Factors I consider when selecting the cocktail party menu:
- Can I make it ahead of time?
- Does it have to stay hot or cold on the buffet, or served at room temperature?
- Is it easily recognizable or do I need to label the food?
- Will it contain rare and/or expensive ingredients?
- Will it look messy or gross on a serving platter?
- Is it messy to eat?
- Will I have to serve it with utensils, or can guests pick it up with their hands?
- Does it help complete the look and feel of the party theme/occasion?
Savory Parmesan Shortbread Rounds. I love how delicate they look, but imagine your surprise when the unmistakable Parmesan flavors show through in these savory bites. Epicurious suggest serving these along side a nice salumi platter. The best thing about this recipe is that the rounds can be made 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 month.
Crab and Celery Remoulade looks great served with pita chips. It can be made up to 6 hours ahead and covered and chilled. I would imagine this needs to also be kept chilled somehow on the buffet so it doesn't go bad.
Pork Pies on Epicurious because the filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled and then brought to room temperature before using. The pies can be assembled and baked 6 hours ahead and cooled, uncovered. Items served at room temperature are IDEAL for a cocktail party.
Bloody Mary Soup Shots with Shrimp and Pickled Vegetables. The pickled veggies can be bought in a pre-prepared jar, which is awesome. The savory soup contains tomato, Worcestershire and vodka and is served in shot glasses for fun. On a chilly evening, I think that a warm tomato soup shot might go over better, but I love this idea and may hold on to it for a brunch menu.
The Italian Dish blog. I love the color and the presentation. I bet they taste great and pair well with wine. These can also be made ahead of time and chilled under service.
Now for some HWM appetizers that are on my tried and true list for cocktail parties!
Bacon Wrapped Dates are one of those appetizers that you pop in your mouth and while you are chewing you are trying to figure out how to scoop another one up on your plate. They are the perfect salty and sweet combination. I stuffed these with cream cheese because a certain someone that I married doesn't care for blue cheese. For a cocktail party, I would highly suggest the blue cheese filling and also leave out the nut in the middle.
Foie Gras Stuffed Dates which are super easy to prepare and complete heaven to eat. They are perfect make-ahead-food.
Goat Cheese and Onion Tart is on the list because they are a great vegetarian appetizer and although the tart I made was a large three to four inches in diameter, I think these could be made on a smaller scale. Oh so addicting!
Proscuitto and Fontina Pinwheels which can be made ahead of time and baked a batch at a time. They are wonderful hot out of the oven, but equally good when they come to room temperature. These go fast, so I would recommend a double or triple batch.
Now I turn to you for suggestions on the best party food this holiday season. If you have a tried and true recipe, please send it my way! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. Your recipe just may end up on my holiday buffet this year.