Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Minimalist Entertaining: Horsdeorves

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to have my friend, Dan come over to visit. I say I was lucky because I used to work with him and I hadn't seen him since last June! (It's amazing how busy we all are.) I knew he'd be coming from work and would be hungry, so I put out some munchies. He remarked that I always put out a spread that looks like it came out of a magazine. I must admit it's true but also quite it's easy!

It's all about balance. The anchor in an horsdeorves spread is the bread. You can use crackers, bread sticks, flat bread etc., but I have found that a sliced baguette looks the best because it isn't crumbly. Next cheeses. It's best to have several types, basically something mild but fancy like smoked cheddar and something intense like a strong French cheese or hot cheese like Sonoma Jack with jalapeno. Then I use at least one sliced meat like salami or smoked salmon. The important thing is to roll the pieces up individually so they are easy for your guests to stab with a fork. Next something pickled. I find pimento stuffed or jalapeno stuffed olives to be interesting and easiest for guests to grab. Some kind of fruit balances the entire group and I usually use grapes because they look so Mediterranean and also serve as a garnish. I always put the bread with the cheese and the meat with the olives and put the grapes around each in bunches.

There are unlimited variations on this theme and if you're expecting a lot of people it is best to create trays that you can store in the fridge and replace as they are eaten up. Just give people their own plates and put some shrimp forks around the food and people are very comfortable helping themselves. I once made ahead three large trays which were actually pizza pans covered in foil and fed 26 hungry people lunch after the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure!

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