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What's Cooking?: Holiday Small Bites

phyllo appetizer

The much anticipated winter holidays are upon us as many of us look forward to the festivities with family and friends.  Since food is a large part of the celebration, there are carefully planned menus for Christmas Day with main entrees getting starred prominence.  However, I enjoy the beginning “act” that leads to the main venue of roast prime rib, brown sugar crusted ham or fragrant golden roast chicken.  What excites me is the hors d’oeurves being served.  I just love these little bites of savory morsels.  Popping these delightful bites into my mouth enhances the casual atmosphere of mingling and catching up with others. These small bites whet the appetite to what is to come. 

What I enjoy most about hors d’oeuvres is the variety of taste experiences they offer.  It allows me to taste a morsel without overeating or wasting it if I don’t enjoy it.  Setting and preparing can be as simple or complex as you wish.  For no cooking involved, purchase wedges of a variety of cheeses beautifully arranged with colorful fruit of red and green bunches of grapes or sliced apples along with an assortment of crackers.  Don’t forget to add pretty bowls of choice olives around the table.  A tray of crostini topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and tomato slices accented with brilliant green basil leaves will add to the holiday colors.  How simple is that and there is no fuss at all!

There are so many ideas for finger food that it is not easy to choose.  Hot hors d’oeuvres can require more work and assembling.  A tip is to look for recipes that allow you to make it ahead so it can be reheated.  I often make spinach cheese squares that are baked and freeze well.  Small bites in phyllo sheets and wonton wrappers are also good choices.  The use of bacon to wrap is always a winner, even the rumaki (chicken livers wrapped around with bacon) tastes great.  Bacon wrapped around scallops is elegant and sophisticated but easy to put together.  Crostini, toasted bread with endless assortment of toppings, provide a little canvas for your creativity.  Mushrooms are popular bites that can be filled with a simple bread and cheese stuffing or notch it up by stuffing it with braised short ribs.  If you have a cocktail party, hors d’oeurves can be a meal in itself.  In our house, I’m thinking about sushi rolls, mini spring rolls, gougeres and every kid’s favorite, pigs in a blanket!  Whatever you prepare or purchase, be sure to spend a wonderful time with your guests and celebrate.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Party Receipts from the Charleston Junior League: Hors d'oeuvres, Savories, Sweets by Linda Conway

Better on Toast: Happiness on a Slice of Bread by Jill Donenfeld

The World in Bite Size: Tapas, Mezze, and Other Tasty Morsels by Paul Gayler

Perfect Party Food Made Simple by Bridget Jones

Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining by Francois Payard

Pillsbury Appetizers: Small Bites Packed with Big Flavors from America’s Most Trusted Kitchens

Martha Stewart’s Hors d’oeuvres Handbook by Martha Stewart

Hors d’oeuvres by Eric Treuille and Victoria Blashford-Snell

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