you're really short on time and can't assemble hundreds of canapés this
"self-serve" solution is an easy crowd-pleaser. Simply place a bowl of tasty
spread in the center of a tray of vegetables or crackers and a knife (if
needed) for spreading. It's easy, informal and fun to have your guests make
their own snacks. In the ‘50s this might have meant sour cream and onion
soup mix dip surrounded by potato chips (which, despite the ridicule it
receives today, will still be one of the first bowls wiped clean). Happily,
there are many contemporary alternatives to this classic. For starters,
I like to serve most dips and spreads with raw vegetables instead of crackers
or chips, especially if you are also serving canapés or other bready snacks.
This isn't a health-conscious choice (the ingredients in most dips already
assure that these aren't for calorie counters) it's just a matter of providing
contrast and interest between the texture and quality of the fare.
Pink Horseradish Dip
Mix 2 cups of crème fraiche with 2 tbsp. beet horseradish, 1 tsp.
prepared horseradish, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, 1 tbsp. chopped scallion
and ¼ tsp. salt. The beet horseradish (a mixture of beets and prepared
white horseradish available pre-made in stores) gives this dip a delightful
pink color that looks best served with a striking green vegetable for
dipping. If sugar peas are in season, blanch about 2 pounds in boiling
for one minute, drain and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the
cooking process. Drain thoroughly and keep refrigerated. At serving time,
arrange the chilled peas on a platter like spokes around the center bowl
of pink horseradish dip.
This dip hearkens straight back to the days when any blue cheese
was called Roquefort. It's definitely not necessary to use the real thing
but I keep the name for its period appeal. Soften ½ cup blue cheese, ¼
cup cream cheese; blend with 2 tbsp. mayonnaise, ¼ to 1 tsp. Worcestershire
sauce, and minced onion and lemon juice to taste. This is a great accompaniment
to cauliflower florets.
This appetizer is about as easy as it gets. Simply place a bowl
of Cocktail Sauce (you can buy this pre-made) in the center of a serving
plate. Surround with large, cooked, cleaned shrimp on wooden picks. For
a fresher and lovelier presentation, place the shrimp and bowl of sauce
atop a large punch bowl full of ice.
Now we've graduated to:
...or back to: