"Let's have an appetizer."
"Oh no, we've had too many appetizers already."
"Oh, those were hors d'oeuvres, not appetizers."
"Really? What's the difference?"
Well, an hors d'oeuvre is a small snack, eaten anytime. An appetizer is part of a meal and is the first course. Oh busboy, even Wikipedia gets it mixed up and defines the two words together, but a hors d'oeuvre is a small snack and an appetizer is part of the sit-down meal.
Sometimes the food is similar, but they each have different roles in your eating plan.
An hors d'oeuvre (note the three vowels in a row) is usually served during the cocktail period when guests first arrive. The food might be put out to sustain guests during the wait before the meal, or it can be served with no meal afterward, as at a cocktail party. Hors d'oeuvres can be served passed, called butler style, or displayed on a table. Hors d'oeuvres might differ from daily snacks, as they are more formal or more planned. Some thoughts that might help when planning:
1. Small. An hors d'oeuvre is small and easy to eat.
2. They should be finger food, able to eat in one or two bites . The guest should be able to eat the hors d'oeuvre and hold a drink at the same time.
3. My rule of thumb is usually three per person per hour, plus fillers. Be very cautious of the time of day, as some will view the hors d'oeuvre as dinner.
4. Plan for some simple fillers such as dips, spreads or vegetables.
5. Make sure that each item of the same food is uniform in shape and size. With so many little pieces, it can look messy if they are all different sizes.
6. There should be four to five choices available at once: some crisp, some meat, some cheese, some savory.
7. The preparation of hors d'oeuvres can be more time-consuming than preparing a whole meal, so plan your time or prepare to pay accordingly. Consider the labor and time needed to stuff 200 mushroom caps.
8. Control the difficult-to-prepare, limited or expensive items by passing the item. It's also a nice touch.
9. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. We don't want any sick guests.
An appetizer is a small morsel of food served as the first course of a meal. It should increase the appetite and showcase the quality of the items to follow. Some helpful thoughts:
1. The appetizer should be very tasty, as it is an indication of the meal to come.
2. It should leave the guest wanting more.
3. It should look as good as it tastes. This is an introduction to the evening fare.
4. An appetizer should be small. We don't want to fill up the guests before dinner.
5. They should be made with very little fat, which coats the taste buds. They should not be spicy or hot to paralyze the taste buds. They should not be too sweet to smother the taste buds.
6. Light and limited is the appetizer mantra. Poor examples of appetizers are loaded potato skins, hot salsa and chips or a pasta sampler.
7. Examples of good appetizers are: cocktails, such as the juice of fruit with bright colors and a tangy taste, served in a well-chilled glass; chilled soups; petite salads with tasty or unusual ingredients; or sliced savory meats or fish.
Here are a couple of my favorite, very easy recipes:
Mock Boursin Au Poivre
A variation of the classic spread or canape topper.
1 package cream cheese - 8 oz.
2 t. minced garlic
2 t. caraway seeds
2 t. chopped fresh chives
1 t. dried basil
2 t. dill weed
Crushed black peppercorn
1. Mix all ingredients but the pepper.
2. Form into a round ball and flatten to a ball.
3. Place the crushed peppercorns on a sheet of plastic wrap.
4. Roll the ball on the pepper, evenly coating each side with pepper.
5. Wrap, then refrigerate for one hour.
Cold cucumber soup
1/4 c. butter or olive oil
2 cups peeled , chopped cucumbers, seeds removed
1/2 c. sweet onions,
2 c. whole milk or half and half
Season with salt and white pepper if desired.
1. Saute onions in butter or olive oil, add cucumbers and cook until tender.
2. Remove from heat and gently add milk or cream.
3. Place in a blender and spin until smooth.
4. Chill thoroughly.
5. Serve in a chilled, stemmed glass with doilies under a plate. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and a dash of dill.
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