Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What shall I serve my guests before the dinner party?

When guests arrive to your dinner party, why not use this time to serve some delicious and decorative canape? A little touch like this can make your dinner party even more memorable.

Typically, as your guests arrive they would be served a chilled drink - maybe some wine or champagne and guests would mingle, chatting.

To serve alcohol responsibly, it's a great idea to serve it with food. People may not have much food on their stomachs on arrival knowing that they are being served dinner, so the alcohol can go straight to one's head. The trick is that you don't want to serve too much food prior to the meal because you don't want appetites to be ruined for the actual meal itself.

You can serve some light finger food as a preview to your meal - often called a canapé or Hors d'oeuvre.

A canapé or canape is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in just one bite.

A typical canapé has a base of puff pastry, toast, bread or crackers - thinly sliced or cut into an attractive shape. These are topped with a "canopy". The topping is generally a spread - like a savory food, puree or relish - even a pate. Sometimes these toppings are "piped" onto the base with a pastry bag and the final touch is a garnish. Common garnishes can include herbs, finely sliced vegetables, caviar or scallions.

Canape are often served at stand-up cocktail events and over a few hours one would receive anywhere between four and eight pieces. So, as a foretaste to your meal, you needn't serve a lot. Personally, I love looking through the menu and making my selections because the canape look and sound so exotic. But the great thing is that you can make some yourself quickly and easily - and you can really make an impression on your guests. The internet has some wonderful free recipes.

You can walk them around on a canape platter offering them to your guests or they can be positioned on a tray so that people help themselves when they feel like a piece.

Canape and Hors d'oeuvre can be served as guests are stationery, while at the dinner table before the meal is served or as a part of the sit-down meal (but this last serving suggestion would then be called an "appetizer").

As an aside, I have found out that stationery hors d'oeuvre are also referred to as "table hors d'oeuvre." Passed hors d'oeuvre are referred to as "butler-style," "butlered" or "butler-passed" hors d'oeuvre.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, check out this great recipe book:

The Hostess with the Mostess

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