Sunday, January 22, 2012

Party Food.

All of those years of watching my mother prep for parties, lingering over the details, with platters and trays arranged ever so slightly, her beloved folders of clippings from home magazines with table displays and themes for just about any occasion.

Appetizers, canapes, hors d'oeuvres, crudites. There is nothing more I love about a cocktail party than preparing and arranging those little bites. 

These are the days of hummus, which is no stranger to my countertop, but if I have the time, I want to do it right. I want to think that mom and grandma are counting on me to serve a proper spread. Even if it has evolved beyond fancy crackers and cheese and things with toothpicks to reflect a modern vegan influence.

Don't fret, there are still toothpicks.

Teriyaki Tempeh Rollups, Sriracha Mayo, Veggies, Toothpicks!

Here are my tips for party eats that impress:

Big flavor. Since you only get a bite or two to make a statement, make a big one. Spice it up (even people who are sensitive to heat will be okay with just a bite or two of something particularly fierce). Just enough to wake them up, without being overwhelming.

Components. It's all about the details, so flavor-packed slaws, zingy sauces, and crunchy garnishes are what make an appetizer special. You can prep these ahead of time for quick assembly before guests arrive.

Go fresh. While it may take more time to knock out your own mini flax tortillas from scratch (see below), the flavor will justify the work and your guests will appreciate that you sweat a little for them. Not to mention how fun they are to make and how freakishly cute they are. Same thing with spreads. It's fine to serve hummus but make it yourself and make it special. Why pay $5.99 for hummus when your recipe is better? Kimberly Snyder's Zucchini Hummus is a refreshing change. And that homemade BBQ sauce? People will talk about it for years.

Recognizing when shortcuts are okay. There are a few exceptions. If I have time to make my own dehydrated crackers or macaroons for dessert, then fine, but these things can take several hours, so buy them if you must. I like Hail Merry's or Greenwood Kitchen's macaroons for a crowd-pleasing cookie platter. Greenwood Kitchen also makes tasty raw crackers. For tempeh, sometimes only Rhapsody (which is pre-cooked and delicious) will do, and everyone knows that Vegenaise is an incredible sauce base (mix it with Sriracha for a spicy mayo or Dijon mustard for a mustard sauce). I also like tahini mixed with miso and orange juice for a nice dipping sauce.

Finger-friendly. This is a no-brainer, but obviously you want to keep things small and chop things accordingly. This means that you should get a little crazy slicing your veggies because nobody wants giant hunks of carrot in their wrap that get in the way of conversation.

And As Always, Please Don't Serve Food in a Martini Glass. Really. Don't be that person.

BBQ Tofu Tacos, Tex Mex Slaw, Homemade Flax Tortillas

Smoked Mushroom Crostini, White Bean Puree, Sauerkraut, Mustard Cream
(inspired by Vedge's Happy Hour Menu)


ms. veganorama said...

Looks fantastic?

A and J said...

Would you share your recipe for the BBQ Tofu Tacos-- tortillas and all? They sound amazing (love the addition of the slaw!).

Anonymous said...

Where can I find the mini flax tortilla recipe?

Courtney Spelling said...

Wow. That made me really hungry! I love throwing parties and I just move in here in New York. I can't wait to try nyc catering services. Let's see what they have to offer.

Fregard Mosform said...
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