Hors d’oeuvre

Hors d’oeuvre

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Hors d’oeuvre means ‘outside the main body of work’, that is, outside the main part of the meal. The term is the French equivalent of ‘appetisers’: small portions of savoury food served at the table to introduce a lunch or dinner, or in another room with drinks before the meal. In English-speaking countries hors d’oeuvre are usually associated with a party or special occasion. But in France, the midday meal almost invariably begins with a slice of pâté, egg or fish mayonnaise, cold meat dressed with a piquant vinaigrette or les hors d’oeuvre variés – a plate of mixed hors d’oeuvre which displays the skill of the cook at transforming small quantities of food, including leftovers, into a delicious and thrifty first course.

Serving hors d’oeuvre: The main function of hors d’oeuvre is to delight and invite the diner, and their appearance is very important.

Slice meats thinly and overlap them neatly; very thin slices of meat such as prosciutto can be rolled or folded loosely into triangles.

Cut salad ingredients into uniform pieces or shreds.

Arrange hot pastries geometrically on a tray or pile them into a napkin-lined basket.

Sprinkle chopped herbs in a narrow strip down the centre of the dish or in a border round the edge, or scatter them lightly over the surface – never in damp clumps.

Add colour and pattern with tinned pimiento or anchovy strips, neatly crossed or arranged trellis-fashion.

Consider the balance of colour, texture and flavour; juicy red tomato, crisp green pepper, salty black olives; rich golden mayonnaise topped with piquant capers; a slice of pâté with a bright radish, still retaining some of its green leaves, and a few tiny gherkins (cornichons).

Avoid an over-contrived or zealously worked-on appearance – aim to make each arrangement light and fresh, as if it had just been imagined for the first time.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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