Over labor day weekend, we decided to invite a few friends over for some drinks and appetizers before heading to watch Waterfire in Providence, RI. We decided we didn’t want to do a full dinner, but preferred finger foods instead. I scoured the internet for ideas…not just on what to make, but what sort of variations are needed to make a balanced spread. This was NOT easy. No where did I find a well-described method on how to create a set of appetizers for a party. I thought we could have a theme, that’s easy (Mexican, Asian). But I wanted to do something different. Here is a list of items we made, and a photo to get your taste buds watering….
Let’s start in the lower left corner. Chips (mixed colors) for dipping in some sort of salsa, maybe a smoked pepper, but not the normal grocery store kind.
Guacamole: You can get this package ready to go from Trader Joe’s. Follow the package directions and you will LOVE it. Make sure you add the whole lime, it makes a difference and avoids discoloration. I added one avocado for a total of 3 and it seemed to be great for 11 people.
Dates stuffed with goat cheese/pistachio spread. I sliced and pitted the dates and mixed goat cheese and crushed pistachios to stuff the dates. A nice mix of sweet and savory.
Caprese salad. Easy to make. Sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, layered. I mix sugar with balsamic vinegar, simmer until the mixture sticks to your spoon, let it cool a bit, drizzle over your salad.
(For those that care, this is an Arte Italica serving piece. Click here to check it out. It’s Gorg! I want to collect them all).
Salmon Appetizer. I toasted a whole baguette of french bread to make the salmon app. Spread goat cheese on the toasted sliced bread, layer with a small piece of smoked salmon, place capers on top, drizzle with honey, YES HONEY. SO GOOD. Unexpected and amazing. LOVE.
Cucumber Appetizer. I found this awesome white bean and basil hummus at Trader Joe’s. I used the zip lock bag method to pipe it onto slices of unpeeled cucumbers. I added one pistachio on top of each. Cute, easy, healthy.
I cannot forget the marvelous flatbread PIZZAS my husband made from scratch. We had cheese/curry, spinach/sweet basil chicken sausage/red pepper, and two more kinds (I can’t keep track). These were all made with wheat flour and fresh ingredients. He even made the tomato sauce. These were fun for the crowd because every time a pizza came out of the oven, everyone wondered what kind it was. I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of them!
We had meatballs and gravy for those that craved a little more protein. I placed this in a two sided dish for easy dipping. I didn’t want this to be a focal piece of the table since the pizza and salads were the stars.
Cake. We decided to use Trader Joe’s Vanilla White cake to make this. My husband added some tahini paste, walnuts and bit of goat milk to it. We topped the cake with cream cheese frosting (made of lite cream cheese, 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract), layered with sliced strawberries and covered with our new Bon Appetite cake cover for added pizazz.
Other items we added were pickles, black and green pitted olives, and a few chutneys to provide more toppings and sides for the crackers and cheese (with grapes), and bread slices.
We served a yummy red sangria as well, which I highly suggest. Having a drink of the night is nice because you end up spending less time making drinks and more time socializing. Make it early, make a lot, and sit back and relax. The recipe we used was from my dear friend Ida, and it’s a secret. You’ll have to ask her for it!
Overall, the best way to create a spread is to have a main course, two salads, some finger apps, and desert. A mix of sweet and savory adds to the flavor profiles. Using similar ingredients overall (such as pistachios in the date spread and pistachios on top of the cucumbers) adds to the ease and consistency of creation and flavor. The table will look great if you have coordinating serving pieces. They don’t have to match, in fact, ours don’t. But they GO together. I tried to create some symmetry with the plating and used color pops with the food, because we eat with our eyes before our mouths.
We ended the night with more visual pleasure at Waterfire…