A party is a good time to show off your creativity and culinary prowess by offering a trip around the world through appetizers. And if you have little-to-no culinary prowess, use your creativity to carry the gathering by incorporating store-bought items or by making easier versions of more complicated appetizers. If, however, you are a kitchen goddess, enjoy the days leading up to your party and create appetizers that can be frozen or stored until the party. As you're cooking, take the opportunity to teach your children a little geography and cultural tidbits about the countries you are showcasing.
The Pacific Rim
Start your culinary adventures in the countries of the Pacific Rim. If you aren’t up to making your own dumplings or crab-stuffed stuffed wontons, purchase store-bought ones and then top with an orange marmalade-soy sauce drizzle right before serving. Twist up your favorite chicken wings recipe and baste them with a sweet and sour sauce instead. Spring rolls are healthier versions of egg rolls and are easily wrapped around shredded veggies and a peanut sauce. Tempura batter elevates the taste of shrimp and a simple honey-mustard sauce is a treat for kids. Offer adults the choice of a hot mustard sauce.
Fill clear shot glasses with a heady French onion soup made several days prior and reheated, then top with a couple of croutons and shredded gruyere cheese right before serving. Or saute some green beans and drizzle them with a creamy blue cheese dressing. Head over to Italy and whip up a tomato bruschetta that you dollop onto toasted baguette slices and drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette. Top baked shredded potato nests with finely ground and cooked Spanish chorizo; melted Manchego cheese holds the chorizo in place. Deviled eggs stuffed with a whipped, smoked salmon cream represent the Scandinavian set. Replace the mayonnaise with creamy salad dressing for some additional flavor in your deviled eggs.
Even if you haven’t made it south of the equator to Australia, you can still bring their cuisine into your home. Grilled corn crab cakes are served with lime wedges and a mild chile sauce. The kids might prefer their corn crab cakes with a creamy dressing. Create your own version of "Shrimp on the Barbie" and right before your guests arrive, either grill or saute shrimp threaded onto skewers. And if you want to Americanize your Australian offerings, serve onion straws with a bowl of cold, ranch dressing on the side.
South of the Border
It should be easy for American moms to represent their Mexican neighbors to the south. Forgo the expected nachos and instead, offer a delicious seven-layer dip served with a big bowl of warm tortilla chips. Mix some ranch-flavored dry mix into the sour cream for a delicious variation on traditional recipes. Offer adults a lime-infused ceviche in small bibb lettuce cups, and prepare a separate platter for kids with Mexican rice in the cups instead of spicy fish. No Mexican offering would be complete without ooey-gooey queso, and in fact, it will probably be the first thing that disappears from your table.
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