Finger foods are popular party fare because everyone, not just children, loves
to eat with his or her hands. Whether the appetizers are set on a buffet
table or served as passed hors d’oeuvres, they always seem to disappear in
minutes. Nutrition-conscious eaters welcome bite-size morsels, since
these savory, oftenrich foods provide pleasure without much guilt.
book Finger Foods
, Mabel Hoffman pointed out that guests are more mobile when
they do not need to use silverware. She defined a finger food as
something “small enough to be eaten without utensils” and gave a succinct guide
to what kind of food is suitable: “It does not break, drip, crumble, mash, bend
or disintegrate from the time it leaves the serving plate until it reaches your
A popular idea for making finger foods is serving familiar dishes
in miniature form. They can be prepared as individual portions like small
burekas or mini quiches. Such items as kugels or pies can be baked in larger
pans and cut into small squares or wedges for serving.
finger foods at recent parties we attended were the hot appetizers. At a bar
mitzva celebration, the toasted baguette slices with olive paste were sampled
eagerly, as were Reuben turnovers, a puff pastry adaptation of the American
sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut and mustard.
Few people could resist
the small skewers of Indonesian-inspired chicken satays with sweet and spicy
peanut dipping sauce or the mini-frankfurters in pastry.
pastry are ubiquitous at parties. The humble hot dog stars in this
tried-and-true combination, which comes in many forms, from the elegant French
saucisson en brioche to homey American pigs in a blanket, which are often made
of breakfast sausages baked in biscuit dough. At our friends’
Thanksgiving party, the smoked cocktail sausage slices baked in flaky homemade
yeast dough were a hit. When made with good quality dough, even a packaged kind,
and flavorful sausages, these treats made of only two ingredients can be
terrific. Hoffman’s easy version of this delicacy is made of frankfurters with
mustard, horseradish and a touch of jam in store-bought bread dough. Her
Mexican-style variation has smoked sausage links baked in tortillas with chopped
onion and hot salsa.
A grilled morsel of meat with a flavorful dipping
sauce has universal appeal as a festive appetizer. Because it’s a tiny portion,
often the meat is more highly seasoned than usual to deliver a burst of flavor.
Spicy, tangy and sweet-and-sour themes of the Far East have become such
favorites that no one seemed surprised to find savories of Indonesian origin
among traditional foods at a Jewish simha
Hot toasted bread is a simple
to prepare base for tasty toppings. Hoffman’s formula for easy cheese fingers
calls for spreading a mixture of grated Parmesan, mild grated yellow cheese,
chopped red onion and mayonnaise on sandwich bread, broiling it briefly until
the cheese bubbles and cutting it in finger shapes.
author of First Impressions
, turns bread into rich finger food bases by baking
slices brushed with olive oil and melted butter until crisp. At serving time she
adds a hot topping, such as fresh and dried mushrooms sauteed with garlic and
rosemary, or sauteed tomatoes with leeks, and bakes them again briefly in the
Pizzettes or mini pizzas made from fresh pizza dough also make good
hors d’oeuvres bases. Rosbottom rolls the pizza dough very thin and cuts it in
rounds as if making cookies and then pricks them with a fork so they won’t rise
much. She bakes the rounds until lightly colored, and before serving she heats
them with a flavorful mixture spooned on top, such as cooked asparagus pieces
with grated fontina cheese or tomato sauce with black and green
No matter which of these finger foods you serve, don’t forget to
provide plenty of napkins.
Faye Levy is the author of the three-volume
Fresh from France cookbook series.
GREENS WITH CHEESE ON TOAST
An ordinary vegetable puree becomes a party finger
food when you enrich it with butter, cream and a flavorful cheese and bake it on
toasted baguette. Use fresh chard leaves or fresh or frozen spinach for this
recipe, or substitute a puree of broccoli or cauliflower.
You can make
the creamy puree a day ahead and keep it in a covered container in the
refrigerator. Reheat it gently before spreading it on the buttery toasted
500 gr. to 550 gr. fresh chard or spinach or 340 gr. frozen
75 gr. or 85 grams (5 or 6 Tbsp.) butter, or 2 or 3 Tbsp. butter and 3
Tbsp. olive oil
3 or 4 Tbsp. heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
grated nutmeg to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
16 thin slices slim
French bread (baguette)
4 Tbsp. shredded Swiss cheese or 2 Tbsp. grated
Parmesan, or more to taste
Remove chard or spinach stems and wash leaves
thoroughly. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook fresh or frozen greens
uncovered, over high heat, pushing leaves down into water often, about 2 minutes
or until very tender. Rinse with cold water and squeeze by handfuls until dry.
Puree cooked greens in food processor or chop with a large knife until very
In a medium-size saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over low heat
until very hot, add cooked greens, and stir until heated through. Stir in cream
and heat until it is absorbed by the puree. Stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons butter
and continue cooking just until absorbed. Season to taste with salt, pepper,
nutmeg and cayenne pepper. If you have made the puree ahead, reheat it gently
Preheat oven to 220º. Put bread slices on a baking
sheet. Soften remaining butter and spread on both sides of slices, or brush both
sides of bread with olive oil. Bake buttered bread in preheated oven for 5
minutes. Turn slices over and bake for 3 more minutes.
Divide chard or
spinach puree among bread slices and spread evenly over them. Sprinkle with
shredded cheese. Return to oven and bake for 7 minutes, or until cheese melts
and puree is very hot. Serve immediately.
Makes 16 finger
SAUSAGE ROLLS IN PUFF PASTRY
Serve these the French way with Dijon
mustard, or give a choice of mustard, ketchup or barbecue sauce. The sausage
rolls can be frozen baked or unbaked. I learned to make these sausage rolls in
Paris, and the recipe is from a book I edited called La Varenne’s Basic French
450 gr. puff pastry, well chilled
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of
salt (for glaze)
30 cocktail sausages
Sprinkle water on 2 baking sheets. Roll
out dough 6 mm. thick.Trim edges with a knife. Brush entire surface with
beaten egg. Cut in 15-cm. wide strips.
Place cocktail sausages lengthwise
along one edge of each strip; roll up. Gently press seam to seal. Cut roll
between each sausage.
Place each sausage roll seam side down on prepared
baking sheets. Brush with beaten egg. Use the back of a small knife to decorate
tops with a lattice pattern without cutting through dough to
Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until dough is firm. Preheat oven
to 220º. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes until pastry is puffed and browned. Transfer
to a rack to cool.
Makes about 30 rolls.