middle upper class Minnesota suburbanites, who appreciate good food as much as the next guy, but they're definitely not foodies, so I don't want anything too fancy that won't be appreciated. I'm especially looking for dishes that are a really cool and surprising twist on a classic.

Basically this is what I'm thinking now in broad terms (I need your specific suggestions):

1. Something salty and starchy like (some kind of chips/pretzels like thing but with an interesting twist. Maybe with a dip

2. Seafood based dish. I make a tuna tartar (cliche these days I know) thats a crowd pleaser, but I've made it twice for this group before and am looking for something new. Maybe shrimp or crab or a fish besides tuna or salmon that can be served raw.

3. Cheeses. Pretty much settled on this one. Going to use some sweet compliments ala Mario Batali. At Otto, the cheese plate is served with a plate with black pepper honey, apricot chutney, and real maraschino cherries. Unique and delicious.

4. Something with duck (not fois gras)

5. Something with lamb or beef.

6. A couple of sweet things but nothing too heavy or complicated. Thinking of something carmel and crunchy and something based on something very familiar with a twist (like the deconstructed Snickers bar at Per Se or maybe some kind of fancy version of oreos)

I'm open to any suggestions from any category though. I just want it to be interesting and different.

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  1. Lots of ideas here:

    http://www.angelfire.com/bc2/toast/re...

    1 Reply
    1. re: mpalmer6c

      Hi Binford:

      FWIW, I'm putting my ideas together for a Christmas Eve cocktail party that I am co-hosting at a friend's house. This is my plan in the works, so far:

      1. Stuffed Mushrooms, Silver Palate
      2. Mini Beef Wellingtons http://foodandwine.com/recipes/mini-b...
      3. Chestnut Soup http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (double or triple, make 1 day ahead, serve in little cups, no spoons required
      )4. Champagne Punch http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
      5. Crostini with Spicy Green Olivada http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
      6. Rustic Nut Bars http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

      All can be prepped way ahead. Hope at least some of this fits the bill.

    2. Well, binford, what did you come up with? This is my dillema every first weekend of December in MPLS (although born and raised suburbanite). And after doing this for the last 8 years I have exhausted EVERYTHING, it seems, this year! I can't believe I didn't come across your post last year. Any input would be appreciated...

      1. A huge hit at any cocktail party I have ever had. From the Williams-Sonoma Small Plates cookbook.
        Roasted Dates with Parmesan and Bacon
        1/4 lb parmesan cheese
        2 T. cream cheese, room temp
        18 pitted dates
        6 slices bacon, each cut crosswise into 3 pieces

        Preheat oven to 400F and place a baking sheet in the oven to hear. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan and cream cheese, mix until smooth.
        Slice each date along one side to make a pocket and insert 1-2 tsp of the cheese filling. Wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed date. The bacon should cover the opening in the date and overlap slightly. Secure the date with toothpicks. (Can be refrigerated overnight; return to room temp for about 15 minutes before roasting.)
        Using tongs, place the dates on the hot baking sheet. Roast until the bacon is crisp, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve right away.