IMG_0453Last weekend, we had a bunch of friends over for a little party. Too many people to put around a table, but it’s fun to get everybody together and not just in summer, when there’s plenty of space outside.

It only looks like a lot of glasses.

We kept it smaller than the Fête de la Lumière last year, inviting about 20 people. The menu was similar but hey, we can’t rest on our laurels! Make new friends but keep the old…and that goes for recipes, too.Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 9.41.26 PMAs usual, I made a spreadsheet. This is so helpful for making a shopping list. I duplicated last year’s, and just deleted or added dishes as needed. So the big work is the first time, and then you just have to tweak.

Chili…so delicious!

This time, the big course was vegetarian chili. I used Jamie Oliver’s recipe and it was a hit. I did not, however, roast the sweet potatoes. Are you kidding? Everybody knows chili is better on Day 2, so I made it the day before. I feared the sweet potatoes would be cooked to mush even if they went in raw. I doubled the recipe, and while we had leftovers, there wasn’t all that much extra–lunch for me and the kid for just two days after. The French famously dislike spicy food, and this wasn’t spicy at all; we had a bottle of Tabasco on the side for those who were adventurous.IMG_0450We served the chili with cornbread (3/4 cup butter; 2 eggs, 1.5 cups buttermilk mixed/ 1 cup cornmeal, 3/4 cup white flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt; one can (a little more than a cup) of corn. Mix the dry, mix the wet, mix the two together. Bake at 400F/200C for about 25 minutes–check halfway in and turn if one side is browning faster than the other). Big hit.

Deviled eggs, aka oeufs mimosa, and Thai chicken wings.
The Thai drumsticks…something a little offbeat is always welcome. 

As usual, there were deviled eggs, Thai chicken wings and drumsticks (baked in the oven at 400F/200C the day before, then reheated in batches) with peanut sauce, crudités with ranch dressing, and homemade hummus (1 big can of chickpeas, about 400 g, rinsed; one clove of garlic, some (maybe 1/4 cup?) olive oil, tahini (about 1/4 cup) and lemon juice to thin it out). The difference between homemade hummus and store-bought is night and day, and homemade is so easy.IMG_0439To go with the hummus, the kid made (at the last minute!) some rosemary cheese sablés. Kind of this recipe, but without the olives, which the kid hates, and instead with fresh rosemary from the garden. Doubled the recipe and they disappeared. They mostly were eaten plain, but they were available for the hummus, as were baguettes from the bakery.

Mystery meatballs. Mystery as in no recipe, just made on the fly.

I wanted to recreate the meatballs I made last year, which were a big hit, but I realized the recipe I had saved I didn’t use last time; I think I made something vaguely Italian. This time I had hoisin sauce, but I made up the recipe on the fly: ground pork, LOTS of fresh minced onion, a couple of eggs, some breadcrumbs to stick. The onion is essential for moist, tasty meatballs that don’t get hard. I baked the meatballs in the oven and didn’t even need to turn them. Bake them on a cookie sheet at 400F/200C only until they’re just cooked, then put them into a glass dish for reheating; they’ll brown up more.  A hot oven is good for cooking them fast without drying them out.

Meatballs and chicken, ready to be warmed in the oven.

Half the table was given over to charcuterie, per the Carnivore. The cheese assortment was barely touched in light of the rest of the bounty.IMG_0418Rather than cheese, people skipped straight to dessert: chocolate crinkle cookies, a nut sheet cake (cut into squares) and, of course, Christmas cookies. Our friend brought his grandma’s famous chocolate mousse. Quelle délice! And, when everybody could eat no more but didn’t want to leave, the clementines were passed around.

We do like to use real plates and silverware. It’s easier to hold, feels fancier and, after so many years with the same dishes, is more economical and environmental.IMG_0424I didn’t dress up, but I do have a fun dress that I got during the soldes a while back. It’s silk, so it’s light enough to wear in summer; it has sleeves, so it’s OK for winter. It’s so, so simple, yet…IMG_0427Do you see the pattern?IMG_0430Yes, tiny Eiffel towers and gold stars in a black sky of stars. So appropriate.

One of my favorite hostess gifts that people brought was this box of savory toast spreads. We already tested a couple of them and they are delicious. Bio, too (organic). IMG_0474I think I covered all the recipes, but if you have questions, let me know! Lots of good stuff, with big impact with little effort or budget.


46 thoughts on “Finger Food Feast

  1. Great menu! I especially love the chili, cornbread… with corn… and the rosemary cheese sablés but wish the recipe was in English! And your dress was perfect for the occasion! I enjoy knowing about your life there and what the French do and don’t like. I know you’ve given them many new things to consider. xoxox, Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here you go:
      125 g flour
      125 g butter softened to room temp
      80 g grated parmesan
      80 g black olives
      freshly ground pepper
      (we skipped the olives and added 2-3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, cut up)
      Mix the flour and butter with your fingertips to make a shaggy/sandy mix. Add the cheese, rosemary and pepper (go heavy on the pepper … or try it out and then decide whether you want to go heavy). Roll into a long sausage about 2-2.5 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into rounds and set on a cookie sheet far enough apart that they won’t stick (but they don’t expand very much). You can line the cookie sheet with parchment paper (I have silicone mats) but they don’t seem sticky. Bake at 360F/180C (preheated) for 8-10 minutes.
      I highly recommend the European way of measuring ingredients by weight. Easy, accurate and no measuring cups to clean up. Just put your mixing bowl on the scale and reset to zero after each ingredient.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great menu! I’ve helped my daughter with her soirées in Île de France, and I love how much les français enjoy cocktail parties, which are really wine and finger food parties. She tends to do more frenchified items (although with brownies!), so I love seeing your American adaptations. Yum. I’m inspired!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your table looked beautiful! I did something similar on a smaller scale, 8 people but it was a chili and toppings bar ( scallions, shredded cheddar, sour cream, fritos) and a cornbread with green chili’s in it. The best part is making it a day ahead like you did.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Toppings for chili are a good idea. I wasn’t sure our friends would even like it because the French don’t go for spicy foods (though I omitted chilies from the chili). I will serve it again and will do toppings—thanks for the tip. It’s going onto the spreadsheet.


  4. What a fantastic feast! You always make cooking for a crowd seem easy. I’m still recovering from having fourteen friends and family for lunch recently. I was hoping to make a Cassoulet but the OH prepared a goulash, in the end, which went down really well. An American friend, of my sister, gave us the chocolate crinkles recipe and I make them quite often.
    I love that dress!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh brother, THAT‘s a spread!!!! I LOVE big parties with buffet food but I have to admit that in our case it‘s often a ‚teamwork‘, everybody brings a ‚meal‘ to their liking – it always, without fail, works a treat, and I‘m always amazed how well it all levels out. Naturally, when it‘s at our place, my work is 4-5x more than for the invitees but it‘s really great fun. I wonder if you‘d have the cornbread thingie with European measures. I never get the cup business, and it‘s different from one country to the other. I once bought a set of ‚cup spoons‘ but when I used it it was for the wrong country (UK vs US?)…. I also greatly admire your Paris-frock, what a deal!!!! May I hope that the peanut sauce was NOT mixed right in with the chicken wings? I nearly choked when reading that bit – the wings look amazing! (Allergic to peanuts).
    Wishing you a wonderful, fun-filled, succesful and happy New Year! Who knows if we‘ll ever meet…. Kiki

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Forgot to mention the genius idea of a spreadsheet!!!! That‘s really something I should take over for my ‚feeding the ten thousand‘….. for years and years I had long lists which I crossed off when I had done ‚another‘ plate/meal/batch/cook but in the end it got too muddled up and anyway, it was more for the variety of meals than the ingredients as I‘m one of those useless but terribly inspired cooks who loves having cookbooks by the dozen but who cooks as per ‚what have I got in my fridge‘ or ‚what needs to be eaten soon‘ or ‚what‘s on special/promo/du marché‘….. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m in awe! If you invite me to your next party, I’d be happy to help serve or tend bar. I even know how to uncork sparkling wine properly….

    And the dress is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Did you buy or make the peanut sauce? I love it, its vietnamese as well as thai. I haven’t looked for a recipe, can you recomment one? I love finger food buffet type meals, very American you know. Not very French, but everyone regardless of their “home country” seems to like them.
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I made the sauce from a cookbook, Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens. 1 tbsp red curry paste, 1 tbsp roasted chili curry paste, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsps peanut butter, 1.5 cups coconut milk, 1 tbsp lemon or tamarind juice, 1 tsp salt. I just mixed some red curry paste, about double the peanut butter, no sugar, some lemon juice and the coconut milk. Stir everything together as well as possible (the peanut butter will mix better as it gets hot). Stir often so it doesn’t scorch. It’s easy enough to keep tasting and adjust accordingly. I thought the peanut butter was salty enough and didn’t add more.


    2. Wow, thank you very much for the recette. I have some Lidl peanut butter I can use. When they have their very funny American McKennedy week they have peanut butter among other things, most of which are not vaguely american……
      bonnie in provence

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a spread! I make my own veggie chilli all the time, one of my favourites for winter. I need to check out Jamie’s recipe.

    Funny what you said about French people not caring for spicy, my husband loves everything spicy. He even surprised the Chinese when living in Hong Kong. Maybe that is because he is from Nice? They have quite a few spicy dishes down there. Everything seems to have Harissa in it.

    The print on that dress is lovely!

    You throw quite the shindig.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first thing everybody asked me, about both the chili and the Thai chicken, was “is it spicy?” We did have a bottle of tabasco, which one guest used very liberally. So there are exceptions to the bland rule. But I’ve been struck by how many times people have remarked that they don’t like spicy food, which I never heard when living in, say, the U.S.


  10. Congrats! Looks fantastic! I will try the rosemary cheese sablés next time I invite friends. They loved the zucchini/cheese ones.
    As for the chocolate mousse, my mother prepared a killing chocolate mousse. I have her handwritten recipes, but havent’t tried to prepare it yet. Even if I do not eat meat, my friends always ask me to cook Goulash in winter. It is a family recipe and it is always a success.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Vegetarian goulash? Mmmmm….that sounds interesting. Didn’t even know it existed. Tomorrow night it’s grilled salmon & salad. We will be four friends. The temperature is 38*C right now, so no goulash jaja

    Liked by 1 person

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