Tag Archives: holiday appetizer

Holiday Appetizers: hors d’oeuvres and finger foods, yum!

roasted grapes

Tips for making your holiday appetizers truly appealing.

Planning a holiday party? Start with all the ones you’ve seen – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Why remember the bad and the ugly? Because, we don’t want to do that!

The best ones, I’m sure you’ll agree, are actually the most memorable. These are the ones where everything came together – from start to finish.

The ideal way to start ANY party (holiday, birthday, anniversary, anything!) is for guests to be greeted at the door with a cocktail and a tray of hors-d’oeuvres and finger foods.

It’s also important to have additional finger food out for your holiday parties so guests can snack at their leisure.  Do easy appetizers that don’t need to stay hot and taste great either warm or cold. That way it won’t matter when your guests arrive or how long the food is out (but definitely do not leave it out overnight).

Remember – you don’t always have to serve a seated dinner for your events. Some of the best holiday parties are appetizers only! No surprise, but a finger-food party is easy on guests as well as the host. Appetizers are prepared before guests arrive, they’re easier to eat, you don’t need forks and knives, and you definitely don’t need tables! In fact, when parties are all about the appetizers and finger foods, everybody is portable! That means you and your guests can walk around talking to each other.

Let me give you a couple of finger food ideas:

People love my fresh ricotta with roasted grapes on crostini. I’ve been serving these at my parties forever. They’re so easy and quick to prepare it’s crazy – the best appetizer recipes always are.  Use this recipe from one of my favorite websites – Alexandra’s Kitchen. To make the roasted grapes really sing, it’s important to have fresh ricotta. I follow the incredibly easy recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa.  You can use store bought fresh ricotta but when it’s this easy to make – why?

My other “can’t miss” party finger food is prosciutto wrapped asparagus. This is so easy that just about anyone with minimal kitchen skills can manage. Make sure you blanch the asparagus tips first – here’s a video I did for the easy way to blanch your veggies. Then you wrap the asparagus tips in prosciutto and quickly grill. This is one dish that definitely does not need to stay hot. The crispy prosciutto tastes great and is much easier to eat than when the prosciutto is not grilled.  They are so popular with my friends that I always make a lot – I don’t want to run out!

And, that’s the way to have a fun party!

My Favorite Holiday Appetizer

proscciutto wrapped asperagus - horizontal

Finger Food Idea – prosciutto wrapped asparagus – it’s EASY

Everyone has a favorite holiday appetizer: finger foods for the Christmas office party, New Year’s party, or any other gathering. After twenty years in the restaurant business, I’ve collected all sorts of great and easy holiday food ideas – from hors-d’oeuvre to main courses.

This one is an easy finger food idea. A very dear friend of mine can’t boil eggs without step-by-step instructions. She saw me cooking this recipe and said, “Fran! Even I can cook this one!” It’s really that simple.

Finger Food: Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

  1. This is the ‘hard’ part: pick your asparagus carefully. Make sure that you buy asparagus spears that have tight heads. What I mean is that all of the little buds should be tight and very close to the stalk.
  2. Wash your asparagus in cold water and break off the “woody” lower end of the stem. Make it even easier so that you don’t have to guess, bend each asparagus spear until they snap in two. That’s the natural point where the soft edible part begins.
  3. For appearance, after you’ve snapped them cut all spears about the same length.
  4. Blanch your stalks to bring out that appetizing bright green color. Just drop them briefly (about 15-20 seconds) into boiling water. Take them out right when the color brightens. Immediately immerse them in ice water to stop them from cooking.
  5. Wrap each spear with enough prosciutto to completely go around the stalk. You want to leave both ends of the asparagus spear exposed.
  6. Preheat your grilling pan. Add a little olive oil – just wipe some on for flavor. No puddles of oil.
  7. Grill the prosciutto-spears, turning as needed, just until they start to brown.
  8. Remember that the prosciutto is already cooked, so you don’t have to make these really crispy but they will crisp a bit. This will be about 3-4 minutes. Make sure that you roll them in the grill pan so they color evenly.

Serve this alongside another insanely easy appetizer like slender morsels of mozzarella cheese wrapped with fresh basil leaves. YUM.

And as always, have fun!