Easy party bites

Party Food is plainly the consummate, almost exclusive, point of reference for any social occasion. To make party food quick and easy, good planning is required.

Party food is the sort of food creative people enjoys making. Whenever the word "party" is brought up their minds explode with themes, schemes, designs and recipes for small finger foods that can be swallowed in one go, delicious appetizers, snacks, and drinks. For those with no creative side, party food is typically time-consuming and expensive. Don't despair, all of us have inborn creativity for food and with good planning, anyone can produce a menu with party food that is simple to make and adjusted to budget. Simple doesn't mean dull. The key to serve delicious finger foods that your guests will genuinely like to eat is in the simplicity of the recipe and the quality of the ingredients, not the price.

For a cocktail hour or as accompaniment to party drinks, choose preferably savory recipes and stick to the quick and easy ones. Warm starters are perfect in the cooler months - just the food shouldn't be so hot when served that it might burn your guests - but take time. Dips or fresh salsa and tortilla chips may not be to everyone's taste. That's why; if you are in search of some appetizers to dish out for a meeting in the close future, or a few nibbles to go with drinks, use best the formula: bread, spread, main item, and garnish. Such a plain formula offers tremendous possibilities and can be the source of highly sophisticated combinations.

Bread - Wheat, rye. Can you imagine the possibilities? Choose whole wheat bread for a healthier option. Slice and trim the edges. Cut in 4 squares, 2 to 4 triangles or stripes. If you have time to spare, use a small cookie cutter to shape the bread into circles, seasonal shapes or funny ones - children love this. Toasted or as it is your choice. If you are in a hurry, there is always the option of ready-made toast or crackers.

Spread - Butter, savory butters, pate, or cream cheese, plain of flavored. If the party is for kids, stick to butter and cream cheese.

Main item - It can be any, meat, cheese, fish, caviar, or a seasoned paste. Caviar or smoked salmon have always been popular with adults and plain cooked ham is a favorite with kids, although those are not the only options.

Garnish - From simple chopped herbs or vegetables, to pickles, caviar, chutney, relish, or drizzle a little flavored oil.

Some ideas

Get a slice from a loaf, trim the edges and cut into four squares. For each piece of bread:

Spread butter. Top with 1 slice hard boiled egg and 1/2 anchovy fillet.

Spread butter. Top with 1 slice cucumber. Garnish with a little tzatziki.

Spread butter. Top with 1 slice salami. Garnish with thinly sliced onion.

Spread pesto. Top with 1 slice mozzarella cheese. Garnish with roasted red peppers.

Spread chicken liver pate. Top with 1 small slice cooked beet. Garnish with 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley.

Spread butter. Top with roast beef cut to size. Garnish with horseradish.

Spread cream cheese or, for a vegetarian option, spread vegetable margarine. Top with sliced tomato. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Spread butter. Top with sliced cheese. Garnish with apple and onion chutney.

Spread vegetable margarine. Top with 1 slice of boiled potato. Garnish with a few drops of garlic flavored oil and chopped parsley.

Spread butter or cream cheese. Top with smoked trout. Garnish with chopped capers.

Spread peanut butter. Top with sliced apple -rub lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Garnish with 1 teaspoon finely chopped white celery.

Skip any spread. Top with sliced avocado -rub with lemon juice to prevent discoloration, and a couple cooked peeled shrimp, or more, depending on size. Garnish with Marie Rose sauce.

Spread butter. Top with finely sliced cooked chicken. Garnish with a little curried mayonnaise with raisins.

For a quick Mediterranean appetizer, spread on the bread a salsa made by processing 1-2 medium sized tomatoes, peeled, 1 clove garlic, peeled, 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt in the blender. This one works better ion toasted bread.