April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Over the course of the year, I host various get-togethers with different themes and number of guests. The largest of these is my annual Channukah Open House, when about 150 friends drop in to spend time together and enjoy some yummy food and relaxed socializing. Although my friends are impressed at my ability to host such a large crowd, it is actually not so hard, and in fact, I do most of the work in one week preceding the party.

I have developed some rules about the food that is served at these parties:

1) It has to be finger foods, since there is no room in my house for all those people and tables and chairs.

2) It has to be varied, since I want there to be something that appeals to everyone.

3) It has to be easy to set out and platter, since I generally do not have any help for these parties.

4) It has to be things that I have not served at previous parties, since I want to give my guests something to talk about! In fact, I spend a significant amount of party prep time just skimming cookbooks and surfing cooking blogs for new ideas. Following are some of the more successful ideas that appeared at my party this year:

Cauliflower-Feta Fritters with Yogurt, Pomegranate

(adapted from smittenkitchen.com)

PARTY NOTES: I made these in advance and froze them. Before the party, I lay them out on a cookie sheet and reheated them in a 400° oven for about 7 minutes.

2 bags frozen cauliflower

1 large egg

1 garlic clove, minced

3 ounces crumbled feta (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

olive oil for frying

To serve

3/4 cup yogurt

handful pomegranate arils

Cook cauliflower in simmering salted water, uncovered, until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes, until firm but tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain well. In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together egg and garlic. Add cauliflower florets and mash with a potato masher until they’re crushed into pea-size. Sprinkle in feta and stir to combine egg mixture, cauliflower and feta. In a small dish, whisk flour, salt, pepper and baking powder until evenly combined. Sprinkle over cauliflower batter and stir just until combined.

Preheat oil in a frying pan. When it is hot, scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain. Once all fritters are cooked, mix yogurt with cumin, salt and pepper. Spread fritters on serving platter. Dollop each with yogurt and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.


(Adapted from mybakingadiction.com)

PARTY NOTES: The taco meat can be prepared the day before the party. Assembling the tacos is a great job for kids who want to help!

1 package soy crumbles (fake chopped meat)

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 bag Tostistos SCOOPS

1 container prepared guacamole

Shredded cheddar cheese

Warm the soy crumbles in a frying pan, add the taco seasoning and ¼ cup water and stir. To assemble the tacos, lay the SCOOPS out carefully on a platter. Place a spoonful of taco mix in each scoop, topped with a bit of guacamole and a sprinkling of cheese. Of course, you can add whatever toppings you would enjoy, such as salsa or sour cream.


PARTY NOTES: These can be prepared and plattered in the morning and kept covered in the fridge until the party. They will taste better from extra time marinating!

fresh mozzarella

basil leaves

grape tomatoes

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

small skewers

Cut mozzarella into small chunks. Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt, and pour over the mozzarella. Let the mixture sit for about half an hour. Then, simply assemble the skewers, sliding on a piece of mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a grape tomato.

By Chavie Hagler

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