Weekend Special – Holiday Cocktail Party

Will you be bringing friends and family together this holiday season for a cocktail party? Not sure what you want to serve … but know you don’t want a mish-mash of this-and-that. Why not pull it all together with a bit of Mediterranean flare?

Start with a strategically placed antipasto platter or two. Whether I’m
passing the hors d’oeurves or setting everything on a buffet table, I like to have a couple of big, beautiful platters.

A traditional antipasto platter with prosciutto, sausage, a few wonderful cheeses and some great breads and crackers is always a winner. For color and a little sweetness, add some green grapes and dried apricots as well as some toasted  walnuts for crunch. Bite-sized grilled or roasted vegetables would also make a nice addition. For a lighter platter, serve raw vegetables with small bowls of Sundried Tomato or Lemon-Basil Aioli and Tapenade.

You might also like to set out a few spreads for people to help themselves. Staying in and around the Mediterranean, Caponata, Peperonata and Feta with Walnuts are all good choices. Serve them with flatbread crackers or toasted pita wedges. In addition, I always scatter bowls of Roasted Almonds and Spicy Olives around for a quick nibble.

For a nice touch, set small plates and forks by the platters to make it easier for your guests. Unless you really want to, there is no need to go out and buy a bunch of special hors d’oeurvre plates. I certainly don’t have room for another stack of plates in my cupboards. Instead, I use the saucers that came with my tea and espresso cups.

On to the Finger Food, including some of my favorite crostinis. In case you are wondering (and who isn’t), as far as I can figure the only difference between bruschetta and crostini is the bread. Bruschetta uses thick, grilled slices of wonderful country breads. Crostini is made with oven-toasted, thin slices of still-wonderful baguette. While bruschetta is often topped with a chopped tomato salad, the sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings for both. Following the one-or-two bite rule for appetizers, crostini are the better choice for a cocktail party. Some of my favorite crostini toppings include thinly sliced Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola and caramelized onions, Goat Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes and Olives and Roasted Mushrooms. Then again, you can’t go wrong with a good pâté, homemade or from your favorite specialty store.

Maybe it’s expected, maybe not but let’s face most, if not all, cocktail parties serve shrimp with a spicy or not-so-spicy red sauce. Why not add a twist to this perennial favorite! Try my Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp or my Mediterranean Shrimp.

Soup, yes soup, is one of my favorite cocktail party dishes. Your favorite pureed soup will work beautifully. When in doubt, Zuppa di Zucca is a great choice. (And yes, it is my old standby Roasted Butternut Squash Soup!) If you usually make it very thick, thin the soup a bit with a little extra stock. Serve the soup in espresso cups and then pass through the crowd with a teapot for seconds.

As the party winds down, end the evening on a sweet note with tiny Sweet Dream BarsTriple Threat Brownies or mini Gingerbread Cupcakes.

And finally, a quick reminder … depending on the size of your guest list, serve five or six and as many as ten dishes and, depending on your guests’ appetite, plan  two to three pieces per person.

Bon appétit and have a great party!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are you serving at your holiday party? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

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