Vail Daily column: The art of the hors d’oeuvre |

Vail Daily column: The art of the hors d’oeuvre

Sue Barham
Simply Seasonal
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

The tree is trimmed. Candles are glowing. Presents are piled. Spread your good cheer by inviting some friends over for a toast. Celebrate with a cocktail party – you can dazzle your guests by following suggestions from Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale.

“A little planning is all it takes to produce some stunning hors d’oeuvres,” he said. “As you decide your menu, notice how much of a recipe can be prepared ahead of time. For instance, the ingredients for classic beef tartar can be measured and prepared the day before your party, and then the dish is assembled in moments.”

Plan your serving pieces ahead, too. This is a chance to get creative with shapes, colors, sizes. Think about the color of the food when choosing its dish, and remember that white serving pieces are always striking.

You can control the flow of your party by stationing foods like cheese and crackers, chip and dips, nibbles of nuts and crudite on small tables around the room. Then tray-pass your showstoppers like the smoked salmon rolls, beef tartar crisps and coconut shrimp satays. This allows you to mingle with everyone while you accept compliments on your artful hors d’oeuvres.

Coconut shrimp satay with ginger and chili sauce

Make shrimp mousse:

8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail off

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon curry paste

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

In a food processor, combine chilled ingredients and blend until smooth. Place the mousse in a pastry bag with a small round tip. Reserve.

Make shrimp satays:

16 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail off

2 cups panko bread crumbs

Skewer the shrimp in a tight “C” shape. Pipe enough mousse on one side of the shrimp to fully cover it. Coat with breadcrumbs. Repeat this process on the other side. Place in refrigerator until cold.

Make ginger and chili sauce:

1/2 cup minced ginger

3 cloves garlic minced

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons chili paste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

In a sauce pot combine all the ingredients except for the cornstarch and water. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes. Combine water and cornstarch. Bring the sauce back up to a boil and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer 1 minute. Cool sauce and reserve.


Preheat a fryer to 350°. Drop the breaded shrimp satays into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Pull the shrimp out and allow them to drain on paper towels about 1 minute. Arrange the shrimp on a platter with skewers facing out. Place sauce in a serving dish in center of platter. Serve immediately. Yield: 16 hors d’oeuvres

Smoked salmon rolls

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

8 ounces sliced smoked salmon

2 tablespoons small capers, drained

1 seedless cucumber, with peel, sliced into rounds the size of crackers

Combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, red onion, and basil in a bowl until completely blended. On a piece of plastic wrap, arrange the smoked salmon slices in a rectangle about 3 inches wide and 12 inches long, slightly overlapping each piece. Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture on the salmon, sprinkle with the capers, and roll tightly, enclosing in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to one day) till firm, then cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place each pinwheel atop a cucumber round to serve.

Yield: 24 Hors d’oeuvres.

Visit this story online at to see a recipe for classic beef tartar and parmesan crisps.

Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, ( at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, ( opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.


Classic beef tartar

1 pound beef tenderloin

2 tablespoons pasteurized egg yolks

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons capers, chopped

1 tablespoon cornichons, minced

1 tablespoon parsley, minced

Splash of Tabasco

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste

25 parmesan crisps

2 hard cooked eggs, whites chopped, yolks sieved

25 chives, sliced

Chop the beef fine as close to serving time as possible and place in mixing bowl. Add egg yolks, shallot, capers, cornichons, parsley, Tabasco, Worcestershire and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Mound 1/2 tablespoon tartar on a parmesan crisp and garnish with chopped egg and chives.

Yield: 25 hors d’oeuvres

Parmesan crisps

3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano

Freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, or cayenne, optional

Preheat the oven to 300°. Finely grate cheese into a small bowl. Using a tablespoon measure, place cheese in mounds on a greased parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Flatten out mounds with the back of a spoon, making sure mounds are at least 4 inches apart. Season with pepper, paprika, or cayenne. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden. Yield: 25.

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User