These are the bright, crunchy, savory, seasonal bites your friends will love. Our make-ahead strategies make it totally doable.
Small Bite Soirée
When it's that turkey or brisket time of year—a time of important ritual cooking—the way a cook can cut loose and entertain purely for the sake of entertaining is to throw a warm, seasonal app-and-cocktail party. A deft mix of savory bites and brilliant drinks leads to pure conviviality, real joie de vivre. The care taken with homemade food and drink makes all the difference. These appetizers will delight.
Melted Manchego Tortas with Romesco and Chorizo
Spanish flatbreads, or tortas, are a tapas staple. Make these with thin sandwich round halves and a 1 1/4-inch circular cutter. You'll only use 1/4 cup of the romesco, but the remainder makes a great sauce for meats, vegetables, or fish.
Savory Crisps with Bacon and Rosemary
Keeping the bacon very cold makes it much easier to cut for these simple, yet flavorful, bites.
Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms
Brown the mushrooms and make the pesto ahead of time, and refrigerate. To serve, bring to room temperature, and fill caps.
Crisp Persimmon with Ricotta, Honey, Pecans, and Mint
Unlike soft, plum tomato-shaped Hachiya persimmons, squat, round Fuyu persimmons are crisp with an earthy sweetness. Top with a creamy-sweet combo of ricotta, honey, pecans, and sliced mint for an easy hors-d'oeuvre.
Polenta Toasts with Balsamic Onions, Roasted Peppers, Feta, and Thyme
The polenta and onions may be prepared a few days in advance.
Smoked Salmon Salad in Cucumber Cups
Substitute gravlax or even flaked canned salmon if you prefer salmon that has not been smoked. Wasabi mayonnaise is available in the condiment section of most supermarkets. Or make your own by blending 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon wasabi paste, or more wasabi to taste.
Smoked Trout, Arugula, and Granny Smith Stacks
Using crisp apple as the "base" for smoked trout makes for a healthy bite with lots of crunchy and interesting, contrasting flavors.
Meatballs in Brussels Sprout Cups
Friends will love the ingenuity of these appetizers—little meatballs cradled in Brussels sprout cups, cleverly seasonal.