1. PURPOSE OF APPETIZERS. Appetizers are foods served before the main course of the meal, and, as the term "appetizers" suggests, are intended to stimulate the appetite. They should, therefore, be made attractive in appearance and tempting in flavor. Appetizers may be served before formal or informal meals and may be made from a variety of food combinations; it is not in good taste, however, to use food items that are to be served with the main meal nor to combine too many foods in one appetizer.
2. TYPES OF APPETIZERS. Appetizers can be classified into three groups-cocktails, canapes, and hors d'oeuvres.
a. Cocktails. Cocktails usually consist of vegetable, fruit, or seafood mixtures or fruit or vegetable juices.
b. Canapes. Canapes are bite-size bits of savory food spread on an edible base and attractively garnished or decorated. A variety of bread cutouts, crackers, or biscuits may be used as a base.
c. Hors d'oeuvres. Hors d'oeuvres are nippy, high-flavored mixtures of various foods designed to eat from the fingers or from cocktail picks (or toothpicks).
3. FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN PLANNING APPETIZERS. The types of appetizers to be prepared should be governed by the occasion, time and place, and decorations or theme.
a. Occasion. It should be known whether the party is a stag affair, a party for both men and women, a cocktail party, or a dinner party. For a 1-hour cocktail party about five different canapes or hors d'oeuvres should be planned; for a 2hour cocktail party, about eight different kinds. For a dinner party. where a full meal is to be served, three different canapes or hors d'oeuvres should be sufficient.
b. Time and place. The time of day, the season of the year, and the place--whether indoors or outdoors--should also be considered, and the appetizers should be planned accordingly.
c. Decorations or theme. The theme or decorations should be carried out, where possible, in the appetizers or in the garnishes used for the appetizers.
4. PREPARING AND SERVING COCKTAILS. The most commonly served cocktails are made of fruits, vegetables, or seafood. Any combination of fruits or vegetables that provides contrast in color, flavor, and texture may be used. It is desirable to have the flavor more tart than sweet. If sweet juices are used, lemon juice or some other appropriate pungent ingredient should be added. Bland vegetables should be marinated in a tart dressing. Seafood is usually served with a sauce made of some type of salad dressing or chili sauce base seasoned with horseradish, chili powder, or other seasoning. Cocktails, when used as appetizers, should be thoroughly chilled and served at the table before the main meal.
5. PREPARING CANAPES. It is impossible to list all of the foods and food combinations that may be used in making attractive and tasty canapes. A few of the foods and methods of preparing both hot and cold canapes are given below. For good appearance, canapes must be handled carefully during preparation.
a. Cold canapes. Some suggestions for preparing cold canapes are as follows:
(1) Canapes should be prepared as near serving time as possible. Sharp cutting utensils must be used to assure even shapes. If ingredients are prepared ahead of time, they should be placed in the refrigerator until it is time to assemble them.
(2) The base (bread cutouts, crackers, or biscuits) should be as near bite-size as possible. Most kinds of bread can be used, but the slices should be one-fourth inch thick and the crusts should be removed. Bread cutouts can be made into various shapes, such as squares, rounds, stars, hearts, oblongs, crescents, or triangles. The base should be spread with a thin film of flavored butter ((3) below) to prevent the canape from becoming soggy.
(3) Various flavored canape butters can be prepared by beating different ingredients into creamed butter. An example of ingredients that are used include grated cheese, chili sauce, finely minced chives and lemon juice, horseradish, mustard, lime or orange gratings with lime or orange juice, sardine paste, or other items that would be appropriate for the kind of canape to be made.
(4) Some of the more common canape spreads are made of meat, fish, cheese, or fruit. Examples of meat spreads are chicken liver, chicken salad, deviled ham, liverwurst, and pate de fois gras. Fish spreads that may be used include anchovy, caviar, tuna, lobster, shrimp, and smoked fish. Cheese spreads can be made by mixing creamed or Roquefort cheese with minced onions, chili sauce, chives, caviar, or other appropriate items. Avocados, oranges, and other fruits are used in making fruit spreads. Caviar and pate de fois gras are considered luxury spreads, and cheese and inexpensive seafoods are considered the simpler ones. To make caviar spread, blend 3 ounces of black caviar with 1 teaspoon each of lime juice and onion juice.
(5) "Fillings" for canapes need not be made into spreads ((4) above); for example anchovy canapes can be made by simply arranging layers of drained anchovy fillets on lightly buttered bases ((2) above), placing thin strips of pimento on the anchovy fillets, and garnishing with a slice of cocktail onion. Other popular cold canapes can be made in a similar way by combining appropriate food items with smoked salmon, caviar bits, chicken liver, sardines and olives, or lobster meat.
(6) Assembling the canapes should be done on the principle of assembly line operation, but it is best to work on only one kind of canape at a time. After finishing one kind, remove leftovers and clean the table and utensils before starting on the next. The crackers or bread cutouts should be placed on a flat tray, all spread with butter, and then all covered with the spread or "filling." The work should be done quickly and neatly to avoid an overhandled or overworked look.
(7) Garnishing is the final step in making the canapes. Garnishes should be dainty, colorful, and in harmony with the spread or "filling." There should be a variety of garnishes and some of them should be in their natural form; tiny leaflets of parsley or watercress should not be cut. Some other items that are used for canape garnishes are pimento, red or green sweet peppers, paper-thin slices of carrots, hard-cooked egg whites, and egg yolks. Garnishes on any one kind of canapes should not be varied. The garnishes should be carefully placed and allowed to remain; moving them about spoils the neat, fresh appearance. The canapes should be placed in the refrigerator after they are garnished.
b. Hot canapes. Some suggestions for preparing hot canapes are given below.
(1) Hot canapes are prepared from the same basic ingredients as cold canapes, but they are more expensive and require more time to prepare. Perfect timing is essential.
(2) Some examples of hot canapes are angels on horseback ((a) below); broiled stuffed mushrooms; creamed oyster; and broiled lobster, crab, or tuna canapes ((b) below). Many of these hot canapes are prepared from cooked items placed on rounds of buttered toast and heated under a broiler or baked in an oven.
(a) Angels on horseback are made by wrapping drained, raw oysters or cooked chicken livers with precooked thin strips of bacon, placing them on small rounds of buttered toast, and baking at about 400° F. for 3 minutes or long enough for the bacon to crisp. The bacon is secured with toothpicks while in the oven.
(b) The rounds of buttered toast used for lobster, crab, or tuna canapes may be spread with anchovy paste before the broiled seafood is added; the seafood may then be sprinkled with dry bread crumbs and dots of butter before the canapes are placed under a broiler.
6. PREPARING HORS D'OEUVRES. Hors d'oeuvres may be served hot or cold, but they should always be fresh, small, and dainty. Basically they are made from the same food items that are used for canapes, but they are not served on a base; they can be eaten with whatever breads or crackers that are offered. Hors d'oeuvres provide an excellent means of using leftovers, but their strong flavors and delicate appearance connote luxury. As in preparing canapes, as much of the work as possible should be done in advance and the prepared ingredients stored in the refrigerator in covered containers. Some suggestions for preparing both cold and hot hors d'oeuvres are given below.
a. Cold hors d'oeuvres. Some examples of cold hors d'oeuvres are ham rolls ((1) below), fish balls, deviled shrimp, cheese carrots, skewered tidbits ((2) below), deviled eggs, and stuffed celery sticks.
(1) Ham rolls are made by spreading thin slices of boiled ham with a mixture of cream cheese, salt, and pepper; placing stuffed olives or a strip of dill pickle on each slice; rolling the slices and chilling them for 1 or 2 hours; and then cutting the rolls into 1/2-inch pieces and securing each piece with a toothpick.
(2) Some ideas for skewered tidbits are small cocktail onions with pieces of cocktail sausages and gherkins; squares of cheese with pickle slices and stuffed olives or small cocktail onions; lightly flavored shrimp and pieces of celery; cream cheese balls sprinkled with paprika or mixed with chopped olives and pieces of anchovy; pieces of ham and water-melon pickle. These foods should be placed on toothpicks or cocktail picks and served as indicated in paragraph 7.
b. Hot hors d'oeuvres. Hot hors d'oeuvres are usually broiled, baked, or fried in deep fat and served fresh from the broiler, oven, frier, or a chafing dish. Some examples of hot hors d'oeuvres are tiny meat balls, tiny broiled sausages, marinated broiled shrimp, fried shrimp balls, broiled stuffed mushrooms, fish balls ((1) below), baked franks and bacon ((2) below), and tidbits broiled in bacon or ham ((3) below).
(1) Fish balls can be made by mixing cooked flaked fish, boiled mashed potatoes, egg, cream, and grated onion together and rolling into small balls. The balls can either be dipped into flour and sauteed in butter until brown, or they can be dipped in milk, rolled in flour, and fried in deep fat.
(2) Baked franks and bacon hors d'oeuvres are made by cutting frankfurters into 1-inch sections, rolling the sections in mustard, wrapping each section in a thin strip of bacon and securing the bacon with a toothpick, and baking in a shallow pan in a 4250 oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
(3) Examples of other food items that may be wrapped in thin strips of bacon or ham, secured with toothpicks, and broiled until the meat is crisp are pineapple chunks, cooked prunes stuffed with olives, watermelon pickles, dates stuffed with pineapple, grapefruit sections, large stuffed olives, smoked oysters, raw scallops or oysters, cooked shrimp, and sauteed chicken livers.
7. SERVING CANAPES AND HORS D'OEUVRES. Cold canapes or hors d'oeuvres, or both, are usually served as appetizers at cocktail parties and at buffet parties. At cocktail parties cold canapes are usually passed, but at buffets they may be placed on the buffet table with hors d'oeuvres. Hot canapes or hors d'oeuvres are usually served at elaborate functions where, as a rule, a meal is not served. Some suggestions for serving canapes and hors d'oeuvres are given below.
a. Hors d'oeuvres and canapes may be served together in a special ,dish divided into compartments or on a large platter or tray. Those of the same type should be placed together to avoid a spotty appearance. The items should not be heaped or crowded on the serving trays.
b. Trays should be arranged so that the darker colored items are on the outside. Also, colors should harmonize and shapes should be balanced to give a pleasing effect.
c. Cold items should be served right out of the refrigerator or on platters set on cracked ice.
d. Cheeses should be served at a temperature around 700.
e. If hors d'oeuvres or canapes are meant to be hot, they should be served fresh from the oven, broiler, or frier; or if they are the type that will hold, they may be served from a chafing dish.
f. Trays should be taken to the kitchen and replenished when they are about two-thirds depleted.
8. CENTERPIECES TO BE USED WITH CANAPES AND HORS D'OEUVRES. A centerpiece, whether it is an elaborate ice carving or a head of cabbage, always adds a festive appearance. As is true with foods used in preparing canapes and hors d'oeuvres, there are so many items for use as centerpieces that it is impossible to discuss them all. A few items frequently used are given below.
a. A grapefruit can be cut in half, placed on a platter or tray (cut side down), studded with hors d'oeuvres on toothpicks, and surrounded with garnishes or canapes.
b. Apples, oranges, or other similar fruits can be used as in a above by cutting a slice off the top or bottom to form a base.
c. A pineapple can also be used as a centerpiece by leaving the top on and cutting the pineapple vertically down the center. The halves can be placed on a platter, cut sides down, and studded with hors d'oeuvres, and surrounded with garnishes or canapes. The green tops can be decorated with cherries, cubes of cheese, ham, pickles, olives, or other food items.
d. The half of a melon, with a slice cut from the bottom to form a base, can be used as a container for certain hors d'oeuvres. The filled melon can be surrounded with garnishes or canapes.
e. Regular cabbage or red cabbage can be used as a centerpiece for hors d'oeuvres such as stuffed beets, shrimp, or artichokes. The outer leaves should be curled back carefully and the center hollowed out to hold a container for dip.
f. An unsliced loaf of bread can be shaped into an attractive centerpiece, browned in the oven or in deep fat, and studded with hors d'oeuvres on toothpicks.
g. Some examples of garnishes that can be used around center-pieces are radish roses; celery or carrot curls; fresh apples cut into cubes, balls, or rings and rolled in paprika or finely chopped parsley; pickles slivered or cut into "fans"; strips or rings of green peppers; orange or lemon rings or wedges; flavored gelatins, either cubed or riced and placed in orange or lemon shells; and glazed or broiled bananas.
Was this article helpful?