During cocktail hour, encourage guests to pluck a pepper or two with an enticing display. Stick to mild varieties, since not everyone likes to feel the burn. Here, red Peppadews get stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese; roasted sweet yellow peppers and slivers of anchovy top crusty crostini; and blistered shishitos are sprinkled with sea-salt flakes.
For a finger-friendly take on classic beet and goat cheese salad, serve fried beet chips topped with a dollop of the tangy cheese and vinaigrette-laced micro greens. They make perfect hors d'oeuvres -- crispy instead of juicy beets means no one will be caught red-handed.
This Asian brittle combines sweet and hot flavors in each bite. Each sticky cluster includes almonds, cashews, sesame sticks, and wasabi peas and is spiced with ginger, crushed red pepper, and soy sauce. The intense flavors are an especially good match for a glass of cold beer.
Serve our Star Light Royale -- a delicious concoction of gin, lime juice, and Champagne topped off with a splash of grenadine for a pink glow (we dipped the rim in lime juice and fine sanding sugar for a 1-inch-wide band of sparkle) -- as a signature cocktail alongside a halved hard-boiled egg, de-yolked and filled with caviar.
Elevate the sophistication level of your cocktail hour menu with this ceviche -- a dish made with marinated raw fish (we added pink grapefruit in this version). The bay scallop ceviche will feel right at home served in a seashell, and you'll feel secure knowing that these particular shells are food-safe. White Irish scallop shells, Conch King.
If love is like a rose, then these mango tartlets resembling the romantic blooms are truly the food of love -- minus the thorns. The diminutive treats make for a light and fragrant bite during a cocktail hour, thanks to the airy pate brisee crust and a vanilla-infused filling of creme fraiche. Arrange strips of fruit to form "petals" and garnish with a mint leaf.