Whether you’re hosting an elegant cocktail party or a gathering after an afternoon of skating, hors d’oeuvres are essential for holiday entertaining.

“From mini versions of comfort food classics to elegant desserts, flavourful hors d’oeuvres are a popular option for everyone,” says Anna Olson, Home Hardware’s Kitchen Expert and the star of Bake with Anna Olson on Food Network Canada. You can enjoy the process of planning your next hors d’oeuvre party, and even be a guest at your own get-together, by following a few easy tips.”

Here are some of her ideas and simple tricks:

• Pick Your Dishes – Choose your hors d’oeuvre platters in advance and place a note on each plate or dish to ensure you have a platter for everything. To be even more organized, arrange your plates on the table ahead of time so you know they will all fit and look balanced. For a unique entertaining experience, use trendy individual sized serving dishes such as the Libbey Just Tasting collection of mini serving dishes.

• Prep Your Garnishes – Hors d’oeuvres can be fussy since they are individual morsels. To use your time most effectively, chop your chives and parsley and pre-slice your lemons and garnishes ahead of time. Using a knife with granton depressions, such as the Kuraidori chef’s knife, allows for quicker chopping because the depressions prevent the food from sticking. Use the Vac N Store system to keep your garnishes fresher for longer and to save space in your fridge. Both products are available at Home Hardware. Label them for what they will be used for, in case you have to ask for others to help you assemble.

• Think Outside the Skillet – If you don’t have enough plates or platters for your hors d’oeuvres, dips or other goodies, consider a cast iron skillet. One of my favourites is one from Kuraidori. It conducts heat beautifully; can be used to sear shrimp or scallops; can go from the stovetop to the oven with no problem; and a cast iron skillet can also be a great vessel for crudité and dip, or to present crackers or breads.

• Soup for a Few or a Crowd – Big hearty bowls of soup or chili are perfect to end a skating party or afternoon of skiing, but tiny soup-sippers, like the Libbey mini glasses or bowls, offer an elegant hors d’oeuvre-sized portion to warm up your guests. Individual glasses can be sipped if making a smooth soup, or for a heartier broth place a mini spoon in each glass. The Kuraidori three-ply pots are great for making soup because the layers distribute heat evenly to avoid hot spots and the flared edge with closed rim allows for dripless pouring.

• Don’t Forget Dessert – After your guests are finished with cheese, veggies and other savoury lovelies, they might want something sweet and small. Hors d’oeuvre-sized desserts are the perfect complement. Chocolate mousse looks fantastic in mini dessert glasses, especially when topped with a little shortbread. Finely diced fruit also takes on a new appeal when presented in mini glasses and is a healthy option.

Tasty hors d’oeuvre recipes by Anna Olson are available online at www.homehardware.ca/recipes.


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