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Feb 1, 2008 02:16 PM

Ideas for French-themed appetizers?

My preliminary dissertation orals are quick-approaching and apparently one of the traditions is to serve one's committee members food during the presentation. I think it has to do something with keeping them happy and fed so that they enter a food coma and therefore can't ask too many questions or interrupt.

Given that my orals are in the late afternoon, I've gotten it in my head that I want to serve French-themed appetizers/small bite-type items - rather like small things you'd have at a tea. While I have the sweet side down (palmiers, cannel├ęs, mendiants, perhaps madeleines as well) - I'm rather stymied by the savory side.

My requirements: able to be kept at room temperature for the entire day and can be served at room temperature (ie, no access to stove/oven day of orals), and preferably I can make it a couple of days before, or the day before my orals at the latest. Also - not something overly complicated? I do realize I should actually be spending the bulk of my time writing and preparing my presentation, rather than cooking (as much fun as the latter is).

(There is a fridge somewhere in our building at school, but I'm always leery of using it because it looks like it's never been cleaned out. So, if worse comes to worse, I can store things there for the day.)

I found a recipe for hazelnut and thyme "matchsticks" (rather like crackers, I think), on Chocolate and Zucchini (website down, can't link right now) that I might attempt. I did think about mini-quiches, but for whatever reason they seem too daunting to make from scratch at this point (although I make regular-sized quiches all the time). Salmon rillettes were an idea, but I fear that they might be a bit too fishy (also - one professor is pregnant).

Will gougeres keep overnight and the next day? Is there a tasty savory madeleine recipe? Other ideas? My professors know that I like to cook, so I have a bit of a reputation to maintain here.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. How about some good French cheeses and bread, plus some unusual jam? (it's quite French to not refridgerate the cheese). Homemade pate would also be wonderful, but probably would want to refridgerate (could triple wrap to stave off scary things from the fridge). Of course, this would be complemented by a nice glass of wine :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: firecooked

      The French themselves usually serve quite simple apps like spiced nuts and interesting olives. Otherwise, cheeses or pates and crackers as above - try goat cheese with a dollop of fig jam on top. Also typically French is smoked salmon - I spead toasts with Philly cream cheese with chives very lightly, then lay over the salmon and a very thin lemon slice. I would try to store these in a cooler or maybe the dreaded fridge.

      1. re: vgorgue

        Just be careful with the cheeses-a nice epoisse really grooves at room temp.-but as with most other washed rind cheeses, the gooier it gets, the stinkier it smells. I wouldn't put a pregnant woman in the same room for any period of time ;-)
        A charcuterie plate or pate would be nice with a sliced baguette-again, watch the odors.
        Cold vishysoise
        Crostini with sliced beef tenderloin and horseradish, and/or olive tapenade topping
        Good luck btw!

    2. would some kind of green bean dish be suitable? i'm also thinking something with pistou, like this

      or perhaps pissaladiere??

      4 Replies
      1. re: im_nomad

        Bingo! Pissaladiere would be great! Probably baked off on the morning of serving, though. But it can and should be kept at room temperature.

        1. re: im_nomad

          The stuffed cherry tomatoes are an excellent idea. Maybe I'll make a lentil salad as well, rather than a green bean dish.

          I do love a good pissaladiere, but I don't think it keeps that well overnight, sadly. I'm at school the entire day, and won't have time to do any preparation in the morning.

          1. re: jacinthe

            one of my favorites...french lentil salad with carmelized balsamic vinaigrette: