Holiday appetizer tips
Appetizers and finger foods are a mainstay of holiday entertaining, but the challenge is to come up with new ideas. Lucy Waverman's approach is to stick with what she knows but add a twist. We asked her for a few appetizer updates.
Banish boring basics. Forget pumpernickel as a base for smoked salmon. Serve the holiday standard on a potato rosti, a minipancake or a cucumber slice. Cream cheese doesn't need a cracker when mixed with garlic and chopped chives and piped into a hollowed-out cherry tomato. And hummus can go beyond the basic bowl and flat bread; try it spooned into Belgian endive spears or on store-bought sesame crisps instead.
Cheese please. For drop-in guests, stock up on the favourite seasonal snack -- cheese. Besides selecting some you haven't tried before, add a few new accompaniments to the platter: truffle honey, a good-quality balsamic vinegar like Minus 8 Wine Vinegar (a Niagara-region product made from icewine) and fig jam make for trendy toppers. Instead of grapes and water crackers, include dried apples, homemade croutes and spiced nuts.
Seasonal style. Frozen nibblies are a lifesaver but need not be the same time after time. Style them straight from the oven with a few garnishes. Miniquiches go from bland to grand with chopped arugula and a drizzle of olive oil. And spring rolls are high-end when partnered with a soy dipping sauce spiked with chiles and chopped scallions.
Fridge and pantry partners. Have these basics on hand and you can whip up a last-minute party platter in no time: roasted red peppers, anchovies, bread sticks, pesto, olive oil, prosciutto, olives and tapenade.
Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.