Easy Upscale Appetizers and Snacks
Blue cheese potato chips, smoked ham and truffled cheese puffs, and smoked salmon and caviar sliders
When you want to bring a touch of class to a party with unique but approachable foods, try these three upscale appetizers and snacks. JeanMarie Brownson presents blue cheese potato chips, smoked ham and truffled cheese puffs, and smoked salmon and caviar sliders. Just be sure to have the recipes available for sharing!
Empty plates and smiling guests prove the telltale signs of a good party. If folks request recipes, the host feels rewarded. Whatever the occasion, you can keep things casual, but delicious, with a variety of easy upscale appetizers and snacks. Make sure each offering features something indulgent and worthy of treating your guests.
First, our new infatuation: blue cheese potato chips inspired by a dish served at the Cap City Diner in Ohio. There, they top hearty potato chips with blue cheese, Alfredo sauce and chives. So ingenuous, yet so memorable. At home, our version swaps bottled blue cheese salad dressing for the homemade Alfredo sauce. A drizzle of hot red pepper sauce adds a kick.
Gougeres, little puffs made from choux paste (a cooked flour and egg dough), delight everyone – even the cook. The dough welcomes a generous portion of chopped ham and a specialty cheese. During the winter holidays, I am partial to Point Reyes Toma Truffle cheese, but shredded Gruyere or Gouda and a dash of truffle oil can be substituted. Bake the puffs in advance and pop them in the oven to re-crisp before serving.
For the sliders of caviar, use small slider buns with a touch of sweetness such as Martin’s Potato Rolls or King’s Hawaiian original sweet rolls. Toast the rolls and make the smoked salmon spread in advance. Then assemble and serve when the guests arrive.
Round out the appetizer menu with bowls of interesting crackers, seasoned olives and nuts. Arrange assorted cheeses and small bunches of grapes on a large cutting board. If the crowd gets large, I add a store-bought veggie tray with hummus and a platter of roasted meatballs (purchased uncooked from the local butcher) with a barbecue sauce for dipping.
For sweet fans, set out specialty chocolates or macarons from the local bakery.
Break out the wine, beer, and liquors – local options if you can – as well as a variety of non-alcoholic options.
Blue Cheese Potato Chips
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 8 loosely packed cups (8 ounces) kettle style or hearty ruffled potato chips, preferably low sodium
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup bottled blue cheese dressing
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion tops
- Red hot sauce, optional
- Heat broiler. If possible, adjust rack so it is 8 or more inches from broiler heat source.
- Arrange potato chips in a slightly mounded layer on a large baking sheet with sides. Drizzle generously with blue cheese dressing.
- Sprinkle with bleu cheese.
- Broil, 8 inches from heat source, until chips start to turn golden and toasty and cheese is hot and melty, about 2 minutes. Do not walk away, as the chips can burn easily. Serve right away sprinkled with green onions and hot sauce.
Smoked Ham and Truffled Cheese Puffs
Makes about 40
Note: Point Reyes Toma Truffle cheese tastes great and melts nicely here.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon each: salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely shredded truffled cheese OR Gruyere or Gouda
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) finely chopped smoked ham, such as rosemary ham
- 1/3 cup finely sliced green onions
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, optional
- Glaze: 1 large egg, beaten
- Coarse (kosher) salt
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Put 1 cup water, the butter, salt and pepper into a heavy-bottomed medium-size saucepan. Heat to a boil, stirring so butter melts. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir (dough will be stiff) until it pulls away from side of pan, about 3 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat. Add 1 egg and beat with a hand mixer (or stir vigorously) to incorporate it into the dough. Repeat with remaining 3 eggs. Use a spoon to stir in cheese, ham, green onions and rosemary.
- Use a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, or two spoons dipped in cold water to form mounds that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch high on prepared baking sheets. Space the mounds about 2 inches apart. When all the mounds are formed, brush the tops with some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes more. Cool on wire racks. Serve warm. (To prepare in advance, store cooled puffs in a cookie tin for up to 2 days. Pop them into a hot oven to recrisp and warm slightly.)
Smoked Salmon and Caviar Sliders
Note: Olive tapenade can stand in for the caviar.
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche or mascarpone
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- 12 small rolls, such as 1/2 of a 15-ounce package potato party-size slider rolls
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 jar (2 ounces) black lumpfish caviar
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced chives or green onions
- Whisk together sour cream, creme fraiche, Worcestershire sauce and pepper in a medium-size bowl until smooth. Flake the salmon into the cream mixture and stir well. Refrigerate covered up to several hours.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Split rolls and arrange cut-side up on a baking sheet. Brush cut sides lightly with oil. Bake until golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Spread a thick layer of the salmon cream over the bottom of the rolls. Top with a small spoonful of the caviar. Sprinkle with chives or green onions. Put the tops of the rolls in place and serve.
JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel, and dining for more than four decades.
© 2022 JeanMarie Brownson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.