Cook Sip Party Primp Interviews Raw Canvas Home

10.01.10 by  

DIY Bar Bites

Call us lazy bastards or just extremely innovative, but create-your-own appetizers shake up a party, sans the work. Guests build apps from a tray of fixings (just tell them it’s fun!) and you’ve got time to nurse that drink. Now, who’s in charge of dessert?

Okay, we can’t be the only ones who love hosting parties, but every now and then wish we had a team of interns working the labor train. We’re not asking them to give us pedicures, but hey, how about julienning some crudité once in a while? That’s when the light bulb came on. Who needs interns when you’ve got guests?

Off-road nori wraps with gourmet, in-season vegetables and whatever you can nab from your Asian market.

The idea here is a build-your-own-appetizer bar. You supply the tray of ingredients and if you’re feeling generous, a hot oven and stocked sideboard. A fair exchange we-thinks…you keep them buzzed, while they create the bar bites. Genius.

Here’s what’s on our list (feel free to school us in some additions!):

These cats are on the bottom:

  • baguettes. You don’t even have to toast them. Just turn the oven on in case someone else wants to heat up their bites.
  • crackers. Have both thick and thin varieties on hand.
  • pita. Also easy and a great platform for stacking.
  • lettuce leaves. Sure, iceberg has zero nutritional value, but it’s hearty enough to wrap around vegetables and top with sauce.
  • nori. Small crispy squares can be piled high, or make quick sushi roll ups by softening seaweed with a touch of water.

And these are on top:

  • avocado. Peel, slice, squirt with lemon juice. Voila!
  • cheese. Put out a loaded cheese board and let them create!
  • chicken. Grilled chicken works on a cracker, in a lettuce wrap or mounded on a crisp baguette. Let them play.
  • fresh herbs. Parsley, cilantro, basil … whatever you can also use in your sideboard.
  • hummus, tahini … Basically any topping with a smooth, creamy texture that adds a little flavor.
  • mustards. Hot, zesty, savory, spicy, boozed-up … a drop on just about anything ups the flavor factor.
  • pickles. Yeah, we’re obsessed. What’s your point? Trust us, people dig them. A lot.
  • pickled onions. True, we just mentioned pickles, but those sweet-spicy red onions deserve special mention. Douse them in champagne vinegar and a little sugar pre-party and they’ll be topping-ready when the workers, er, guests arrive.
  • kim chi. Ever had this stuffed wedged into a lettuce leaf with some grilled chicken? Withhold judgment until you have. It’s awesome.
  • salami. Give the carnivores some meat and they’re happy and productive. Hit up your local butcher for a spread.
  • sauces. People love to dip stuff in stuff. That’s the easiest way to say it. Think cocktail sauce, peanut sauce, maybe a little vinegar … sex it up!
  • shellfish. A bowl of sautéed or grilled medium shrimp. Done.
  • spices. Take all of your mini soy sauce dishes and fill them with red pepper, black pepper, sea salt, smoked paprika, dried oregano.
  • vegetable shavings. Carrots, scallions, horseradish (does that qualify as a vegetable?), asparagus, beets. They’re great for presentation and texture.

If you’re feeling fancy, add a tray of place cards and a Sharpie so guests can name their concoction, assuming they don’t eat everything they create on the spot.