In an age in which backyard parties and large get-togethers are temporarily taboo, those home entertainers among us suffer. They suffer from not being able to decorate, tablescape, and share their culinary prowess with friends and family.
Virtual cocktail parties have sprung up like spring onions and we have resorted to technology to bring us together. The phrase “miss your face” is being uttered on social media and in text messages and we are relegated to keeping to our own personal space, at least 6 feet apart.
The new normal — a phrase we’ve all grown weary of — presents its own challenges for entertaining. Small groups of people are getting together in front yards, setting their lawn chairs in socially distanced circles. Only those closest to us sit around our dinner tables, and we’re taking more opportunities for outdoor activities like picnics in the park.
Small groups and small bites
Small groups and small bites go hand in hand and allow us entertainers a chance to be imaginative in how we serve our few guests. Whether we’re in the front yard, around a table, or at the park, we can serve easy bite-sized treats that are delicious without being fussy.
Make several different bites and arrange them on platters or in bowls to create an eclectic selection. While small groups means a little less cooking, you do want to make enough for everyone to feel full. A good rule of thumb is to make 10 to 12 bite-sized pieces per person. Served with a signature cocktail or flavored iced tea, you have the makings of a perfect little party.
Enjoy these ideas as you create your own small bites menu:
- Crispy bacon-wrapped figs, dates, or little smokies
- Mini taco cups topped with sour cream and cilantro
- Thick cucumber slices topped with swirled salmon cream cheese and a dill frond
- Baked puff pastry spirals stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese
- Mini-quiches of any type — use pastry shells to make these simple
- Classic rumaki — bacon-wrapped water chestnuts — covered in barbecue sauce
- Marinated butter beans
- A variety of deviled eggs
- Nut-covered cheese ball bites
- Shrimp toast bites
- Beef Wellington bites
- Antipasto on a stick — mozzarella balls, salami, and olives dressed with vinaigrette
- Brie cubes stuffed in puff pastry shells topped with cranberry compote or hazelnut spread and strawberries
- Crab or salmon cake poppers with remoulade
- Salami cornucopias stuffed with cream cheese or goat cheese skewered with an olive on top
- Fried cheese-filled tortellini or chicken parmesan bites with marinara dipping sauce
- Small pastry puffs (pâte à choux) stuffed with chicken salad or pimento cheese
- Baked new potatoes or baby potatoes halves stuffed with sausage and cheese
- Parmesan cheese cups (baked in mini-muffin tins) filled with vegetable salad combinations
- Cubed watermelon or cantaloupe stacked with feta cheese and basil
Niki Davis is the creator of Rooted in Foods food heritage blog and a regular contributor to The Southern Illinoisan's weekly Taste section. You can find her at www.rootedinfoods.com.