Make-Ahead Hors d'Oeuvres
After baking flaky squares of puff pastry, Melissa Rubel tops them with sweet fig preserves and pungent blue cheese.
Grappa-Cured Striped Bass
Grappa, an Italian spirit, is made from grape pomace (the skins, seeds and stems left over from winemaking). Its slight earthiness and high alcohol make it perfect for curing fish, as in David Page's meaty striped bass fillets here, delicately scented with fennel.
Shrimp Cocktail with Singapore Hot Sauce
Susan Feniger likes to quickly simmer raw shrimp in broth or sauté them with garlic and ginger, but you can certainly use precooked shrimp to save time. This sweet-and-spicy sauce was inspired by the ones Feniger sampled at street stalls throughout Singapore.
To create these wonderful tapas, José Andrés makes a batter with crunchy nubs of chopped cauliflower florets, fries spoonfuls in a skillet and then tops the fritters with yogurt sauce and a dollop of caviar.
Whipped Feta with Cucumbers
The taste of the Mediterranean shines through in this airy feta spread that's served with olive oil-marinated cucumbers.
Goat Cheese-Stuffed Roasted Figs
Serve the roasted figs drizzled with warmed honey.
Greek Salad Skewers with Anchovy Aioli
For a playful presentation, slide a fat, flat slice of cucumber onto the bottom of each skewer so these hors d'oeuvres can stand upright on a serving platter.
Pan-Fried Oysters with Creamy Radish and Cucumber Salad
Paul Kahan loves the intense flavor of oysters, and like most chefs, he adores anything fried. Here he serves the crunchy oysters with a creamy raita-like cucumber mixture.
Chicken-Liver Mousse with Pickled Red Onion
A good recipe for chicken-liver mousse is critical, says Shawn McClain, "because when a recipe's bad, it's really bad." His version is supremely silky and light, with a lovely hint of apple from Calvados. He serves the mousse with pickled red onion and toasted baguette slices alongside, so guests can assemble their own crostini.
Most Paris bistros serve at least one verrine: a multi-textured salad or dessert layered in a glass. This one comes from French-born food stylist Béatrice Peltre of the blog La Tartine Gourmande.
Joël Robuchon ingeniously softens spongy eggplant by steaming it instead of sautéing it in oil. "Usually, cooked eggplant absorbs so much oil and becomes full of fat," he says.
Pimento Cheese & Bacon Crostini
The cookbook Down Home with the Neelys has inventive Southern-inspired recipes like these irresistible crostini.
Fromage Blanc Custards with Radish Salad
Chef Ludo Lefebvre adores radishes, and he's always looking for new ways to feature them. Here, he turns them into a colorful, spicy salad, served on top of a divine custard that's really a savory panna cotta.
Fried Parsnip Ribbons
Fried parsnip make for an and crunchy vegetable snack.
Boiled Shrimp with Spicy Mayonnaise
Mustard and white pepper amp up the heat in this homemade mayo for shrimp.
Shrimp-and-Pork Spring Rolls
Zang Toi's supremely crispy spring rolls are filled with a mix of marinated shrimp, ground pork and a handful of colorful julienned vegetables, like carrot, jicama and beans. The fried shallot rings add alluring flavor and crunch to the spring rolls, too, but they're optional. Toi even makes his own chile sauce to serve as an accompaniment.
Use ground coriander from a bottle to easily season this bright, tangy recipe.
These luscious little tarts are filled with fresh ricotta. The trick to making the cheese silky is to puree it before spreading it on the flaky pastry and topping it with oven-roasted tomatoes.
Melissa Rubel rolls buttery puff pastry around salty prosciutto and melty Fontina to create deeply savory hors d'oeuvres.
Smoked Mozzarella Spread with Flatbread Crackers
F&W's Marcia Kiesel likes to whiz smoked mozzarella in the food processor with sun-dried tomato pesto and olive oil.
One bite of these shrimp and a swig of vodka will instantly transport you to Scandinavia.
Caramelized Onion Dip
This savory onion dip, a classic addition to any gathering, can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days.
Three-Cheese Mini Macs
Anything big made small is ultrafun for cocktail parties, and these quick, one-bite mac and cheeses are the ultimate example. Cooked in mini muffin pans, the mini macs can be assembled early and baked just as guests arrive.
Pepper-Glazed Goat Cheese Gratin
This warm, sweet-spicy goat cheese dip is an easy alternative to a cheese plate.
Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms with Bread Crumbs
Here, creamy chévre is stuffed into antioxidant-rich mushrooms and topped with crispy herbed bread crumbs.
Black Olive Tapenade with Figs and Mint
Jacques Pépin's sweet and tangy dip is ready in just 15 minutes.
Cool Ranch Kale Dip
Serve this tangy buttermilk dip with a mix of fresh crudité (such as cucumber spears, radishes, carrots, endive, etc.) and pita chips or seeded breadsticks. Wash and cut your veggies the day before and store in the fridge for easy day-of assembly.