Delicious party-food ideas for when you can't spend all day in the kitchen.
Shrimp skewers Toss cooked shrimp and cucumber slices in a dash of soy sauce (try the white version), rice vinegar, and a drop or two of sesame oil. Thread cucumber slice, pickled ginger, and shrimp onto skewer.
Skewered polenta Cube packaged polenta. Pan-grill polenta with olive oil and fresh or dried rosemary or sage for a few minutes until browned. Fold Italian salami and thread onto skewers with polenta.
Cheese-stuffed apricots Blend equal parts blue cheese and butter until smooth. Pipe or spoon into small dried apricots. Top with chopped nuts or a pecan half.
Quick mixed platter Arrange marinated fresh mozzarella, pickled asparagus wrapped in salami, and lupine beans (drained).
Artichoke, mushroom, and pepper kabobs Steam or sauté bite-size mushrooms (or cut larger ones into halves or quarters) and marinate with artichoke quarters or halves and roasted peppers in good, nonsweet vinaigrette. Thread onto skewers and serve on a bed of olives with more skewers, picks, or small forks alongside. When serving olives, be sure to provide small dishes for pits.
Crab-stuffed veggies Combine crab with mayonnaise and sour cream, fresh tarragon, salt, and pepper to taste. Trim and hollow out vegetables. Fill with crab salad ad garnish with fresh tarragon.
The trick is to make good hors d'oeuvres without having to stand at the counter for hours manipulating bits of food into looking their party-best. Skewers are one answer, since they make simple foods look elegant. Prepared foods are another time-saver. Cooked shrimp, pasteurized crab (look for it in the supermarket seafood section), and beautiful baby vegetables are your best friends. Marinate the shrimp in an Asian marinade, as described on previous page. Not ready by party time? Serve ingredients with the skewers alongside and let guests assemble their own. Be sure to provide a receptacle for discarded skewers and picks.
The smaller the veggies, the longer they take to stuff. Buying food, slicing, and arranging it all eats up minutes, which can turn into hours. (Save time by enlisting the help of children, who often enjoy assembling small, tasty foods.) Plastic bags with seals work well for marinating and transporting foods, and when you snip a corner off, they can be used to pipe spreads.