Listen, no one’s going to hate on you if you throw out some Cheetos, Chex Party Mix, or those boxed, frozen hors d'oeuvres for New Years Eve, but honestly, we think you can do better than that. Not because we don’t kind of enjoy frozen hors d'oeuvres (especially those little potato puffs!), but because we’ve got a bonafide French chef ready to talk you through your last minute party-planning crises. Sebastien Chamaret took a break from shucking oysters, braising short ribs and brulee-ing foie gras at his refined Williamsburg bistro Le Comptoir to share these easy yet elegant appetizer ideas. Cheetos begone!
Chef Sebastien Says: “Dips are always super easy to put together. Instead of chips, they can be served with toasted bread, like a baguette or country loaf, or warm pita.”
Chickpea Hummus: Sautee a few garlic cloves with thyme or rosemary in olive oil, and cool it down. In a food processor, combine canned chickpeas, flavored garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.
Crab Dip: Blend two cans of white beans in a food processor, then fold in crab meat, salt, cayenne pepper, Old Bay spice, lemon or lime juice, and any fresh herb like cilantro or mint.
Chef Sebastien Says: “As a French man who grow up on a dairy farm near Brittany, cheese is always my favorite. I like baked brie or goat cheese wrapped in puff pastry, which you can find in pretty much any supermarket.”
This is easy to prep in advance and bake when the guest arrives. I like to add flavors to it, like roasted garlic or shallots, or sautéed sliced apples or pears. Cut the wheel of Brie in half, stuff it with whatever you choose, and then wrap it up with the puff pastry sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until the puff pastry is toasted and brown.
Chef Sebastien Says: “One of my favorites is definitely dates or prunes wrapped up in bacon.”
Wrap each piece of dried fruit with a length of good bacon, and bake or broil them until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.
Chef Sebastien Says: “Oysters are very festive but can be overwhelming to open. If you bake them, they will open on their own.”
Place the oysters on a baking sheet over some aluminum foil to keep them flat and sturdy. Once they get hot they will open up, so now you just have to pop the lid. Prepare a mixture of sour cream, fine chopped shallots, dill and lemon juice, and place a small spoonful on each oyster. Bake for two more minutes and they will be ready and delicious. You can also add a splash of vodka or champagne, or make a parsley butter by combining soft butter, chopped shallots and garlic, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and anise liquor such as Pernod or Ricard.
Le Comptoir: 251 Grand St, (718) 486-3300