Daniel Boulud's Top Tip For Beautifully Served Hors D'oeuvres

Though putting together platters of your favorite kinds of hors d'oeuvres can seem like an intimidating feat, Chef Daniel Boulud insists otherwise. Doilies and napkins are traditionally draped over trays and served alongside carefully plated hors d'oeuvres, but dried spices can offer a more unique and colorful presentation while keeping decorations refined and natural, Boulud told Food & Wine. Boulud suggests arranging herbs and spices onto dishes — twigs of rosemary and sage, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and juniper berries — to give assembled appetizers a complementary stage on which to shine. Boulud also encourages aspiring chefs to use ingredients such as shelled nuts and grated cheeses as the backdrop for canapés, while strips of seaweed and layers of thick, chunky salt pair well with hors d'oeuvres made with seafood elements.

Instead of stressing about fancy presentations and intricate designs, Boulud encourages at-home entertainers to keep similar appetizers together. Less is often more, especially when it comes to the kitchen.

Keeping plating natural and aesthetic

Boulud likes to focus on making simple hors d'oeuvres when entertaining guests. He cuts bread into round, bite-sized shapes to toast and tops the pieces with caviar, mousse, cheese, meats, fish, diced tomatoes, or pâté. The deliciously garnished discs are offered for guests to choose from and nibble as hunger pangs are kept at bay while the main course is prepared.

Whether or not you decide to lay hors d'oeuvres on top of gathered herbs and spices, you can use dried herbs to garnish bites and cut pieces of fresh dill and leaves of parsley to decorate the tops of individual servings. Creating dishes that are artfully displayed and visually appealing for guests as they arrive and enter your dining room can increase the "wow" factor of your pre-dinner offerings. Plus, attractive backdrops on which bite-sized pieces are presented can encourage guests to reach for more as you heat up and prepare subsequent courses to serve. Your serving platters will be emptied in no time.