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wine party - need budget friendly appetizers!

i was asked to help cater a charity event where a friend is working. a local winery is donating as well so the food should be wine friendly. my usual style is lots of fancy stuff with ingredients like fine cheeses, charcuterie, sausage, bacon, shortribs, etc. but since it's a non-profit, i really need to pare down and give them good simple wine-friendly finger food for a low price. any recs and links are greatly appreciated!! there will be about 50-60 people and i'll be working in a loft kitchen.

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  1. I am such a broken record..gougeres, different cheese in the batter. Make, freeze, heat ...perfect finger food and nearly free

    8 Replies
    1. re: capeanne

      That was my first thought as well.

      1. re: Chris VR

        And, you can make them ahead of time, freeze and reheat.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Hi MMRuth

          I making these this weekend. Do you freeze pre-baked, or after? Thanks!

          1. re: Rubee

            I've frozen them after baking - then reheated. I really want to try the Zuni ones, but lent my book to someone!

            1. re: MMRuth

              Thanks! Yep, the Zuni ones are the ones I'm going to make. I finally have a free weekend with only a half day of work today, so I'm tackling a bunch of projects to stock the freezer - beef stock, Dunlop's potstickers, Zuni gougeres, and crab rangoon ; )

              1. re: Rubee

                What recipe do you use for beef stock? I've never made it!

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Me either. Hope it comes out good!

                  I'm making the Lucques short ribs for the first time for guests next weekend, so I wanted to use good beef stock. I'm going to try the Cook's Illustrated method. I bought some meaty beef shanks from a local Mexican market.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Well, those short ribs are amazing. Enjoy.

    2. "gourmet" popcorn - multiple kinds - parm, cheddar, garlic, spicy, etc
      homemade crackers and dips - hummus, babaganoush, creamy, etc
      baked puff pastry filled with meatblends and/or veggie blends
      veggie and fruit platter
      filled wontons (mostly bock choi)

      1. Veggies are pretty reasonable; roasted and raw would be a nice variety.
        You can make humus pretty cheaply...does that pair well with wine though?
        There was a Chow recipe a while back for marinated mushrooms I tried that was pretty good.
        Chocolate covered fruit (berries, apples, ect.) would also be pretty reasonable, no?

        EDIT: This has been mentioned on the boards before, but I am terrible with the search function. I googled NYT best appetizer list and found this:


        Plenty of variety here, you're bound to find something... good luck :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: enbell

          Instead of humus, try this bean puree instead -- its very wine friendly: http://blog.firecooked.com/2007/05/13.... Cook your own beans to make even more budget friendly. Serve with vegetables and pita crisps (make from split quarters of pita bread, bit of oil, and toast in oven)..

        2. Stuffed mushrooms using its stem, is a good way to fill the mushrooms without having to add to many exotic items. Saute the chopped stem with green onion, garlic, butter, add a little ham, bread crumbs and mozzerella. Then top with mozz and bread crumbs. I use large mushrooms, its like little pizzas. Hey - there another easy one, pizza, use a cookie sheet, cut into squares. Both can be done ahead, just pop in the oven and serve.

          I was going to suggest quesadillas but rememeber that they tend to harden and not be as appetizing when they sit too long...the tortilla doesn't hold up as well. I don't think anyway.

          1. All sorts of things with chicken livers, chicken hearts,.and chicken gizzards.

            1. These are some old school favorites that are inexpensive, but fairly easy to make:

              1. Spanakopita (cheese & spinach stuffed in Filo pastry) can be frozen ahead
              2. Spinach balls (Pep Farm stuffing, eggs, spinach) form into small balls, freezes well
              3. Veggie pizza, uses crescent roll crusts, cheese mixture of Ranch dressing, cream cheese, layer on any kind of veggies you choose, cut in pie shaped wedges
              4. Mini quiche - lay down pie dough in mini muffin cups, fill with custard mixture and sauteed mushrooms, onion or other veggie mixtures
              5. Cracker & dip/chip options (cheese, guacamole, salsa, queso fundido, chopped liver, blue cheese, etc)

              Let me know if you want any recipes.

              1. Make Crispy Cups by lightly oiling wonton wrappers, stuffing them into the cups of a mini-muffin tin and baking @350F for 8-10 minutes until GB&D. Remove and cool. Then stuff with a puree of appropriately herbed and spiced white beans & artichoke hearts, garbanzos & hearts of palm, mandarin oranges & jicama, white grapes and walnuts, or even guacamole.

                1. you've already got tons of great ideas here, i'll just offer one thought i had - blinis can be really budget-friendly if you skip the traditional caviar topping & get creative.
                  some ideas:
                  - goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes & basil
                  - smoked salmon, cream cheese or creme fraiche, & dill
                  - salmon mousse (made with canned salmon)
                  - tapenade
                  - egg salad & chives
                  - spinach & feta
                  - ricotta & lemon zest

                  also, don't forget about crostini/bruschetta...very versatile.

                  1. artichokes stuffed with blue cheese....small crab cakes....home made spiced nuts.....fruit with dips....

                    1. I forgot to add a favorite, small new potatoes, cut one end off and boiling and use a mellon baller to scoop out a small hole.

                      Fill with olive tapenade, cheese, sourcream and chives, bacon and sour cream, salsa and cheese, just veggies, broccoli and cheddar, ham and swiss, you name it, seafood, I've done apple, walnuts and cranberries, blue cheese and pancetta.

                      The potatoes are so cheap and the filling so little it is a great way to make a lot for very little money. It can be alot of fun too. I sometimes cut a small bit off the bottom so they stand up which helps but not necessary. I use only small bite size potatoes and just boil till soft but not mushy, just enough to scoop out a small hole. 5-10 minutes in boiling water.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I do the potatoes with sour cream, a sprig of dill and a little strip of smoked salmon isn't cheap, but you use so little that it doesn't cost much.

                        I also want to put in a plug for pesto pizza, always a huge hit.

                        1. re: lulubelle

                          Pesto pizza with some goat cheese and marinated artichoke hearts chopped. I make the small ones and cute into thin slices. Great idea. Love small pizzas.

                          Actually I mix top the pesto with the hearts and usually a little thin shallot slices, a few red pepper flakes and some goat cheese. Mozzarella also works just as well. Very simple, inexpensive and great.

                      2. I wish I was near you so I could show you. Apps are cheap and easy and you could be a star baby!

                        1. I third gougeres. They are cheap and easy. I freeze after cooking and just pop in the oven to reheat, as well. Parmesan cheese crackers, mix of olives, mushroom caps stuffed with braised beef and horseradish jelly, crostini, home made puff pastry is cheap and easy - make cheese sticks, mini pisaladiere