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Party Appetizers with Panache

Elegant appetizers are those that made from upscale ingredients and served in a more formal setting than the casual dips and chips, mozzarella sticks, spring rolls and wings many hosts rely on when entertaining friends. Because guests will eat with their eyes as well, a wise host will enhance the inherently impressive nature of lobster, beef carpaccio and mousse by serving these morsels of culinary delight on porcelain plates, paired with silver flatware, white linen napkins and a crystal flute of chilled, dry champagne.

The lobster has an accepted reputation as an ingredient in any menu worthy of being described as “elegant,” and guests will feel pampered and quite special any time party givers can incorporate the tasty crustacean in a dinner party. Serving small amounts of lobster in appetizers creates an aura of elegance without the expense of using more of it as an entree. The Maine Lobster Council is eager to have you try their favorite shellfish and their informative website features a collection of recipes that seafood lovers should enjoy. The following recipes include adaptations of those, while other suggestions for elegant appetizers are versions of recipes collected from family members and friends.

Lobster Cerviche—Serves 8

Pair freshly steamed lobster with the bright flavors of citrus in this elegant appetizer served in a crystal martini glass.


2 lb lobster

2 shallots, finely minced

Tomato, finely diced

1 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced

2 grapefruits, cut into sections

2-3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 mango, finely diced

To steam lobster in large pot until the shell turns red, fill a large pot with 2-3 inches of water; bring water to a rolling boil and add lobster head first, one at a time. Cover pot and bring water back to a rolling boil. A 2 lb lobster will take about 12-15 minutes to cook. Use tongs to remove hot lobster from the pot immediately to prevent overcooking.

Cool the cooked lobster in an ice bath; remove the meat and chop into medium-sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine lobster with minced shallots, diced ripe tomato, lime juice, and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

For each serving: place 2 grapefruit segments in bottom of martini glass; add lobster mixture; garnish with finely sliced scallions and diced mango.

Beef Carpaccio—Serves 8

Choose Kobe beef sirloin or let your butcher advise you on the best available beef to use in this recipe. Wrap beef in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 hours for easier slicing. With a sharp knife, slice meat thinly. If necessary, cover the sliced beef with another sheet of plastic wrap and pound gently with a mallet until beef is approximately 1/8” thick before serving.


1 lb. beef tenderloin, sliced paper-thin

Mixed salad greens

Vinaigrette salad dressing

Parmesan, thinly shaved

Divide beef slices evenly among small plates; add a generous serving of mixed greens; drizzle vinaigrette over the plate and garnish with freshly shaved Parmesan.

Smoked Salmon Mousse—Serves 8

Impress your guests with this elegant, easy-to-prepare mousse; serve with an assortment of high quality whole wheat crackers.


1 tsp unflavored gelatin

3 tbsp cold water

4 oz smoked salmon, chopped

2 cup sour cream

2 tbsp white wine or champagne

Fresh dill or parsley, finely chopped

Sprinkle gelatin over 3 tbsp cold water in a small pan; let mixture stand for 5 minutes; then heat and stir until gelatin dissolves. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, combine salmon, sour cream, wine or champagne and pulse till smooth; while motor is running, pour in gelatin mixture and pulse briefly until combined.

Pour mixtures into 8 individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours until mousse is firm. Garnish with fresh dill or parsley and serve with assorted crackers.