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Suggestions for what to serve with Drinks before Dinner

So...I have some "usual" things I serve with drinks before dinner...not all at the same time but these are my "go to" items...I don't like to serve too much to spoil appetites before a dinner I've prepared...would love some new suggestions

My usual things
- Good olives
- Nuts
- Cheese and crackers (old cheddar, brie (or other soft cheese), blue
- Shrimp and seafood sauce
- Crudites and dip(s)

Thanks Hounds...

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  1. My go to favourite thing to serve with drinks are gougeres. I make lots of different kinds, gruyere, blue cheese and pistachio, cheddar and olive. I freeze them uncooked then cook them just when guests arrive.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DowntownJosie

      I'll second that. Cheese straws is another idea. Roll out puff pastry, use cheddar and parm grated, over the sheet. Cut into 1/2" strips. Twist the strips not too tight, then fold each strip in half enclosing the cheese and twist again (loosely) again. Bake according the package directions then cool and serve.

      I use Dufour puff pastry. If Pepperidge Farm is all you can get that is the way it is. Dufour is all butter puff pastry

      1. re: Candy

        I love cheese straws ...they are always a hit! I make mine from the dough but the puff pastry ones are delish too!

    2. I got the suggestion from hotoynoodle to go light on the apps as they're supposed to whet the appetite not quench it. At that point, I ditched cheese, meats, shrimp. I now go with olives and nuts. Sometimes I make one with Spanish tuna (it's only about a 3oz. can) with capers, red onion, good oo and cilantro. S&P, more oo if needed and occasionally a splash of sherry vinegar.

      3 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        thanks for the shout-out.

        if just nibbles with drinks before having dinner, than it really should just be nibbles. :) crunchy/salty to whet the appetite.

        spiced nuts
        olives (i have served fried olives which are delicious but a complete pita)
        home-made potato chips
        shrimp chips (also home-fried)

        are all go-tos for me.

        a lot of these other suggestions feel more like a dinner course, which is fine too, i guess, but i really dislike anything cheesy before i eat. it utterly dulls the palate.

        if folks are coming over just for drinks and snacks than i put out more substantial items, like variations of these french cakes:


        deviled eggs are another big favorite for me. recently made deviled tea eggs finished with sesame oil and tobiko and they got hoovered, lol. fish pate and chicken liver mousse are quick, easy and well-liked.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          THAT just got saved!

          I appreciate your pointing out way back when the mistake (and I do think it is) I had been making forever of putting out too much heavy food, esp. cheese(s). Now folks get some nibbles and drinks while I'm putting the finish on dinner.

          1. re: c oliver

            thanks! it's funny because people come over and of course they are really hungry, so many will have a tendency to eat LOTS of hors d'oeuvres and just be too stuffed to really enjoy the meal.

            as a host it doesn't make much sense.

      2. Hi!

        Two suggestion comes to mind:

        1. Take a date and remove pit
        2. Fill with blue cheese
        3. Top off with chorizo
        4. Put in over for 10 mins or broil to taste

        Also: figs and bacon!


        Edit: thought of 2 new things:

        Always liked the concept of BLT Cherry Tomatoes (never actually did it but its on my list!

        Arancinis are great appetizers and a great way to recycle Risoto!

        5 Replies
        1. re: CaptCrunch

          But to me that's awfully heavy unless each person just gets one or two.

          1. re: c oliver

            Its actually not that bad since its finger food... its pretty small only there to open the appetite not to fill you up. The date/blue/chorizo combination is really sex on a plate.

            1. re: c oliver

              i've done chicken satay with boneless skinless strips of chicken, marinated with a peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger/garlic flavored sauce, threaded onto kebab sticks (soaked so they don't burn. grill or easier, because you can get a bunch on at a time, use your george foreman' these work at any temp: hot, warm,room temp; have a good dinner!

              1. re: betsydiver

                That sounds like a great MAIN course to me :) With some rice and stir-fried vegs, ya got a meal!

            2. re: CaptCrunch

              those dates with cheese sound wonderful, and at one or two, would totally whet the appetite. going to remember those.

            3. Thanks hounds...keep 'em coming...

              1. I make chard wrapped sausages occasionally.

                Saute shallots in reduced beef stock and butter
                Cut stems out of chard, so you get 2 pieces for each leaf
                Lay out chard leaves
                Spread on the shallot and beef sauce mixture (it shouldn't
                be too liquidy)
                Wrap up the sausages in chard (a few layers of leaves) and put in baking dish.
                Pour 1 tbsp of beef stock in pan per sausage
                Wrap very tightly with aluminum foil (you want them to cook by steam)
                Bake until done
                Cut into bite size pieces (cross sections) and fry them on both flat sides to get a little crust

                Super easy, simple, and pretty much everyone will like them. I just made them up one day when I was cleaning out the fridge.

                1. I stole this roasted olives idea from ChristinaMason last year and it is delicious. Preheat the oven to 375F for about 10-15 min. Roast mixed olives with lemon and orange peel, fennel seeds, fresh rosemary, garlic, and hot pepper flake and serve up in a mini cast iron skillet. Per CM’s instruction – “They really only need to heat through and get a little bit of texture on them---don't turn them into raisins :)”

                  Tuna crostini with a recipe very similar to this, but sans the capers and olives. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                  I also do a cannellini bean spread/dip served with bread and veggie sticks. Let me know if you want the recipe and I’ll see if I can find it.

                  1. I think the apps served should mesh with the dinner to follow.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: pedalfaster

                      I don't necessarily go along with that but I wouldn't do shrimp if I were doing fish. Or a cheese app when doing raclette :)

                      Oops, forgot to post this Batali/Babbo chickpea bruschetta. And it's vegan.


                      1. re: c oliver

                        Those sound great. I see a dinner of appies and cocktails in my near future.

                        1. re: EM23

                          We had lunch at Babbo a few months ago and they served these as an amuse. REALLY tasty. And a bit different.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            All three? The first two caught my interest, but I'm not a mackerel fan so #3 is out for me.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I wonder how that would work *without* the black olive paste?

                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                  I used a TJs one but I think there's a lot of room for subs.

                    2. Your usuals are all my favorites. Consider:


                      1. Stuffed mushrooms - filling based on whatever the main dish is so it complements, not echoes or conflicts with dinner.
                        Bruschetta/crostini - small, light, crispy - innumerable variations.
                        Spiced Nuts (didn't know if you were only doing plain nuts)
                        Cheese straws - you get the taste without the heaviness of cheese.

                        1. Kind of retro ... salmon mousse!

                          I love crostini of all kind. My favorite is chicken or duck liver pate with chanterelles. But not everyone likes liver. You could also do a bruschetta type topping now that tomatoes are coming into season. Warm goat cheese and tapenade is great. I'm sure there are recipes for awesome white bean spreads for crostini too.

                          I think gougeres is a great idea too!

                          1. Crudite and dip doesn't have to be lame...

                            This carrot harrisa hummus packs a punch- use tahini, its not the same with almond butter

                            Serve with veggies like sticks of jicama, zuchinni, purple carrots, cherry tomatoes on skewars....

                            I had a dish of crispy salty spiced chickpeas at a bar the other night that were addictive.

                            Spiced savory popcorn with or without some nuts mixed in

                            "Cheat" and use puff pastry to bake little squares and then top those with what you like for a few varieties

                            I can't seem to find it now, but i recently saw an app where they took a grape, then shoved it into a small pc of mild goat cheese, rolled into a ball the size of a marble, and then in crushed pistachios or sliced almonds.

                            A retro-y relish tray with quick pickled veggies, pickles, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers etc.

                            1. One ingredient - Prosciutto. Oven Dried into chips; nothing else needed..make alot cause people will not be able to stop at one. You can also do the same with thinly sliced salami. Salty. Crispy. Goodness....

                              1. Thanks Hounds for all your great suggestions...going to mull and decide what new items I'll give a try...

                                Appreciate the input....

                                1. I never serve more than 3 snacks before dinner...otherwise folks will fill up. My faves are:

                                  Spiced nuts (love the Union Square Cafe bar nuts). See: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

                                  Lavash flatbreads...see: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10...
                                  You can make these ahead and throw onto a pizza stone for 10-15 minutes and they are ready. If you do these, probably will not want anything else. They are delicious, can be made vegetarian or with meat...and they are very light and healthy!

                                  Brie or Camembert with some Craisens. Delicious on TJ's raisin rosemary crisps.

                                  Keep it simple, and not too much!