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Appetizer with "Wow Factor" to bring to a Friend's House

I'm going to my friend's house next weekend and I'm bringing the appetizer. I would not only like to bring a food that everyone will swoon over, but one that really wows them too. Any ideas or at the very least...do you have a fav appetizer that you serve?

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  1. I have a few that *wow* at least some of us...but can you give us some specifics on the rest of the meal, as it will help with suggestions and recipe garnering. Cay

    1. I have asked them what they are preparing, but they aren't sure yet. ANY ideas you can give me, I'd REALLY appreciate :) Thanks!

      1. Dates with goat cheese stuffed in 'em and wrapped in prosciutto. Or maybe smoked salmon and goat cheese bruschettas. I'm on a big goat cheese thing lately.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KayceeK

          Suzanne Goin or Lucques also has a variation of the dates where it's stuffed with parmesan cheese and wrapped with bacon. And Penelope Casas has one stuffed with chorizo and wrapped with bacon. The goat cheese and proscuitto sound yuumy as well.

          1. re: KayceeK

            Another option for stuffed dates is with marscapone cheese mixed with lemon zest and topped with a good chunky sea salt. If you have access to an oven, roast the dates a little (10 minutes at 375) before piping in the cheese and lemon zest.

            1. re: KayceeK

              i love all these stuffed dates ideas!

            2. A few recent favorites during the holidays:

              Homemade vegetable egg rolls, thin like cigars with a spicy sweet-sour dipping sauce
              Individual cheese dip with crusty bread on a stick
              Bacon wrapped shrimp
              Caprese salad on a stick
              Bananas & nutella stuffed wonton wrappers or banana wontons with nutella dip
              Cheesecake pops
              Avocado & crab salad served in a mini taco shell
              Pesto grilled tomatoe slices serve on a cracker

              11 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                "Bananas & nutella stuffed wonton wrappers or banana wontons with nutella dip"

                You are so evil. This sounds amazing!

                1. re: Catskillgirl

                  Catsk-they are evil good! So simple too.
                  One banana cut lengthwise & in half makes four wontons.
                  Either spread a thin layer of the nutella on the wrapper first or use it as a dip after.
                  I pan fry them ahead of time in peanut oil, drain well and store in the freezer until I'm ready to serve then I warm the batch in my toaster oven prior to serving. I don't make them too far ahead of party plans because the banana will darken.

                  But they are (too) yummy!

                  FWIW, I've also wrapped fresh strawberries & nutella too. But, the berries have to be really sweet & ripe to stand out.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    Are you using wonton wrappers or egg roll wrappers? Because 1/4 of a banana sounds awfully large to fit into a standard wonton wrapper.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      MN, I've used both. 1/2 a banana sliced in 1/2 lengthwise fits but certainly you can trim smaller or keep larger depending on the size appetizer you'd like to make. It's flexible. Wonton makes a purse, egg roll makes a cigar.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Well, I definitely have to try that one one of these days. Thanks!

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          My pleasure! I've been wanting to try apricots & nutella, maybe a mango chutney too...oh the possibilities! hehe.

                    2. re: HillJ

                      I wonder... if you replace the nutella with sweetened marscapone would the strawberries stand out better?

                      ETA: If you want to try mango chutney, I make this one quite a bit and they disappear every time (filling makes a nice sandwich IF there's any leftover) http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2008/04/25... (scroll to the 2nd recipe)

                      1. re: maplesugar

                        oh so interesting maples! I would not have considered marscapone, must try it next time. Thanks for the link!

                      2. re: HillJ

                        I"m wondering how well they'd work if baked at 350 instead of fried... and if they would hold up any longer? how long do you find they last when fried?

                        have you ever drizzled lemon juice on the nanas to stop them from browning?

                        1. re: Emme

                          Emme, When baked they did not hold up well and are a completely diff experience. I fry the wrapped bananas up to 2 hours before serving. I use semi ripe bananas because the frying softens them. The bananas brown a bit during the cooking process anyway.

                          Having said that, if you want to try a baked version, I would wrap the bananas in phyllo instead.

                        2. re: HillJ

                          ooh...Sounds so good. Just give me a spoon and the jar of Nutella and I will be WOWWED!

                    3. This is so easy, but always gets gobbled up. I like it better with (toasted) walnuts.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sunangelmb

                        Haha this is exactly what I was about to suggest!

                        1. re: Cebca

                          I do a stupid simple Brie cheese dish that never has any left overs...

                          Sweet Pecan and Brie

                          1 Cup of coarsely chopped pecans
                          1 tsp butter
                          ¼ C of brown Sugar - may need more want it like syurp!
                          ¼ C water

                          Toast the pecan over med high heat, about 4 to 5 minutes, tossing regularly, now add the butter, toss again to coat the pecan with the butter, sprinkle in the brown sugar add the water and let cook for about 4 to 5 minutes – sauce should be thick to coat the back of a spoon.

                          Place on top of warmed or room temperature brie

                          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                            An alternative is to use a flavored honey as well. A Greek thyme honey would very well. I *think* my friends have just baked the brie, and then poured the honey over top in the last few minutes to get it runny and warm.

                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                I also use spicy spicy nuts on top, that is also really good

                        2. Something I've always found crowd dazzling and little to no work for me is a big heaping platter of crab claws. Only problem is that, depending on where you live and where you shop, it can be harder on your wallet than it s on how much work you have to do. But every time I take them to a party or serve them at home, everyone ooohs and ahhhs and eats!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Oooo, but buying some picked crab meat and making some mini crab cakes with a sauce stretches that wallet. Say, appy sized crab cakes along with some aioli, some red bell pepper sauce, and a mustardy-sauce-of-some-sort as accompaniments would be great, and a great way to spread that crab around.


                          2. I empathize with your appetizer dilemma. I'm always trying to make something fantastic to impress my family with when I go to functions, with mixed results. I've even gone so far as to make my own crackers. My most popular (read, gobbled up quickly with rave reviews) are as follows, with links to the recipes at the bottom.

                            1) Cumin-Roasted Potatoes with Caviar and Smoked Salmon

                            These are awesome with a capital A. I came across the recipe a couple of years ago because I preserved a bunch of lemons and was looking for ways to use them. I took them to my cousin's house for dinner, and they still talk about them. I've been known to whip up a batch sans caviar just to snack on.

                            2) Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes and Honey

                            Really, really good. The first time I did these I actually cooked them on my charcoal grill, which I fully intend to go back to once it gets warm enough to grill again in Seattle. Since, I've switched up the herbs\fruit\cheese combo with whatever is in season, most recently with thyme, strawberries, and chevre with an aged balsamic (the syrupy kind) to replace the honey. The original grapes + blue cheese combo is still my favorite though.

                            3) Pear, Leek and Gruyère Turnovers

                            I made them in miniature and took them to a Christmas Eve party with my family, and they've been requested every year since. I change up the cheese, and sometimes make them with apples.

                            Good luck and let us know what you end up making!




                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Brunhilde

                              I've made those pear, leek and gruyere turnovers and totally back up Brunilde. They're fairly easy to make (but don't seem like it) and delicious.

                            2. Phyllo Cigars stuffed with brie, raspberry jam and chopped almonds or walnuts

                              Figs Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Walnuts then wrapped in Bacon

                              ...are we talking passed appetizers? or plated / sit-down appetizer as in a salad or something of the like...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Emme

                                emme I have a whole unopened box of phyllo can I get the recipe for the cigars?

                                1. re: drewb123

                                  recipe is loose...

                                  flatten sheets out, brush with butter, spread with a layer of brie, then a layer of jam, sprinkle on nuts and roll up... bake til golden

                                  sometimes i do it with feta/mascarpone and chopped caramelized onions (or do this in baked filo cups instead...)

                              2. Blini under sour cream under caviar.

                                1. Can you do the appetizer AT the friend's house? We loved this and it definitely has the WOW factor:


                                  4 Replies
                                      1. re: mirage

                                        no really..... I want it now... now to find where to buy caviar and creme fraiche.... they're not normal supermarket ingredients i'm assuming, lol. I've eaten them both out many times, but never eaten at home....

                                        1. re: kubasd

                                          You can make the Creme Fraiche pretty easily at home.

                                          Warm 1 cup of Pasteurized Cream (Ultra Pasteurized takes much longer) to just over 100 degrees

                                          Stir in one tablespoon of Buttermilk

                                          Put into Bowl, put a tea towel over the bowl and let it sit out (unrefrigerated) for about 24 hours.

                                          Stir about every 6-8 hours. Refrigerate a few hours before using.

                                  1. I made a steak and blue cheese bruschetta recently that went over really well.

                                    My step daughter over Easter made asparagus bundles: asp, a great cheese, proschutto wrapped in phylo. I think this was it:

                                    I'm a shrimp lover so a nice marinaded shrimp with rosemary and garlic, wrapped in proschutto would be it or like this one wrapped in phyllo with feta and greens:

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: lexpatti

                                      Things wrapped in phyllo always get WOWed at. I almost always have a box in the freezer. That and a box of puff pastry- you can get wacky with the possibilities...

                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                        I have this recipe from my mother, who;s been making it for years, and it is always, without fail, an incredibly popular appetizer

                                      2. I suggest this all the time because it's one thing that people always swoon over. Devein large shrimp, put a sliver of jalapeno in it, wrap w/ bacon and secure w/ toothpick. Sprinkle brown sugar over it and bake. You can do the same w/ hot dogs which kids devour. No matter how many I make, I always run out.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Wow, that DOES sound good (the shrimp, not the hot dogs!). ;) Will have to try.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            Those are called Snake Bites. Some even do them with Jack cheese.

                                            1. re: Phurstluv

                                              I hate snakes, so I shall call them "snack bites" with a nod to my friend c oliver, who posted about not wanting to eat a "beating snack heart." :) She was hungry--what else can we say?

                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                We call the hot dog ones heart attacks.

                                              2. re: chowser

                                                This sounds great and I need an app for an upcoming party. Do you put a whole slice of bacon on each shrimp? And what temp do you bake and for how long? Thanks chowser. :)

                                                1. re: mcel215

                                                  No, just about 1/3 of a strip. I want to say about 425 for 10 minutes but it can be broiled, too. I haven't done these in a long time--I have to put them back in my rotation again. They're really good.

                                              3. I love to make gougeres becuase the dough is SO EASY to make yet they taste like you're a professional baker. You can put gruyere in the dough and eat them on their own, or cut them in half and make little sandwich bites. So easy! Alton Brown has an easy recipe for them that I follow.

                                                1. This onion jam and goat cheese toast recipe was just in the Boston Globe's food section yesterday - a friend has done something similar, and it is so incredibly good!


                                                  1. You really need ot either get an idea of what they are considering serving, or know enough about their level of culinary proficiency to choose something that will not be out of place with the rest of the meal.

                                                    I find, especially with potlucks, that there is often a passive-aggressive one-upsmanship scenario in place, which is quite rude to the hosts. If they are serving a simple, basic
                                                    meal it would be poor form to make an elaborate appetizer or one with very assertive flavors. On the other hand, if everyone's a foodie, let your creativity run wild!

                                                    1. Without knowing the rest of the menu, it would be very difficult to suggest a recommendation for an app. It's also unclear whether this is a passed or sit-down app. I could suggest making pear and pecorino ravioli but then the main course might be jambalaya - wouldn't work.

                                                      Since the hosts have yet to have a menu plan, you might suggest an evening of tapas - everyone could make one or two for an dinner of tastings. Push your hosts for the menu or bring some wine instead.

                                                      1. If it's a sit-down app, make shrimp ceviche and serve it in teacups with popcorn scattered around the saucer. The shrimp is cooked so you don't have to worry about raw seafood, and its pretty easy to make but seems very impressive. Clearly you will have to know the rest of the menu before deciding this route, however.

                                                        1. Lots and lots of excellent ideas here already, but there was also a thread awhile back that you might want to mark as a favorite: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5732...

                                                          1. I agree with the posts that warn about what to bring when you don't know what they're serving - so as not to clash, rehash or offend anyone!

                                                            However, I make this all the time for many types of events, it's super simple and it always goes over BIG.

                                                            Take 8 oz. of shallots, trimmed & quartered and one medium onion, cut into 8 wedges and saute in 2 tbsp of butter, on med-low heat, along with 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped dried cherries, and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover & cook until onions are soft & caramelized, about 12 minutes.

                                                            Stir in 3 tbsp of sugar, cook, covered for another 10-12 minutes, until caramelized. Add 1/4 cup of sherry vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until liquid has evaporated and mixture is deep brown, about 1 hour. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and can be served at room temp. In fact is best at room temp, but can be kept in fridge for a week. Bring up to room temp before serving.

                                                            I serve it with a wedge of Manchego cheese and a french baguette. Delicious. Enjoy!

                                                            P.S. I can't believe I just posted one of my best recipes!! ;)

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: Phurstluv

                                                              That sounds absolutely fabulous, and the make-ahead factor is a plus. I'm going to try it tomorrow. Thanks for posting.

                                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                I made this recipe, and although I haven't tried it with the cheese and baguette yet I am looking forward to it. It starts out with the beautiful colors of the pale purple shallot, the whit of the onion, the deep purple cherries and the surprise of the green thyme...it's lovely. Then the cooking begins and the wonderful smells of caramelizing shallots and onions fill the house. The whole mess turns a deep purple, but the individual ingredients maintain their structure - you can identify the cherries and the shapes of the shallot quarters, although they are limp. I could have eaten the whole batch standing there at the stove. I look forward to trying it with the cheese.

                                                                1. re: pcdarnell

                                                                  So glad you enjoyed it - it really does fill the house with a wonderful aroma, another added bonus. Definitely try some with the cheese - it goes just beautifully!

                                                                2. re: Phurstluv

                                                                  Do you use sweet or tart dried cherries?

                                                                  1. re: nance

                                                                    Don't really think it matters - but I believe the dried cherries I use are traditionally sweet or like bing cherries, as opposed to sour cherries.

                                                                    1. re: nance

                                                                      I used dried bing cherries.
                                                                      I also had to cover the pan for a while after adding the liquid or it would have evaporated well before the hour was up. I took the cover off after a while and reduced the liquid over low heat to achieve maximum cooking time.

                                                                    2. re: Phurstluv

                                                                      Yum, I can vouch that this is very good. I've made a shallot cherry confit recipe (from Martha Stewart maybe?) that is very similar and it was a hit and very easy.

                                                                      1. re: bananie

                                                                        Yes, you got it! Would never claim that I thought it up all by myself! Only to my non-CH neighbors!!! LOL!

                                                                    3. Really easy and this always wows people. Chicken or beef satay skewers served with peanut sauce in lettuce leaves. Really easy, perfect for an app and no need to do much once you get to the party. I bring them all the time and there is a line and they're gone within 10 mins of my arrival...

                                                                      1. I don't see where in the OP it refers to the hosts or implies that this poster has concerns that might clash, offend or upstage the menu but, perhaps the OP can return and give us some feedback with the wonderful suggestions offered so far.

                                                                        I'm taking notes like mad!

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          I think it's unique to CH and people who like food that food must all go together. Most people I know IRL don't care or notice and most potlucks are along the lines of, "XXXX brings appetizers, YYYY brings dessert, I'll provide the main, see you Saturday."

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            I agree chowser. And, when you come to my place feel free to bring whatever you enjoy making!

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              Thanks-ditto. I know I'd enjoy anything you'd bring, too. My MIL knows her eggrolls are loved, no matter what anyone is serving. Italian food? Bring the eggrolls!

                                                                            2. re: chowser


                                                                              If the hosts were so worried about making sure the app didn't clash, they would have the menu completely planned.

                                                                          2. Filo or wonton purses filled with boursin cheese and truffle oil. Tie shut with a chive.

                                                                            Sigara boureki filled with sausage, roasted red peppers and feta, served with garlic yogurt with aleppo brown butter.

                                                                            Samosa chaat (basically mild potato samosas smothered in a dazzling rainbow of yogurt, pickled onions, tamarind chutney, cilantro chutney, rice puffs, chilis and chaat powder).

                                                                            Deviled mini crabcakes with chipotle remoulade

                                                                            1. Dates stuffed with hickory smoked almonds... wrapped in bacon and then broiled. Unusual and delicious for most people.

                                                                              Bacon wrapped anything really... do we have a thread on that yet?

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Andria

                                                                                Yup, there is a current bacon thread on General Chowhounding to savor! :)


                                                                                1. re: Andria

                                                                                  Mom used to make bacon wrapped water chestnuts for her parties, way back when - I still love them - the salty crunch is perfect. I like them better then bacon wrapped scallops

                                                                                2. Smoked salmon thin sliced on a pumpernickle bread topped with an olive tapenade and then topped with a sour cream dill. When I make these I usually always do 2-3 different small appetizers so people can take their pick. Usually my sun dried tomato spread with arugula and goat cheese and then my crab spread with mango, pecans avacado with fresh mint. All three different, all three on different breads. But all the same size. Just fun to have the variety.

                                                                                  28 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                    I make something similar. Homemade pumpernickel in bite sized pieces, with butter, topped with smoked salmon and topped with capers and a bit of fresh dill. Also, pumpernickel, goat cheese, and homemade olive tapenade. I mix green and kalmata olives for the tapenade, or just plain black olives, capers, anchovies and evoo.

                                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                      First, I'm pretty traditional when it comes to lox. And I think people who like it don't want a "base flavor" of anything other than the lox. I make olive tapenades alot and I just think it's too assertive and "busy" with a flavor as simple as the salmon. So I might do a small schmear (?sp) of cream cheese, the lox, a couple of capers and a couple of minced pieces of red onion.

                                                                                      Again, just my taste, sun dried tomato spread with arugula AND goat cheese is one ingredient too many. Same with the rarb. Crab and mango and pecans and avocado and mint. All wonderful flavors so why not just use two or three instead of five?

                                                                                      I guess I'm a less is more person when it comes to ingredients. More inclined to leave something out than to add a little more. When I eat something, I want just one thing to be the headliner, the one taste that shines through all the others.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        "Less is more" is definitely the way to go. You don't want to muddle the tastebuds up at the beginning of a dinner with lots of flavors all mixed together; just have a few flavors that really let you know they're the star for those nibbles.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          When I'm lucky enough to get served an amuse bouche, it's always a pefect little bite, spread, soup spoon's worth that gets me figuratively (or litterally!) rubbing my hands togethere and going, oh, goody, can't wait to see/taste the main event.

                                                                                          After our daughter's wedinng, there were cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres. The two I tasted were a tuna tartare in a mini Chinese soup spoon and tiny oysters on the half shell on a bed of rock salt. Perfect, I thought.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            Bingo! I'm part of a dinner club that had our first dinner last weekend - the theme was "Famous Crimes", and the amuse bouche was based on Bloody Mary (Queen Mary) - a simple, tasty, briny oyster with a Bloody Mary granita. The slight bite of the hot sauce, lemon juice, and tomato worked perfectly with the sea-salty oyster and its liquor.

                                                                                            AND we got the rest of the Bloody Mary mix that wasn't used for the granita served in a cordial glass as a shot. It was a PERFECT start to our Famous Crimes dinner. :-)

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              Clever! I've thought for years of trying to organize something like that. Need to look around for similarly inspired people. Thanks for sharing that.

                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            Less to a degree, mine isn't too many flavor, they all compliment. I haven't seen much of anything else I would rather have. Sorry.

                                                                                            My tastes. I like and try to make things that my guest would enjoy rather than just me. Sometime I like just oysters, but maybe not my guests. So I try to make things I know they enjoy. Simple to me is sometimes boring.

                                                                                            But again, just my pallet and what I have found in my area to be enjoyed. And again, every region and everyones tastes are different which is fine.

                                                                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                              Sorry, I have to agree with c oliver on one of your suggestions - crab, mango, pecans, avocado and mint is way too many flavors - for me and probably most of my friends. The only one I'd probably enjoy out of what you listed was the sundried tomato spread with arugula and goat cheese.

                                                                                              But then again, everyone's palates are different. If that works in your area as a catering item, OK then.

                                                                                          3. re: c oliver

                                                                                            They are all top favorites in my catering. I use a little of each just to give a taste but nothing over powers the other. I hate 1 or 2 ingredients appetizers. The sundried is very plain that I make so the arugula and simple goat cheese make a nice contrast. My basic sundried is some herb, and tomatoes and olives oil simple and pureed and on the toast, then a slight additional of a few arugula leaves and then some goat cheese. 3 ingredients. What is so complicated with that.

                                                                                            I cater with this all the time and it is highly requested as is my salmon.

                                                                                            Sorry, my taste. I love salmon and eat is plain, but also like a nice appetizer too.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Realistically, none of us can possibly know how kchurchill5's appetizers and hors d'oeuvres taste, since we've never tasted them. Some of my best food memories consist of flavour combinations I would have thought odd...

                                                                                              1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                Except we *do* know what crab, mango, pecans, avocado and mint all taste like individually. And I'd like to think and hope that people posting on a food board know their *own* tastes and what flavors go together in their *own* mouths.

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  Exactly. We're not talking chemical reactions here :) The more I eat and cook the more I know about what I like and don't. And I have discovered from eating at a few stellar restaurants that the simplest preparations can be the most memorable. The one where you wake up the next morning and swoon just over the memory :) For me, less is more. For others, more is better. Would that be an AYCE approach? Just kidding.

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    My point is that there's no way of knowing if there's 1 microgram or 1 gram of pecans in her recipe, if it's toasted, ground up, hidden underneath.... Sometimes we can eat something and not even know the mystery ingredient... Just saying. And, while I understand that you think you wouldn't like kchurchill5's ideas, I must say I was taken aback at others' criticisms, especially since apparently some people do, and neither the op, nor kchurchill5 are serving any of us...

                                                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                      And FYI, the crab, mango and avacado are a base salad topped with fine crushed pecans just as a light crunch and a touch of mint as a garnish., but they all work with a little lime in the crab salad with the fruit to give a light flavor and then the pecan lightly toasted and just ground for just a slight garnish almost like breadcrumbs on the toast with a mint sprig. Much lighter flavors than most realized. Very simple clean flavors which actually is my best seller or favorite among everything for catering and at the restaurant I write recipes for up north.

                                                                                                  2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                    Everyone is different which makes it interesting. That is a good thing

                                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                The olive gives a nice base flavor a simple slice of the salmon and just a dob of sour cream and I just like to add a little dill. Catering it is a favorite. I usually do 3 different on a platter for those who don't like salmon or don't like crab so I offer a variety. I enjoy.

                                                                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                  I too need an appetizer for a large group. We are going to an 80th buffet birthday party. About 60 guests are expected. I really don't want to spend the time and the money on shrimp, crab, etc..or baked pastries.

                                                                                                  This may sound passe, but I was thinking about making a 7 layer taco dip, guac, beans, tomato, onions, possibly hamburger (I have to look at my ancient recipe). Since it is a buffet and the appetizers will be served first, it seems like an easy thing to make for such a large crowd. Most of the guests will be older and probably don't enjoy or eat really rich food.

                                                                                                  From my brief conversation with the hostess, she will be serving a typical cold buffet, cold cuts, salads etc..

                                                                                                  I could kick myself for volunteering. The hostess kept saying that she had everything taken care of, visiting family etc.., and that she was fine food-wise. Pushy dummy that I am, I kept insisting until she gave in. Now I am having second thoughts, but I would feel foolish backing out. Although I don't think my hostess would mind.

                                                                                                  Any other suggestions .. I have a month and I have been racking my brain. Cream cheese and crab dip, too many mushrooms to stuff .... please help.

                                                                                                  1. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                    I think your dip sounds great and I'm sure others will weigh in on specific recs. I would only add that if/when you make the dip, I'd make it all in its purest sense, i.e., homemade chunky guac, whole beans, etc. That's just my preference.

                                                                                                    1. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                      I make an easy, really pretty dome cheese spread where you layer a blend of cream ch/parm (can even use goat cheese with herbs), then a layer of pesto, then another layer of creamy cheese, then a layer of chopped sundried tomatoes, then another layer of cheese. If you've done this in a bowl wrapped in saran wrap, turn upside down and you have a beautiful dip - looks like this but I use a nice bowl:

                                                                                                      Also this layered greek dip is great and pleasing to the eye - I've had it and loved it:

                                                                                                      An easy and pretty one is also the little kabobs of motz cheese ball, cherry tomato and basil leaf:

                                                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                        lexpatti, of course you love that first dip--it's a tower! ;) Seriously, that is an excellent choice. I had it once at an event and it tastes as wonderful as it looks.

                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                          it's all about layers!!! lol Dont' ya just love beautiful food?

                                                                                                      2. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                        oh, and it's not passe - that 7 layer mexican dip is always a hit - I personally love it myself. You could really jazz it up by using an interesting dish to serve it.

                                                                                                        1. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                          if you want to do a dip, this spinach artichoke dip is always well-received...

                                                                                                          you could also do a baked brie in a large hollowed out bread bowl

                                                                                                          finally, meatballs are *really* easy

                                                                                                          1. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                            the thing about something like that 7-layer dip is that after a few people dig in, the dish looks, well, kinda gross.

                                                                                                            what about something in a pan that can be sliced into portions? like spanakopita or frittata? lately i've been making "pizzas" on armenian bread. it's a flat rectangular loaf that lends well to all sorts of toppings, like mushrooms and feta, or olives, tomatoes and feta, even ham and swiss. i bake it and slice it into squares. it's equally good room temp. you could also use puff pastry for this.

                                                                                                            1. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                              I like layer dips and they usually go over well but in a large crowd of 60, I agree w/ hotoynoodle that it'll end up looking pretty funky as people scoop and you often end up with a dip that doesn't look appetizing. Something like the cream cheese and crab would be great because the last bite is the same as the first. I personally have an issue w/ dips and double dipping but it's come up before and it seems few people do. I do serve the dip w/ a spoon.

                                                                                                              I like things served in bite-sized pieces, eg chicken salad (I recently did chicken, pear and pecans and they were really good) on endive, smoked salmon mousse on cucumber wedges. They're easy to do en masse and easy to serve.

                                                                                                              1. re: Canthespam

                                                                                                                IMO if she is serving a elegant cold buffett for an older crowd 7 layer dip my look out of place,,, just not really fit. ...which may be why she didn't want any help.Who knows maybe she is a control freak like me.
                                                                                                                I would pick something that is a tad more upscale looking....better to be too nice than too lowbrow.

                                                                                                                1. re: LaLa

                                                                                                                  I would never consider a taco dip for an elegant buffet - in fact I would figure that the menu had been very very carefully planned to the last detail and I would not feel comfortable adding in an unknown factor.

                                                                                                                  This will be a nice, but casual event, as she said they would have cold cuts and salad, nice but certainly not elegant. It is in a small town in Northern California, where we have our vacation home. It is very very very hot during the summer and stays that way until midnight (!!). The hostess definitely is in charge, a semi-control freak, unlike me who is a total control freak. There will be about 60 people and you are probably right about the taco dip turning to an ugly mush. Double dipping disgusts me.

                                                                                                                  Whatever I do end up making, will be on several plates/bowls to keep it neater looking.

                                                                                                                  The guests will mostly be older, 60 - 80, and hopefully good eaters.

                                                                                                            2. A version of this has been floating around the internet, but this is how I adapted it and it's gobbled up every time I make it. It serves a lot of people. Make sure you bring a couple of bags of scoops.

                                                                                                              I originally got it from my friend Betsy, don't know where it originated.

                                                                                                              The colors of the salad are a gorgeous presentation.

                                                                                                              ~ Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa ~

                                                                                                              1 pound package frozen niblet corn thawed
                                                                                                              3 Tblsp olive oil (canola or olive)
                                                                                                              1 Tblsp. salt
                                                                                                              3/4 Tsp cumin powder
                                                                                                              6 Tblsp fresh lime juice
                                                                                                              5 Tblsp oil
                                                                                                              2 Tblsp cider vinegar
                                                                                                              1 cup chopped cilantro (I hate to measure, so I use 1 bunch as sold in the grocer's)
                                                                                                              1/2 cup chopped red onion
                                                                                                              4 plum tomatoes chopped
                                                                                                              2 jalapeno peppers chopped
                                                                                                              1 red pepper chopped
                                                                                                              2 tsp minced garlic (from a jar is fine)
                                                                                                              2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
                                                                                                              4 large avacados chopped

                                                                                                              ~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss corn with 3 T. oil on baking sheet. Bake for 18- 22 minutes until golden brown stirring frequently.
                                                                                                              ~ Combine salt, cumin, lime juice, oil and vinegar. Shake well in a jar.
                                                                                                              ~ In a large bowl, combine rest of chopped ingredients. Add beans and
                                                                                                              corn. Add avocado, and dressing last and toss gently.

                                                                                                              ~ Refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Serve same day you make it.
                                                                                                              ~ Serves 20 easily!

                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                This sounds great and could be halved - or doubled - easily. Except for the avocado, I don't know why it couldn't be prepared ahead of time. Or perhaps hold out the corn also?

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  if the avocado is tossed first with citrus, it will hold a few hours.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                    Thank you, thank you, thank you. The dips and cheese dome are all great ideas. May is a great month for California avocados. I always make my own guac - the frozen/canned stuff is awful.

                                                                                                                    Fortunately I have a month to make a decision, but over time, I will try them all - I can't stop volunteering food :-)

                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    Hi C,

                                                                                                                    I make this salad all the time in the summer. It is hard to prepare too far ahead, because it does start to get mushy. But, if I am making it for my house, then I have made it one day and continued having it for a few days. Even a little mushy, this is a great side dish or app.

                                                                                                                    I think the person who wrote it, might have been inlcuding it as a beautiful feast on the eyes as well as the tastebuds. In a glass bowl, it's such a pretty salad.

                                                                                                                    And if you make it ahead, let me know how it turns out.

                                                                                                                    1. re: content

                                                                                                                      Like I said, I make it all the time. And I have left things out, when it's just for me.

                                                                                                                      I have made it without the jalepeno and it's great. If you are afraid that the jalepeno will make it too spicey, then by all means, leave it out. It still has a great flavor with the cumin, lime and cilantro, I believe.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                        I've done a much more basic version -- just drained canned corn, drained black beans, diced red pepper, diced red onion, and lots of cilantro. Dress with a good vinaigrette. The dish is happy to be made the night before, holds up nicely, doesn't get mushy, people love it. It is delicious served with scoopin corn chips, or just eaten with a fork. It's an old reliable!

                                                                                                                        1. re: rememberme

                                                                                                                          My basic verison is a can of drained corn, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, a tub of salsa (the kind from the refrigerator case) and lots and lots of chopped clinatro.

                                                                                                                  3. I did the dates wrapped with bacon thing for book club last week-stuffed the dates with manchego cheese. Fantastic and easy.

                                                                                                                    My favorite easy, "fancy" appetizer is the warm goat cheese toasts with walnuts, rosemary and honey from epicurious. I always sprinkle the walnuts on the toasts when baking the toasts, so that they toast then and you can skip the step.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: girlwonder88

                                                                                                                      I did some dates stuffed with pate' a while back and they were good.

                                                                                                                    2. I'm originally from St. Louis, and I often bring a local favorite to potlucks or to parties as a starter -- toasted ravioli. Find a good quality frozen meat and/or cheese ravioli, the plumper the better. Coat in an egg/milk bath and then dredge in seasoned breadcrumbs mixed liberally with grated parmesan. These are either deepfried or more commonly panfried in about a half-inch of vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve with toothpicks with a cup of warm tomato sauce for dipping. These are best fried on the spot, but they also hold up well in aluminum foil and then placed in a hot oven or toaster oven to reheat -- they retain just enough oil to crisp up nicely. (Don't microwave if avoidable, it toughens them too much.)

                                                                                                                      1. What about vichyssoise (?sp)? I don't believe you mentioned how many guests there will be. You could buy the really small Chinese soup bowls and not have to have spoons. I've done hot soups like this a number of times and it was a hit. It's nice to have something that is simple to eat/drink.

                                                                                                                        1. Thanks so much, everyone! I literally printed out all the threads to study them. What AMAZING ideas and recipes. I have about a years worth of things to try. The hosts STILL haven't gotten their menu together and so I'm not going to worry about food clashing. I'm going to try to narrow down my search and decide on ONE...but it's HARD!!!

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: wcgirl

                                                                                                                            Check out this thread of JungMann's from a few months ago. Talk about wow factor!


                                                                                                                          2. I just got back from Chiang Mai, where I had the simplest and most delicious appie that I have ever eaten! We were are Ginger Kafe and ordered the Prawn Eggrolls. A huge prawn, peeled except for the tail, wrapped in an eggroll wrapper and deep fried, served with a shot glass of chili sauce.

                                                                                                                            We went back the next day and ordered them again.

                                                                                                                            37 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                              Since it's a dinner party, maybe we could assume 6 or 8 people? That wouldn't be a pain to cook there, would it? Sounds fabulous. Again,, one of the less is more things; probably why it appeals to me. And definitely a wow factor!

                                                                                                                              1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                I'm thinking about fixing this tomorrow night for a little dinner party. Was it easy enough to bite through the wrapper and the shrimp without pulling the whole shrimp out?

                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                  It was not at all hard to bite through them. Here is a picture I took,so you can see the presentation. There was a definite WOW factor and they were oh SO good!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                    Oh wow - haha. How hot was the chili sauce by US standards (we're brave!) Thanks so much for answering back.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      It was very like the spicy-sweet stuff you buy in the States, but damn hot. Everything in Thailand was damn hot, but oh so good!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                        Do you think my "lipid of choice" should be peanut oil? I'm going to make these tonight.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                      Looks like the chili sauce was the same stuff you can buy in a bottle in the grocery store's Asian section; is that right? (Spicy and very sweet.)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          No the reddy looking syrupy stuff that's a little bit gloopy and not really opaque.

                                                                                                                                          But you could probably also serve those with a nice spicy mayo made from mayonnaise and sambal...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                            Yes, I found that at the grocery. Just what I need is another condiment :)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                              What is the specific name of the sauce. All the choices overwhelm me. Thanks

                                                                                                                                    3. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      I've had very similar but baked with phyllo wrapped around shrimp.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                        With phyllo, was that still finger food or did you have to cut it? Phyllo's more fragile it seems than eggroll wrappers.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          Have you been able to buy Peanut oil? I haven't seen Peanut oil on the grocery shelf since the recall. Still waiting for it.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                            I hadn't thought of that. I haven't checked my pantry so I may have some. Thanks for the heads up.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              Was it all pulled off the shelf, HillJ? I have a bottle in my fridge I've used on occasion, but didn't realize that all peanut oil was part of the recall.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                Yes, LW it was part of the recall. And, this week sunflower seed oil is off the shelf.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                  I just found Planter peanut oil and my big grocery. I guess to be probably overly cautious, I'll check the lot #.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                    That's really strange - I cannot find anything at the FDA's website using "peanut oil" as the search. I'll have to check the brand name when I get home.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                      I just checked the Planters website and they've only recalled pistachio products.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                        I found it strange too. Then I asked my Asian grocer who said the peanut oil (and this was back some time ago) was also removed from the shelf as a safety precaution during the peanut recall. He still has not rec'd new peanut oil to sell. I couldn't find anything online to support this but none of the shops I frequent are carrying peanut oil. Anyone out there experiencing this?

                                                                                                                                                        As for the sunflower seed oil, that became unavail at my grocer as of last Thurs. No explanation given.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          Yup - I just got home and checked the Hain Peanut Oil both by brand name and UPC code - neither were showing as a recall. Phew. :-)

                                                                                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                  Still finger food, just use a few layers but cut to size to wrap around shrimp - looking like this one - she did feta and herbs, my step daughter just did this with asparagus spear, cheese and prochutto:

                                                                                                                                            2. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                              I fixed this last night and it was incredible and the easest thing in the world. I got the biggest shrimp available (12-15 ct). The wrappers were too long so I laid a shrimp on it and cut it off leaving the tail exposed. Just rolled it up in the wrapper sealing at long edge. Cooked in hot peanut oil, 3-4 minutes total, turning half way through. Drained and served. These were amazing. I'm going to do the smaller shrimp and wonton wrappers also. We had three each as an appetizer course and that really would have been enough for an entree. I'm also thinking about doing piece of shrimp in wontons as a finger food. lulubelle, thanks SO much for telling us about this. This will be one of my go-things! It can't be beat :)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                Oh I am SO glad that they turned out well and that you liked them! I am going to have to try making them at home sometime soon!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                  My totally favorite things to do are the ones that taste divine and are really easy. And adding the wow factor just puts it over the top. We're still talking about them. And so is our guest :)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                    I specialize in that, too. I can't think of anything I make that's difficult. That's the beauty of it, isn't it? :)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                Can you give me the name of the chili sauce. I am overwhelmed by the choices at the store and just want to know exactly what to get. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                                                                  What I bought (in a small town so sure there are better choices elsewhere) is Mae Ploy sweet chilli (sic) sauce. I didn't think it had any heat to speak of so next time I'll add some sambal. But it was plenty tasty and if you really don't like heat, then it would be perfect.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                                                                    You can also purchase sriracha, a Thai hot sauce, and mix it with some mayonnaise to make a spicy dip, if you want. Alternatively, the sriracha can be used in place of the sambal to spice up the sweet chilli sauce.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                                                                      I don't know what the brand is, but it's ubiquitous around here. It's sweet, shiny transparent, has a kick to it, and is usually called something like "Sweet Chili Sauce".

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                        I just fixed these for the THIRD time the other night! Served them as an entree with a big salad and bread. Bought smaller shrimp ($$$) and sometimes even put two in the wrapper. Since they were smaller the tail didn't stick out and I folded the sides in when I rolled them up. lb, this is SUCH a keeper and I'm SO happy you thought to pass this along. Have you fixed them yet yourself? You're gonna love 'em :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          I haven't made them yet. No parties, and probably not a good thing for a single girl to make and eat all in one sitting.

                                                                                                                                                          I will have to make them for the next party that I have.

                                                                                                                                                          I am glad that you like them so much though....it's great to have a go-to party food that impresses people.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                              You're going to love this! Our 85 y.o. friend (another single girl) loved these so much she fixed a few for her dinner last night. With some local asparagus as her side dish. Isn't that cool?

                                                                                                                                                        2. Whatever you do - esp if it will involve meat - be sure to check with the host about what is being served. You do not want to duplicate - like he is serving salmon and you bring a lovely smoked salmon app. Also make sure the appetizer fits the occasion. No pate with port infused figs to a ball game party. No guaca and chips to a formal sit down candle lit gathering. One lasty - make it easy to transport, minimal cooking/heating to serve, not too many moving parts and nothing so huge that people are not hungry for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                          Have fun, knock em dead!

                                                                                                                                                          1. Okay so I just talked to the host and they are planning on doing grilled chicken and grilled shrimp as their main. They live about 30 minutes from me and I need an app that is going to be ready when we get there-no oven, etc. I'm thinking about doing the salami crips or perhaps the mini potatoes with sour cream...?

                                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wcgirl

                                                                                                                                                              ooooh, another easy but wow factor woudl be a nice crab citrus salsa in those ready made phyllo cups (no oven, just fill cups). It was very refreshing and lite but nice flavors.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                I love those ready made cups too. Very easy and fun to use and you can stuff them with lots of different fillings

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                  I think that is a lovely idea. You could do some with citrus, some with papaya and mago salsa or chutney. Very nice start to a grill.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: wcgirl

                                                                                                                                                                  Nigella's sundried tomato/pesto terrine is excellent and tastes better when it's at room temperature (for half an hour or so). It's one of those dishes where the sum is much better than the parts.


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                    yum, I hadn't seen that with the provolone cheese, only soft cheeses - the cheese isn't too hard to easily spread??

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                      It's sliced and not spread. Perfect at room temperature when flavors have all melded.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: wcgirl

                                                                                                                                                                    Something to go with the rustic meal:

                                                                                                                                                                    - SW corn salsa (fresh corn, red peppers, jalapeno, onion, chili powder) served in zucchini cups (2" cuts that have been scooped out and par-boiled) topped with a smidgen of queso fresco and cilantro.
                                                                                                                                                                    - Upside down bruscetta - parm reg cups filled with a mixture of chopped tomatoes, basil, roasted garlic and bread dressed in olive oil.
                                                                                                                                                                    - Pate - rustic meat (not liver) and/or mushroom
                                                                                                                                                                    - Vegetable terrine - can look very elegant upended

                                                                                                                                                                  3. This is really easy and tastes so much better than the sum of its parts -- dried apricot with a smear of blue/cream cheese combo, and a toasted walnut stuck on top.

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pia

                                                                                                                                                                      Yum, Pia, sounds like the Apricot Coins I make, which are smeared with goat cheese, garnished with thyme leaves & candied walnut halves, and drizzled with honey.

                                                                                                                                                                      But I love the idea of bleu cheese, which I will eat on anything!!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pia

                                                                                                                                                                        That sounds really good, easy but good.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just thinking ... I do a simple pillsbury crescent roll can ... I know cheap but they can come in handy at times. spreaded with apricot jam, then some blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese, and them some toasted walnuts. Roll and bake. Spread with butter and honey before baking to make sure it gets good and brown.

                                                                                                                                                                        What do you think. Serve room temp.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'm not sure if this classifies as a real appetizer, but I've been enjoying this one and at my recent housewarming party, people couldn't get enough (but they're non-foodies)

                                                                                                                                                                        Heat equal parts of honey and truffle oil (maybe 1/3 c. each), pour over goat cheese log (room temperature). Serve with champagne grapes (or small regular ones if they're not in season) and a sliced baguette. Simple, but super good.

                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Leeshie45

                                                                                                                                                                          I love all those foods and flavors, esp. the cheese/honey combo. And the champagne grapes definitely have wow, don't they?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                            everyone always gushes over the cute little grapes. I swear I could eat a whole log of goat cheese on my own prepared this way.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Leeshie45

                                                                                                                                                                              I recently made jfood's goat cheese ravioli. The filling is goat cheese, Parmesan, mascarpone and chopped basil. I had some left over and served it with crackers one night. I could eat it off my finger, no problem.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Leeshie45

                                                                                                                                                                            Cheese, bread fruit ... Awesome combo. It sounds great and simple. I'd make it anytime.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Leeshie45

                                                                                                                                                                              This sounds delish and easy too, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Jackie R.'s Loaf

                                                                                                                                                                              Trim the crust off of two unsliced loaves of bread. Cut the two loaves of white sandwich bread (high quality stuff like Pepperidge Farm, Upside Down Bread, or bakery bread) into five layers. The two loaves is simply because you are going to put the loaves end-to-end to make one large loaf.

                                                                                                                                                                              Using softened butter, butter each loaf-long slice on both sides, except, of course, for the bottom and the top, which are only buttered on one side. The butter acts as water-proofing, so lay it on fairly thick.

                                                                                                                                                                              Spread fillings of your choice between the layers and stack them on top of each other as your proceed. For example, layer 1: ham salad; layer 2: cheddar cheese spread with pimentos and jalapenos; layer 3: egg salad; lawyer 4: tuna salad.

                                                                                                                                                                              Now you have a big, submarine-looking thing that doesn't seem too steady. Press down on the bread to make it more compact, but don't press so hard that the filling comes out of the loaf--at least, not more than a little!

                                                                                                                                                                              Spread softened cream cheese over the entire loaf. Decorate it with sliced sliced green pimento filled olives, or chopped nuts, or whatever you like. Refrigerated the whole concoction for 4 hours to give it structural integrity. (The cream cheese will stiffen up nicely and hold everything else in place.)

                                                                                                                                                                              Upon removal from the refirgerator, cut the sandwich loaf with a serrated bread knife, dipped in hot water, cleaning the sandwich filling off of the knife after each slice. Slice perpendicular to the board on which the sandwich loaf is sitting (duh!), cutting inch to inch and a half slices and you'll get a "pate-like" slice, which will lie on a plate, revealing the different colorful strata of fillings.

                                                                                                                                                                              You can control the amount of work this recipe is, depending on whether you get the fillings from your local deli or make them yourself. The only thing to remember is to put the denser fillings on the bottom to maintain the structural integrity of the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                that sounds spectacular for a holiday party, gfr!

                                                                                                                                                                                <yes, yes, i bumped the thread. i'd like to revive it. so sue me! ;-)).>

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Really well prepared shrimp cocktail is always loved because 1) most people love it and 2) it usually isn't very good. Good quality shrimp are key very gently cooked in crab boil and a ton of salt. + Homamde cocktail sauce with brandy and

                                                                                                                                                                                I also dearly love Suzanne Goin's Dates stuffed with parmasaen wrapped with bacon. Prep in advance and bake when you get there.

                                                                                                                                                                                But if you are coming to my house, make a whole duck liver tourchon and serve it with Zuni cafe picked prunes. =)

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                                                                                                                  judi, i love your ideas, except the one calling for a TON of salt AND crab boil for shrimp cocktail. neither is appropriate for shrimp cocktail. i would only use gulf shrimp.

                                                                                                                                                                                  shrimp are salty enough and delicate so those suggestions would kill the flavor of the shrimp. the cocktail sauce is where the stronger flavors belong, so the crab boil is superflous.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Had a good reception last week with this old classic: Stilton cheese with water crackers and toasted walnuts (with the required tawny port as a beverage).