Throw a Holiday Appetizer Party

These are the bright, crunchy, savory, seasonal bites your friends will love. Our make-ahead strategies make it totally doable.

Small Bite Soirée

Photo: Justin Walker

Small Bite Soirée

When it's that turkey or brisket time of year—a time of important ritual cooking—the way a cook can cut loose and entertain purely for the sake of entertaining is to throw a warm, seasonal app-and-cocktail party. A deft mix of savory bites and brilliant drinks leads to pure conviviality, real joie de vivre. The care taken with homemade food and drink makes all the difference. These appetizers will delight.

Melted Manchego Tortas with Romesco and Chorizo

Photo: Justin Walker

Melted Manchego Tortas with Romesco and Chorizo

Spanish flatbreads, or tortas, are a tapas staple. Make these with thin sandwich round halves and a 1 1/4-inch circular cutter. You'll only use 1/4 cup of the romesco, but the remainder makes a great sauce for meats, vegetables, or fish.

View Recipe: Melted Manchego Tortas with Romesco and Chorizo

Savory Crisps with Bacon and Rosemary

Photo: Justin Walker

Savory Crisps with Bacon and Rosemary

Keeping the bacon very cold makes it much easier to cut for these simple, yet flavorful, bites.

View Recipe: Savory Crisps with Bacon and Rosemary

Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo: Justin Walker

Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms

Brown the mushrooms and make the pesto ahead of time, and ­refrigerate. To serve, bring to room temperature, and fill caps.

View Recipe: Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms

Crisp Persimmon with Ricotta, Honey, Pecans, and Mint

Photo: Justin Walker

Crisp Persimmon with Ricotta, Honey, Pecans, and Mint

Unlike soft, plum tomato-shaped Hachiya persimmons, squat, round Fuyu persimmons are crisp with an earthy sweetness. Top with a creamy-sweet combo of ricotta, honey, pecans, and sliced mint for an easy hors-d'oeuvre.

View Recipe: Crisp Persimmon with Ricotta, Honey, Pecans, and Mint

Polenta Toasts with Balsamic Onions, Roasted Peppers, Feta, and Thyme

Photo: Justin Walker

Polenta Toasts with Balsamic Onions, Roasted Peppers, Feta, and Thyme

The polenta and onions may be prepared a few days in advance.

View Recipe: Polenta Toasts with Balsamic Onions, Roasted Peppers, Feta, and Thyme

Smoked Salmon Salad in Cucumber Cups

Photo: Justin Walker

Smoked Salmon Salad in Cucumber Cups

Substitute gravlax or even flaked canned salmon if you prefer salmon that has not been smoked. Wasabi mayonnaise is available in the condiment section of most supermarkets. Or make your own by blending 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon wasabi paste, or more wasabi to taste.

View Recipe: Smoked Salmon Salad in Cucumber Cups

Smoked Trout, Arugula, and Granny Smith Stacks

Photo: Justin Walker

Smoked Trout, Arugula, and Granny Smith Stacks

Using crisp apple as the "base" for smoked trout makes for a healthy bite with lots of crunchy and interesting, contrasting flavors.

View Recipe: Smoked Trout, Arugula, and Granny Smith Stacks

Meatballs in Brussels Sprout Cups

Photo: Justin Walker

Meatballs in Brussels Sprout Cups

Friends will love the ingenuity of these appetizers—little meatballs cradled in Brussels sprout cups, cleverly seasonal.

View Recipe: Meatballs in Brussels Sprout Cups

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