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Get Appy!

Try these light, delicious appetizers for your holiday party.


Paige Hermreck

The holiday cocktail hour at Grandma’s typically drifted to 7 p.m. Her Triscuit pizzas vanished by 5:30, the Brie was gone by 6, and the mixed nuts by 6:30. But we never ran out of Goldfish: Grandma must have had a closetful. As for the turkey dinner, nobody really cared.

The period between your guests’ arrival and the main meal—whether for a holiday feast or dinner with friends—is crucial. You want to offer more than a beverage, but you don’t want to weigh them down with a pound of cheese and a pint of dip.

That’s why hors d’oeuvres are making a comeback. Portions are controlled. Each bite is luxurious. And when they’re gone ... it’s time for dinner. Unless you’re having crab for Christmas, seafood is an ideal palate pleaser. And if you have a cute child who can do the passing, it’s hard to resist. But it’s also nice to have a plate or two laid out for guests. Just don’t overdo it.

We’ve come up with a few recipes that are fancy enough for Champagne (no need to wait until New Year’s Eve).


New Potatoes With Caviar

Serves 8 to 12
12 small, round, and evenly sized new potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1 ounce American sturgeon or
osetra caviar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes in half. With a small melon baller or the tip of a small spoon, make a ½-teaspoon sized crater in the middle of the rounded side of each potato half. Toss potatoes in a bowl with the oil and salt. Lay potatoes flat-side down in an ovenproof short-sided saucepan or skillet big enough to hold the potatoes without touching. Add the chicken stock. Cook in oven for 20 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Let cool to room temperature. Assembly: Place about ½ teaspoon sour cream in each potato. (The sour cream should just rise out of the hole.) Put a small line of caviar across the sour cream, using one full ounce for all 24 potato halves. Place on a serving platter in refrigerator until ready to use. (It can be plated two hours ahead.)

Crab With Cucumber And Avocado

Serves 8 to 12
2 ripe avocados
Juice from one lime
Salt to taste
1 English cucumber
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded (optional)
4 ounces fresh Dungeness crab meat

Mash avocado with a fork till smooth, adding lime juice and salt to taste. (This can be done several hours ahead; just top mashed avocado with a little extra lime juice, and press plastic wrap directly on surface.) Peel 4 or 5 strips from cucumber from top to bottom, leaving space in between each peel so that it is striped green and white. Cut cucumber into 24 rounds no more than ½-inch thick and refrigerate. If using red pepper, lay it down flat and trim into an even rectangle. Cut 24 strips roughly 2 inches long and refrigerate. Assembly: Place cucumber rounds on a serving platter and put a dollop (about 2 teaspoons) of avocado in the center of each. If using red pepper, loop each strip into a ring in the center of the avocado. Place 1 teaspoon or more of crabmeat in center of red pepper, letting the crab stick straight up out of the avocado, and serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to half an hour.


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