Grilled beef and horseradish-yogurt spread
on a baguette. Photo courtesy Nature’s
Even if you live in Maine, it’s still warm enough to grill outdoors. So the next time you have a cocktail party or a simple wine gathering, grill your hors d’oeuvre. (In French, “hors d’oeuvre” is used for both singular and plural forms of the noun. Americans who don’t know French add an “s” at the end.)
Start with canapés: finger foods composed of a base and topping, meant to be eaten in one bite. The name is the French word for sofa: the topping sits upon the “sofa.” The topping itself is called the “canopy.”
(Punsters: You can make a “couch potato” by topping the base with a potato-based food, such as cubed ham and potato salad with grainy mustard-mayonnaise and capers, or mashed potatoes mixed with salmon caviar.)
Miniature versions of grilled cheese (slice a regular sandwich into quarters) can be enhanced with chutney or any of these wonderful gourmet grilled cheese recipes. We’ve served several different grill cheese on the same tray: blue cheese, cheddar and smoked Gouda, for example.
To plan your grilled hors d’oeuvre, select a base, a spread (which acts as a flavorful binder between the base and the topping) and a “canopy.”
MIX & MATCH YOUR INGREDIENTS
Pick Your Base
There are many different bases for canapés, ranging from pastry shells to tortilla chips. Here’s the best selection for grilled canapés.
Blini or other mini pancakes, including potato pancakes
Crostini (grilled baguette slices) or grilled pita wedges or toast (multigrain, wheat or white)
Polenta (sliced from a preformed tube)
Pick Your Spread
Many canapés are simply a base and a spread, such as cheese, pâté or relish. With grilled canapes, a different type of spread serves as the binder between the base and the grilled “canopy.”
Aïoli, Baconaise or other flavored mayonnaise
Compound butter (so many delicious varieties)
Mustard (from Dijon, grainy mustard and honey mustard, see the different choices)
Seasoned Greek yogurt
Soft cheese: crème fraîche, fromage blanc, goat cheese, pimento cream cheese
Hors d’oeuvre on grilled pita wedges and grilled polenta rounds. Photo courtesy AddSomeLife.com.
Pick Your Canopy (Topping)
Grilled cheese (many gourmet variations)
Fish and seafood: oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp
Fruit-meat combinations, like prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese and pecans
Meats: beef, lamb or pork from the grill
Sausage, grilled and sliced (look for special flavors, like chicken basil)
Vegetables, grilled and sliced to fit on the base
Chopped fresh herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Lemon or lime zest
Sliced vegetables or fruits: capers, gherkins, grape tomato half, marinated mushrooms, olives, pickled onion half, pimento, radish, watercress
Spice: chili flakes, cracked black pepper
Pick A Garnish
Garnishes add another layer of flavor, along with color and visual appeal.
ANOTHER GRILLED OPTION: SKEWERS
Canapés aren’t the only hors d’oeuvre that can be grilled. Skewers, in fact, are the obvious choice.
Grilled chicken skewers with satay sauce
Mini kabobs: meat or tofu, vegetables, fruits
Shiitakes or assorted mushrooms
Shrimp wrapped in bacon
With a skewer instead of bread base, you save the carbs; but you often replace the calories with a dipping sauce.
You can pick up a book about grilled appetizers: Appetizers On The Grill.
Find more of our favorite hors d’oeuvre recipes.