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Prepare ahead, cold, cheap finger food.


Chufi
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Hi guys, for an ofice party (there will about 20 people attending) I'm looking for ideas for cold appetizers/ finger food that can be prepared ahead (the night before), taste good when served cold, and won't break the bank. I'm thinking various dips like hummus and a red pepper/walnut spread with bread, but could use some ideas to make it all a little more interesting... any thoughts?

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The fig and olive tapenade on David Lebovitz's website is fantastic.

Also, think about sausage rolls. Great when hot, but still really good when served at room temperature. Just use puff pastry and fill with sausage meat (or really, with whatever you want). Spanakopita is also something that's still good at room temperature.

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Along the hummous lines, there's a white bean dip that was made popular here in RI at Al Forno: cook white beans in salted water with rosemary, a few garlic cloves and peppercorns, and olive oil; process the beans and garlic with a bit of the water and more fresh olive oil. It's really tasty and you can adjust to your desires with herbs and seasonings.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Mix cream cheese with chopped scallions, or caramelized onions and seasonings. Spread on deli ham slices and roll up. Cut in 1/3's and serve with a toothpick. Have used cream cheese and apricot jam, as well, but this needs horseradish for zip or it will be too sweet.

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Cut chicken breasts into tikka-size pieces, coat with a wash of mustard with egg or cream (heavy on the mustard), then seasoned-and-herbed breadcrumbs. Deep fry about two and a half minutes starting at 180C. They won't stay crisp, but with the mustard & herbs always prove very popular. Embarassingly I've being doing these for more than twenty years - the original recipe is Delia Smith's.

I admire your filled puff pastry squares, Chufi, where you cut a strip around the edges, leaving two corners intact, and fold the two loose corners to the opposite ones, and fill like vol-au-vents. Haven't tried them yet: neither have I forgotten. Will you be making some of them ?

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Mix cream cheese with chopped scallions, or caramelized onions and seasonings. Spread on deli ham slices and roll up. Cut in 1/3's and serve with a toothpick. Have used cream cheese and apricot jam, as well, but this needs horseradish for zip or it will be too sweet.

This is good if you put a chive in the middle of the roll

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Bourbon chicken liver pate, from the Epicurious website (old Gourmet recipe). Put it in a pretty crock on a plate, surround with crostini.

A platter of crostini arranged around a trio of dishes -- one with ricotta or chevre, one with fig and olive tapenade,one with a tomato, garlic and basil topping marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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thanks guys, great ideas so far. Yes, sausage rolls, that fig tapenade looks good, I like the idea of something rolled in ham (all of a sudden I´m thinking home made celeri remoulade!) and a white bean dip will be an interesting change from hummus.

and:

I admire your filled puff pastry squares, Chufi, where you cut a strip around the edges, leaving two corners intact, and fold the two loose corners to the opposite ones, and fill like vol-au-vents. Haven't tried them yet: neither have I forgotten. Will you be making some of them ?

Dear Blether, thank you for reminding why I love, and always will love, eGullet. I had forgotten about those puff pastry squares.

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israli salad is great on crackers and bread and it is simple and much better the next day.

Onion, cukes, peppers (red, green, yellow) celery, tomato, small dice are my foundation. I add to it what ever i also have (e.g., corn scallion). I also add herbs (fresh or dry works), S&P (liberal amounts), great olive oil, and acid of some type (lemon, lime venegar). Let it sit for a few hours, over night in fridge is better.

Great make ahead healthy party dish.

Soup

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What about grissini or crisp italian style flatbreads, olives, marinated grilled veggies (peppers, eggplant, etc) semi-dried tomatoes and some italian-style sliced meats? And maybe a baked ricotta or some other cheeses? That bean dip/spread would go well with this too.

You can do all bar the meats & cheese from scratch to keep costs down, and everything can be laid out on platters well in advance. Plus you can skew in favour of vegetables and spreads to minimise costs as well.

But those crostini ideas sound fantastic too.

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Couple of things I like to make - a mushroom pate, mushroom turnovers, lentil and black olive dip (a Wolfert favorite of mine), and a white bean dip that I had in a posh cafe in Southcoast Plaza in SoCal that I reverse engineered. I've PM'd recipes to you.

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Two words: deviled eggs

Also, various picnic-type salads: carrot salad, cucumber salad, potato salad, pasta salad, curry chicken salad

Cold sliced cheap braising cut of beef with horseradish sauce

Non-raw-fish sushi rolls (cucumber, avocado, etc.)

Tortilla chips and salsa

Crostini topped with any of a million things

Tea sandwiches, such as cucumber

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I like little caprese skewers:

On a small skewer place a basil leaf, a cherry tomato and a cube of fresh mozzarella. They stand upright if you put the cheese on the skewer last. Drizzle the plate with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I will sometimes grill strips of flank steak and then cut the strips into cubes and put them on picks. Served cold with a horseradish cream dip it really isn't that expensive and it makes the guys who are afraid of hummus happy.

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If you're making hummus, try baba ganoush. It basically has the same ingredients as hummus so you can easily make it at the same time but it has a totally different flavour profile. Put an eggplant (or a few) over a gas flame and turn until well charred and cooked. Put in a plastic bag until cool and rub skin off. Mash up cooked and charred eggplant with minced garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt, cumin.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Also, if you can find a way to serve soup, why not try a gazpacho?

Make some home-made pate and spread it on bread slices.

If you can heat things, why not make empanadas? Even if you can't, they can taste fine cold (simply increase seasonings).

Perhaps some cold smoked salmon blinis with creme fraiche?

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Also, if you can find a way to serve soup, why not try a gazpacho?

I often take gazpacho to picnics, potlucks, etc. It's easy, if you're not serving too many people. Take your chilled gazpacho in a large thermos, and then take some paper or plastic cups and spoons to serve it in.

Also, Chufi, I don't know if you have access to canned green chiles where you are, but there is a cheese and chile and egg dish that is very popular in the US southwest that would be perfect. It has the added advantage of being something that your friends/colleagues are probably completely unfamiliar with.

It's called "Chile Relleno Squares." You combine eggs, cheese, green chiles (and canned work just as well as fresh) and flour or Bisquick. You bake it, and then allow it to cool a bit and cut into squares. You can either serve it hot, with forks, as a side dish or vegetarian main, or you can serve it cold as finger food.

If you google "Chile Relleno Squares," you will find a lot of recipes. But here's a typical one:

Chile Relleno Squares

3 C shredded Jack cheese

1 1/2 C shredded mild cheddar

2 4-oz cans green chiles, chopped (I buy whole chiles and chop them myself)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 Tbs whole milk or cream

1 T Bisquick or all-purpose flour

Combine the cheeses. Place half into a greased 8" baking pan. Spread chopped chiles over. Then cover with rest of cheese. Combine beaten eggs with flour and cream and pour over all.

Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes, or until dish is "set" and browning on top.

Allow to cool at least slightly. Cut into squares. Can serve either warm or cold.

______________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I don't doubt Chufi has plenty of fellow-travelers on this thread as December approaches. Spreads sound ideal for my needs - an office knees-up that I can only attend for 20 minutes, needing to bring something vegetarian that will withstand a 90 minute Tokyo commute!I do like Japanese toothpicks as mini-skewers - tidy to eat and easy to carry.

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I don't doubt Chufi has plenty of fellow-travelers on this thread as December approaches. Spreads sound ideal for my needs - an office knees-up that I can only attend for 20 minutes, needing to bring something vegetarian that will withstand a 90 minute Tokyo commute!I do like Japanese toothpicks as mini-skewers - tidy to eat and easy to carry.

Yes, easy to carry is another thing.. my food for 20 has to be transported on a bike.. :laugh:

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Will you have the ability to do last-minute assembly when you plate? For the aforementioned mozzarella skewers, for example, you can transport mozzarella, small tomatoes, basil leaves and toothpicks separately and assemble on the spot. Same with deviled eggs: if you bring the filling in a pastry bag you can pipe it into egg halves for service (sprinkle with paprika). Etc.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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a log of goat cheese with pomegranate seeds sprinkled over it and drizzled with good flavorful honey and served with very thin ginger cookies - like Anna's Ginger Thins. Knocks their socks off every time - tart, sweet, salty, and spicy all at once and can be assembled on the spot.

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The bike transport qualifier certainly adds a challenge. An item that transports easily is thinly sliced salami or similar charcuterie - fold each slice in half and then half again and secure with a toothpick (push toothpick in, out, and in again- like sewing to minimize sliding off). Can be tossed in a bag and scattered attractively on a platter. Also can be unrefrigerated for some time.

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So, here's what I decided on:

white bean/rosemary/garlic dip,

celeri-remoulade.

Pita chips, bread and carrot/celery sticks to go with that.

potato/red pepper tortilla

little puff pastry shells (thanks Blether) with mushroom ragout

at the last minute I was asked to add something substantial, so I´m making a pasta salad with roasted butternut squash, red onions, sage and goats cheese.

I´m also making a couple of huge logs of these:speculaas because this is our annual Sinterklaas party.

I´m not 100 % happy with the choice of food, but I had to do all of the shopping today (for 20 people) for 50 euros, including the expensive almonds for the pastries. There was no way I could afford decent black olives for the olive/fig tapenade or walnuts for muhammara, or charcuterie which I would have loved to add.. Anyway, sometimes such limitations are interesting and we´ll see how the food turns out!

Edited by Chufi (log)
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