Eileen gives tips on Thanksgiving appetizers and decorations.
Appetizers are a type of food that have an appeal that's all their own. With Hanukkah just around the corner and family and friends (some invited some not) stopping by to help celebrate it's nice to have a repertoire of tasty hors d'oeuvre or canapés to serve before the main course or buffet is ready. Since everyone knows that there is a direct line from the eyes to the stomach it's important that the appetizers look as good as they taste. All it takes is a little touch of imagination, a few helpful tips and some great recipes to become the hostess (or host) with the table everyone wants to be seated at.
Use Unique Containers and Servers
Some of the best and most beautiful containers come from the produce and bakery sections of your grocery. Hollowed out cabbages and squash make perfect bowls for dips and spreads or use them to hold vegetable crudités. A melon or pineapple is the consummate container for a creamy sweet dip. Lemon and orange cups also make attractive small containers for sweet or savory dips and spreads. Whole bread loaves in different sizes and shapes that have been hollowed out can be filled with warm dips that you bake in the oven or cold dips and spreads for chips and crackers. You can also use the hollowed out bread loaves as containers for breadsticks or slices of bread.
Other great containers included baskets, decorative trays and platters, fancy cutting boards, unique bowls in different shapes, sizes and colors. Variety in serving pieces and platters is good so mixing and matching patterns and bowls makes for an interesting table If you have foods that will need toothpicks or some sort of skewer, try using sprigs of rosemary, sugar cane spears or bamboo picks.
Garnish is Great.
Garnishes can make or break the platter. Profuse garnishes that swallow up the food they're meant to enhance are a big no-no! The flavor of a garnish needs to complement the food that it is decorating. In other words, don't garnish a sweet fruit dip with tomato roses or put strawberries on the platter with the egg rolls. As to what to use as a garnish, try a variety of fresh herbs like thyme, chives, flowers and the universal garnish, parsley, will add beautiful and edible touches to your appetizer. When it comes to spices, a sprinkle of paprika, curry powder or cinnamon is sure dress up items stuffed eggs, dips and spreads. Other items that make wonderful garnishes are citrus zest, sprinklings of cumin, caraway or black sesame seeds and curls of Parmesan cheese, Sweet appetizers look lovely with a dusting of confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder or tiny fruits like raspberries or fresh currants. Just remember to keep all the garnishes simple and if possible, unusual. Oftentimes a single leaf of an herb is all you'll need to make your taste treat look outstanding.
Presentation is Important
Keep it simple. Only place one or two different kinds of appetizers on each serving tray. Having a jumble of different appetizers on one tray can be confusing and make it difficult to choose. Keep the table clean and the trays well stocked. Don't make appetizers too large; they should be able to be eaten in one or two bites.
Decide ahead of time whether or not you will be passing trays of appetizers around or whether you will keep them all on a stationary surface. If passing appetizers, be sure to choose trays that aren't too large and heavy. Avoid serving only fussy intricate little appetizers. Throw in some dips, spreads or pates. Not only will this cut down on the work for you it will also help to bring all the dishes you are serving to the forefront. As for arrangement and presentation look for inspiration in books, magazines. Keep in mind the colors of the food you're serving. A table full of monochromatic foods will be boring