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CHEAP housewarming party nibbles...

My husband and I have moved into a new flat. We are having a combined housewarming and belated 30th bday party for me. We are pretty poor but we want to serve impressive and delicious nibbles. We've told people to come from 8pm. I've been thinking of the following:

-Gougeres (I love these)
-Summer rolls (my husband and I make them pretty often, so the only problem is making them just before people come)
-korean pancakes: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
- hummus with veg
- We can get very good and cheap Turkish bread, olives and feta in our neighborhood.
- I have some nice spanish ham in the fridge I've been saving for this.
- Potato chips (the one thing the UK really excels at


Any more ideas?

We are inviting about 40 people, but hopefully they won't all show up... there isn't enough room!

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  1. I had to chuckle at your last sentence. We had a holiday "open house" many years ago in San Francisco. We thought people understood that the term means drop in, have a little food drink, visit and LEAVE. Oh no. Everybody showed up at the beginning and stayed the entire time. Our little house was a mob scene.

    I think your menu sounds terrific. Since it's after dinner, that should be plenty of food. If you wanted a little more, you could always cook some kind of roast (pork, ham, beef) slice it up and put it with some small slices of bread. But it sounds great as is and quite special. Happy birthday.

    1. If you like roquefort cheese: buy some Belgian endive, which is expensive but you don't need a lot--maybe one or at most two would do. Cut the root part off the bottom, separate the leaves and put a dollop of softened roquefort on the bottom part of the leaf. The endive stays crisp for a long time, you can arrange a plate like a big flower with the leaves radiating out, and people just pick up a leaf and pop it in their mouths. Easy, not too expensive and kind of chic. I also like to get those little pickled, sweet red peppers in the deli section, fill them with softened goat cheese, and serve. Very good.

      1. Aren't you going to have a sweet for your birthday? If you can still find strawberries, chocolate dip them. Or if it's apple and pear season, wedges of either or both, on a skewer, dipped in melted caramel, let set up a bit, then dipped again in chocolate. Or just plain chocolate. The end dipped in chopped toasted nuts perhaps.

        1. Everything sounds really yummy! You don't need anything else but if you do want a few more ideas these are a few inexpensive apps I like:

          Nigella Lawson's Zucchini Fritters

          Gourmet Magazine's Asian Cucumber Ribbon Salad

          Tuscan Kale Chips

          Cooking Light's Citrus-Marinated Mushrooms

          Roasted Asparagus and Red Onion Quesadillas

          Mark Bittman's Korean Crisp Vegetable Pancake

          Won Ton Wrapped Chicken With Apricot Dipping Sauce -can be made with canned salmon

          And for gougères, David Lebovitz has a great recipe. I love them too!

          3 Replies
          1. re: toveggiegirl

            Those kale chips sound amazing - do you have an idea of how far ahead they can be prepared?

            1. re: vcavett

              You can definitely make them ahead of time and keep in an airtight container. If they get a little soft, rewarm them the oven for a few minutes. Also, it's a really good recipe for improvisation (using various herbs & spices, some grated parmesan, sesame oil for an Asian flavour, infused oils...). Enjoy!

            2. re: toveggiegirl

              I had a (slight) obsession with those kale chips last year. My husband said I would turn green since I ate so many!

            3. Wrap slices of that Spanish ham around whole water chestnuts and pierce with a toothpick.

              1. I think it sounds great too.

                Your gougeres and spanish ham reminds me of an appetizer from Judy Rodgers book. She slits gougeres and puts some bacon, greens and pickled onions in them.

                Maybe more fussy than you want to get but your ham would be really good in something like that. Or just on its own.


                1. Sounds like an international affair....

                  You might also consider making some sort of bean salad to go with the chips... that's a little hearty with protein in case people are hungrier.

                  Fruit is also always a big hit, as are marinated grilled veggies.

                  mini-quesadillas are cheap and easy to make, as well as good easy-to-pop finger foods.

                  and though i hate to suggest the use of a convenience product, mini-crescent rolls filled in different ways are usually a hit... i've done a combo of pesto, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan/mozzarella/ricotta or mushrooms with walnut pesto and parsley or a dessert one with raspberry and brie or chocolate banana and nuts...

                  1. There is always that good old American standby, devilled eggs. Cheap and usually the first thing to go. You can gussy them up with a ribbon of smoked salmon if you want to get fancy, or just sprinkle with good paprika or pimenton.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GretchenS

                      I would, but I pay 1.90 quid for 6 medium eggs from my farmer's market. Pricey, I know, but I have never had a better egg in my life. These might be excellent for dinner tonight, though!

                    2. I have an annual holiday open house that always features a huge bowl of Chex Mix--I fill my salad bowl. I first started making and serving this years ago when I was on a super tight budget, and now my friends refuse to come unless I guarantee that it will be there. In fact, this is now known as the "Chex Mix Party." Sounds like you live in the UK, not sure if you can get Chex cereal there but you could assemble sometime similiar (crispy and salty) with any one of a number of breakfast cereals.

                      1. I am having one on Sunday. Menu is:


                        Korean sesame noodles
                        Corn and butternut squash casserole
                        carrot slaw w/pineapple, cucumber, chicken, and herbs
                        Austrian Jam squares
                        Choc chip cookies
                        Drinks: by guests

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: torty

                          I'm interested in the corn/squash dish. Details, please. ;)

                        2. Sounds yummy to me! Be sure to hold some of each dish in reserve for folks who show up later-- I've learned this by experience. A few other ideas, just for fun:
                          -foie gras pate with tart berry jam on toast points (expensive, but the pate could stretch pretty far)-- kind of an upscale pbj
                          -radishes with salt and sweet butter for dipping (unexpectedly delicious and pretty as well)
                          -if you did want a sweet, french bread or brioche rounds toasted with a little square of good chocolate and a few flakes of fleur de sel on top
                          - I also love to make the Union Square bar nuts recipe-- I have it from Nigella but it might be available online. If you're having drinks, some little salty thing like that which can be placed in little bowls around the apartment is always nice

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Procrastibaker

                            I have been making those Union Square nuts for years & they are always a big hit.

                          2. make caramels. it is a easy treat that is equally cheap. this one is very good... though, i have trouble keeping mine from sticking into one big clump...


                            1. Something I make at Christmastime - just put them in a few dishes around the flat.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Hey, LW. I just saved that one. Love the orange with the cayenne. Thanks.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  You are quite welcome, c oliver. Super-easy in the microwave. I can bang out several batches of those nuts while doing other holiday baking.