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Small Bites: Appetizers, Tapas, Mezes, and Canapes

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It's the season for parties, whether in your home, someone else's home, at work, or at church. One of my favorite party types is the tapas or meze party. These consist of lots of small bites and needn't be limited to traditional Spanish tapas or Greek mezes. But even for dinner parties and pot-lucks a selection of small bites is always welcome.

Thinking Small

Aside from these recipes, you might consider making mini, open-faced reubens using cocktail rye bread, corned beef, 1000-Island dressing, kraut, and Swiss cheese. Whole water chestnuts, wrapped in a short bacon strip and skewered with a toothpick, then baked until the bacon is done are amazingly good. And mixed, spiced nuts are always popular for munching. And one of my favorites (on particularly festive occasions) is oyster shooters:

Oyster Shooters
  • For each shooter:
  • 1 shot glass
  • 1 raw oyster
  • 1 tsp. cocktail sauce (commercial or make your own)
  • 1 Tbsp. vodka
Add the oyster to the glass and top with sauce and vodka. Shoot.

Some of these recipes can be made ahead, others not.

Smoked Salmon Bruschetta

Canape Spreads
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
These smoked salmon bruschetta can be prepped hours in advance and refrigerated, but are quick enough to make and serve in 15 minutes. The smoked salmon brings rich deep flavor, which the brie lightens up making it suitable for an appetizer. Dill and red onion are optional, but lend a remembrance of lox.

Saganaki (Fried Cheese): Small Bite, Big Taste

Saganaki
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
Saganaki sounds Japanese but is actually one of several Greek cheeses dredged in flour, fried in olive oil, and drizzled with lemon juice. It's a great appetizer and I often serve it at cocktail parties where it's always a surprise hit.

Tuna Deviled Eggs: A Spanish Tapas

Tuna Deviled Eggs
Kevin D Weeks
Deviled eggs are a popular component of cookouts and picnics - not to mention being a great snack at any time of year. They can be made a day or two in advance, are perfect for eating with your fingers, and are almost universally loved. The addition of tuna to these eggs may strike you as bizarre, but I first had them as a tapas in Spain and fell in love with them.

Hummus bi Tahini: A Middle Eastern Treat

Humus bi Tahini
Kevin D Weeks
Hummus bi Tahini (Chickpeas with Sesame Paste) is wildly popular throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. It has also long been one of my favorite snacks, and I have my recipe posted on the refrigerator so it's always handy. I like it best with warm pita but it's also great with raw carrots, celery, and cauliflower.

Proscuitto and Goat Cheese Crostini

Canape Spreads
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
Goat Cheese Crostini are an invention of mine. On my first visit to Europe in 1971 I found a cheese and ham spread in a tube that I loved. On my second trip in 1998 I rediscovered it and fell in love again. But this time, when I got home I recreated the delicacy. Spread on lightly toasted slices of baguette, or even on crackers, it's a great little munchie. And the spread keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Parmesan Crisps: Better than Crackers

Parmesan Crisps
Kevin D Weeks
This recipe for parmesan crisps couldn't be any simpler. And because it's so simple, the quality of the ingredients is essential: use genuine well-aged Parmigiano Reggiano (if you don't they won't be crisp but gummy instead) and shred it yourself, the rosemary should be freshly chopped, and the pepper just ground.

Fried Chickpeas (Ceci Fritos): Italian Munchies

Fried Chickpeas (Ceci Fritos)
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
These little nuggets are best straight out of the skillet, but they also keep for three days in an air-tight container so I often double the recipe, knowing I'll want another few peas tomorrow after work. And they sure are healthier than potato chips or cheese crackers when I need a mid-day snack.

Gougeres: Savory Puffs

Gougeres with Prosciutto
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
Gougeres are bite-size savory puff pastries generally made with cheese. Best of all, these can be frozen and reheated. The prosciutto is my own addition - and I really like it (think of ham and biscuits with a French accent

Buffalo Chicken Wings

There is a controversy about who actually invented these appetizers. The most told story is they were originally served at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, by the owner in 1964. Whatever the truth, this is the original Anchor Bar recipe. ~ Linda Larson, Busy Cooks Guide

Spiced Nuts

Use pecans, peanuts, cashews, or a mixture of nuts in this spiced nut recipe. ~ Diana Ratray, Southern Foods Guide

Patates Oftes: Appetizer Baked Potatoes

You won't find baked potatoes served as a side dish on a traditional Greek table (although they are slowly gaining favor in modern Greek cooking), but you will find them served as a meze (appetizer) with any of the fiery white Greek aperitifs, such as ouzo, raki, and tsipouro. Served with a dash of lemon juice, they are surprisingly delicious. ~ Nancy Gaifyllia, Greek Food Guide

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