If you're hosting a brunch for your friends and family, plan on serving appetizers during the first hour of the party. Because many brunch dishes can be heavy -- a potential problem for guests who need to keep moving throughout the day -- brunch appetizers should be light. This allows everyone to save room for the main course.
Fruit is light and sweet, so it's the perfect way to start any brunch. A simple fruit platter looks attractive and is easy to serve. Arrange diced melons, oranges, pineapple and berries on a plate and set a caramel, yogurt or savory blue cheese dipping sauce in the middle of the plate. Avoid using bananas and apples, because they both start turning brown quickly. For an even sweeter treat, start the meal off with chocolate-dipped strawberries. It's never too early for dessert, and these treats set the tone for a decadent meal.
If guests arrive hungry, eating a small baked good can tide them over until it's time to sit down. Bake muffins or tarts using miniature muffin tins. The finished products will be two or three bites each, which is the appropriate size for an appetizer. Miniature cinnamon rolls will also be a sweet start to the meal. For a savory appetizer, bake up cheddar and chive biscuits. Cut the biscuit dough using a shot glass so the biscuits will be just the right size for an appetizer.
Seafood appetizers should be very light, and the seafood itself should be the star of the dish. Cover thin slices of cucumber with cream cheese and arrange small slices of smoked salmon on top. Shrimp dishes will also have guests flocking to the appetizer table. Wrap slices of prosciutto around pieces of shrimp, or stick with the classic dish of shrimp cocktail. Arrange shrimp on a platter around a bowl of cocktail sauce, or creamy dressing for the kids. Guests may fight to get in, so spread the shrimp out over several platters.
Crostini is just a fancy name for small pieces of bread that have been rubbed with olive oil and baked until crispy. Use French baguettes for these appetizers, since the small size guarantees that each piece is small enough to be an appropriate appetizer. Cover each piece of bread with a slice of prosciutto, a slice of apple and a chunk of gorgonzola cheese, or use sweet toppers. For a kid-friendly crostini, skip the olive oil and toast the bread rounds plain. Then spread fruit jam across each piece and top it with sauteed pieces of fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.
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