You're about to have a pool party (OK, so it's a patio, terrace or garden party or reception) and you want to serve finger appetizers with drinks. Nothing too fancy, too difficult or too expensive. No plates, no forks, no fuss or muss. Is it possible?
Not only is it possible, but you'd be surprised at the variety of appetizers that fit the bill from experts who make a living dreaming these things up. Many of the appetizers can be assembled ahead partially or fully to cut down on last-minute preparation.
Pimiento-Wrapped Sausages--Use canned pimientos or roast red, yellow and green pepper halves. Remove skin, membrane and seeds, split halves lengthwise. Wrap around well-browned, whole homemade or Italian sausage, bratwurst, frankfurter, andouille, or any sausages, using as many pepper strips as needed to completely cover the sausage. Then cut into one-inch (or bite-size) pieces to serve. Spear pieces with bamboo sticks. Serve at room temperature on a tray.-- From Tutto Italia, Sunset Plaza .
Oysters in Sake Cups--Marinate the flesh of fresh oysters in a mixture of sake, lime juice and soy sauce to taste. Place each oyster in an individual sake cup. Squirt with a drop of hot pepper sauce. These can also be served on the shell. Serve on tray covered with seaweed.-- From Caterer Milton Williams, Hollywood.
Blue Corn Tortillas with Sour Cream and Caviar--Cut tortillas into one and a half-inch rounds and fry. (Can be stored in airtight container in a dry place). Before serving, top tortillas with sour cream and caviar.-- From St. Estephe, Manhattan Beach.
Sashimi Rolls--Cut fresh sea bass, swordfish or other firm-fleshed fish fillet into paper-thin slices. Scatter each slice with finely chopped oranges, olives and red onions. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and lime juice. Roll and cut into halves, spear with wood picks and serve on a tray.-- From Camelions , Santa Monica.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Bread Sticks--Wrap paper-thin slices of prosciutto halfway down thin bread sticks. Serve piled on a tray with or without mustard, tomato or other sauces for dipping.-- From Prego restaurant, Beverly Hills.
Tortilla Arrows--Cut tortillas into two-inch long, three-quarter-inch wide arrow shapes. Fry and serve with salsa, or squirt zigzag design on arrows with tomato puree or barbecue sauce.-- From St. Estephe, Manhattan Beach.
Crostini--Dice ripe tomatoes and season with grated onion, salt, pepper, and chopped Italian parsley. Pile on toasted French bread rounds. Drizzle with olive oil.-- From Silvio's, Hollywood.
Tortelli on Sticks--Cook large size tortelli (stuffed pasta or ravioli) of your choice until tender. Thread on tip of long bamboo skewer. Serve with dip of tomato sauce, pesto sauce or other favorite pasta sauce. Pile on tray with bowl of sauce for dipping.-- From Valentino, Santa Monica.
Fried Pasta Nibbles--If pasta (bow ties, corkskrew or other shapes) are dry, cook them until barely tender, drain, and then deep-fry until crisp and lightly browned. (If fresh pasta is used, deep-fry only.) Drain and sprinkle with garlic salt and grated Parmesan cheese. Cool and store in airtight containers. Serve in a linen-lined basket or container.-- From Pasta, Etc.
Toast with Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes--Spread olive oil-brushed baguette toast rounds with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, fresh goat cheese and pepper, and sprinkle with sun-dried tomato bits. --From Ken Frank, La Toque, Hollywood.
Caviar Potatoes--Using small new or red potatoes, cook or bake until tender. Cool, peel away cap and scoop out about one-third of pulp. Fill cavity with sour cream and top with dab of caviar. If large, split potatoes in halves, scoop and fill cavity. Cut a thin slice at bottom to make them stand upright, if necessary.-- From Caterer Milton Williams, Hollywood
Sunflowers--Cook artichokes and pull off leaves. (Or use small fresh Belgian endive leaves). Spread seasoned cream cheese on meaty base of each leaf, top with baby shrimp and sprinkle with paprika. Arrange leaves spoke fashion to resemble a sunflower on a platter.-- From Jean's Catering, Los Angeles.
Fruity Kebabs--Thread cantaloupe balls, strawberries and honeydew chunks on bamboo skewers. Serve with chilled dip made by combining sour cream, marmalade and chopped walnuts.-- From a garden party in Hollywood.
Bourbon Ribs--In a shallow baking pan dilute catsup with bourbon and season with sugar and grated onion. Place ribs in the catsup mixture and bake until they are very tender. Transfer to chafing dish and serve with wood picks.-- An idea inspired by a recipe using bourbon by chef Dale Payne of Bistango.
Cubed Hazelnut Salmon on a Stick--Cut salmon (white chicken or turkey meat also can be used) into bite-size cubes and roll in softened butter mixed with toasted chopped hazelnuts or other nuts. Thread on tip of long bamboo skewer and broil or grill on hibachi. Serve hot as they come off the grill.-- A variation on a fabulous grilled Copper River Alaskan salmon dish from Stepps restaurant, Los Angeles.