We all know that first impressions count, so when it comes to planning an impressive dinner party don’t get so caught up in creating the perfect main course that you have barely five minutes to throw together a basic starter dish.
Here are five simple recipes for mouth-watering starters that are sure to impress, and will leave you plenty of time to get on with creating that delicious second dish...
1. Cucumber and Salmon Mousse Canapés (serves 4-5)
Ingredients: 1 large cucumber, 300ml double cream, 1 lemon, 1tsp gelatine powder, 100g smoked salmon, 1tsp capers, fresh dill to season
Pop 50ml of the cream into a small saucepan and grate over the zest from half the lemon. Sprinkle the gelatine powder over the top and leave for 5 minutes. Then heat on a low heat for a few minutes, stirring continuously, until the gelatine dissolves. Leave to stand until it reaches room temperature.
Finely chop the smoked salmon and stir into the gelatine mixture with the capers and a sprinkling of finely chopped dill. In a separate bowl, whip the rest of the cream until firm peaks form. Gently fold into the salmon mixture until blended well.
Slice the cucumber into thick, 1-inch sections and spoon out the centre to leave a miniature cucumber ‘bowl’. Spoon the salmon mixture into each piece of cucumber, top with freshly cut dill or the grated zest from the other half of your lemon to garnish, and leave in the fridge for at least an hour until firm.
2. Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)
Ingredients: 4 large tomatoes (not too soft), 400ml cottage cheese, 80ml cream cheese, 80ml toasted almond flakes, ? red bell pepper and fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste
Slice the top off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp – it’s best to do this over PVC tablecloths as things can get messy! Put half the pulp into a bowl (the other half is not needed) and mix with the cottage and cream cheeses.
Finely dice the pepper and mix that plus the almond flakes into the mixture. Season to taste with salt, pepper and finely chopped basil. Stuff each tomato with the mixture and warm under a medium-heat grill for 10 minutes.
To serve, place the un-cooked top back on and serve with a light salad and a sprinkling of almond flakes.
3. Herb and Cheese Balls (serves 6-8)
Ingredients: 240g cream cheese, 750ml grated cheddar cheese, 60ml sour cream, 125ml finely chopped spring onions, 80ml finely chopped herbs (parsley, dill or both)
Leave the cream cheese out of the fridge for around 30 minutes prior to starting, so that it can soften. Mix together the cream cheese, grated cheddar, sour cream and spring onions.
Use your hands to roll 12-14 balls. Lay out the chopped herbs on a surface – again, a wipe-clean tablecloth is a great idea, or use a large chopping board – and roll the balls in the herbs until covered.
Leave to harden in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Those are my top luxury dinner party recipes for mouth-watering hors d’?uvres that will take you no time at all to make, and your guests even less time to devour! Do you have any other winning appetizer recipes to share? Please leave a comment below.
Elise Leveque is a health food fanatic, always on the lookout for new recipes to try out – but they had better be delicious! He writes about his passion for Wipe Easy Tablecloths, whose products make it super quick and easy to clean the dining table after one of his infamous dinner parties.