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Oscar entertaining made easy? It’s formulaic

Using our building block approach to Oscar party canapes, diners are able to select from a buffet of ingredients – from bases and spreads to toppings and garnishes – to design snacks that suit their preferences. (Associated Press)
Using our building block approach to Oscar party canapes, diners are able to select from a buffet of ingredients – from bases and spreads to toppings and garnishes – to design snacks that suit their preferences. (Associated Press)

Canapes may sound stuffy, but they actually are the ultimate in ease when it comes to party food. Plus, they look great and can be combined in endless ways to suit any taste.

So we created a simple formula for making canapes, dividing them into four components: bases, spreads, toppings and garnishes. For each canape, all you do is select one item from each category, then assemble. And the easiest way to assemble enough for a party is to set out all of your ingredients (clustered by category), then just start selecting and building.

If you’re planning on an Oscars viewing party, you might even consider turning the making of the canapes into a pre-party. Set out everything on the counter, pour some wine and invite a few guests to come early and help assemble (and sample, of course).

And obviously don’t feel locked into the ingredients we’ve included in these categories. Head to the grocer and see what inspires you. For example, we include recipes for mixing your own spreads, but to simplify you could grab prepared tzatziki, hummus, flavored cream cheese or cheese spreads.

Party Canapes

Each spread recipe makes enough to top 24 canapes. If you opt to use 24 of each canape base (for a total of 96 canapes), supplement the three spreads below with a purchased choice, such as hummus, tzatziki or flavored cream cheese.

For the bases:

24 multigrain crackers

24 thin slices of seedless cucumber

24 toasted baguette slices

24 purchased phyllo cups (found in the grocer’s freezer section)

For the spreads:

Garlic-herb cream cheese (recipe follows)

Zesty barbecue spread (recipe follows)

Orange sweet potato spread (recipe follows)

Hummus, tzatziki or flavored cream cheese, purchased

For the toppers:

Small cooked and peeled shrimp

Shredded cooked chicken

Halved cherry tomatoes

Crab meat

Small wedges of manchego cheese

For the garnishes:

Shaved parmesan cheese

Sliced green and black olives

Sliced hot peppers (such as piri piri or Peppadew)

Sliced scallions

To assemble the canapes, arrange the bases on a large serving tray. Top each with a small dollop of one of the spreads. Press one of the topping choices into the spread, then finish each with a garnish.

Yield: 96 canapes

Garlic-herb cream cheese

4 ounces softened cream cheese

2 tablespoons milk

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and milk until smooth. Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic.

Yield: Enough spread for 24 canapes

Zesty barbecue spread

3 tablespoons barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons spicy red pepper jelly

1/4 cup sour cream

Splash of hot sauce

In a small bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, red pepper jelly, sour cream and hot sauce.

Yield: Enough spread for 24 canapes

Orange sweet potato spread

1 medium sweet potato, microwaved until fork-tender

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Peel the sweet potato, then place it in a medium bowl and mash it. Stir in the orange marmalade and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.

Yield: Enough spread for 24 canapes



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