An elegant cocktail party calls for hors d’oeuvres your guests can pick up, pop in their mouths and swallow. Daintily. No sticky chicken wings that stain the mouth and fingers. No cherry tomatoes to bite into and squirt juice down the chin. No shrimp with shells on the tail that need to be disposed of when no one is looking.
Appropriate cocktail-party hors d’oeuvres should never detract from your guests’ conversation, or their ability to hold a drink or shake a hand. Cocktail fare should be petite, delicate and easy to maneuver — no oozing, dripping or flaking allowed. The following selection not only fills the bill, it also offers plenty of variety to guarantee success at your next party.
Bread rounds spread with a topping, such as Crostini with Goat Cheese and Red and Yellow Tomatoes, are always a safe bet. The Italian crostini refers to thinly sliced toasts, or "little crusts." Look for the narrowest baguette available and slice into thin rounds. Don’t cut diagonally or the slices will be large and difficult to eat. Consider other toppings, such as thinly sliced meats, cheeses, vegetables, pesto and fresh herbs.
Another practical alternative, Endive Leaves with Gorgonzola, look pretty when arranged spoke-style on a platter.
Blini Cups with Caviar are a luxurious version of Russian pancakes. Instead of being cooked on a griddle, the batter is baked in miniature muffin cups, then swirled with sour cream and caviar.
Make Mushroom Sausage Strudel by rolling up packaged crescent rolls spread with a savory filling. Experiment with various types of sausage, such as turkey, chicken or Cajun.
Toss ginger, cilantro, hot chili paste and coconut milk with crabmeat and mound into Mini Thai Crab Cakes. For a pretty presentation, garnish the platter with lime slices and sea shells or crab claws.
The simplest recipe, Flaky Parmesan Pesto Pinwheels, is made by stirring packaged pesto with cream cheese and Parmesan, spreading it on frozen puff pastry, then rolling, slicing and baking.