Cold Appetizer Recipes out all Day?
Ask-a-Caterer Replies to:

Silma from North Platte, Nebraska, who asked:

Silma writes: “After 14 months, she’s coming home from Afghanistan after serving in the Army. We’re having an all day party for everyone to come. I’d like to have cold appetizers out all day for most of the food, so that I don’t have to think about food and keep tending to it.

I just want to relax and celebrate our girl home safe! Do you have some cold appetizer recipes that can be out for a while and not need lots of attention? All suggestions appreciated. Thank you for your help.”

Ask-a-Caterer Replies: Hello Silma - Congrats to you and your family - and please offer our thanks to your girl for her service. What a great day it will be for you all!

The important thing is temperature. Any cold foods need to be kept at 40°f - which is the same as your refrigerator. Once you get that solved, cold foods can be served for a while, appetizers or whatever.

Here’s a great way to do it: Use a warmer as a cooler! This is the same sort of food warmer you’ve seen everywhere - the kind that uses sterno fuel and heats water to keep food warm. But you can lose the sterno and use them to keep foods cold as well.

Instead of using hot water in the bottom pan, fill it with ice instead. This will keep the food in the pan above nice and cool, great for extended party time.

They are not expensive - we sell the polished, nice looking unit through Amazon for under $30. You can also rent them, and WalMart sells the disposable version of Food Warmers for under $20. Hard to beat the deal.

But what it really means to you is a “set it and forget it” kind of party - where you can have food prepped up ahead of time, arranged in pans, stored in the refrigerator, and then put them out into the chilled servers as needed. You just keep an eye on the ice. Should be no problem.

With these cold servers, you’ve got lots of possibilities. We would suggest that you have a dip and chip bar, with several of our great Party Dips served in one of the coolers. Next to that, put out some good dippers, along with breads that can be sliced as needed.

Lunchmeats, cheeses, deli-style - all your favorites are easy to do this way, and we would have one really nice centerpiece, like our Seafood Cocktail Platter that everyone just loves.

A useful caterer’s trick for fruit salad that needs to be out for a while is to add a flavored liqueur to the fresh fruit, like an orange cognac or peach brandy. This gives a nice flavor to the fruit, and also slows the bacteria growth with some alcohol.

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