Appetizer or Hors d’oeuvres?
What Are The Rules?

“The French term ‘hors d’œuvre’ (pronounced “or-derves”), which literally means “out of work” but translates to “outside the meal,” is a one-bite item that’s either stationary or passed and served separate from or prior to a meal…”

“Appetizers, on the other hand, appear as the first courses when seated at the table.”

So basically an appetizer is the first served course of a meal and an hors d’oeuvre is a snack served before the meal. And are salads and seafood cocktails considered appetizers? My research says that most times they are.

What about soup? “It might be called an appetizer. A normal portion of soup, though, would come in a larger cup or bowl. Either precedes the main course – unless the soup is the main course. If served in a multi-course meal, soup would come after the appetizer.” Wikipedia

Then Wikipedia says this – which works for me!!!

“A full course dinner is a dinner consisting of multiple dishes, or courses. In its simplest form, it can consist of three or four courses, such as appetizers, fish course, entrée, main course and dessert.”

Are you confused yet? Who knew? And some might say, who cares?!?!

Since doing formal dinners with defined individual courses is rare for me as a home cook, I say do whatever makes you and your guests happy. And, do what is logistically convenient for all depending on the number of guests you have, the space for serving, and the time you have for food prep and serving.

Maybe you can relate to this. Those who know me well know that it is very difficult, almost impossible, for me to prepare food and entertain at the same time. So, my best bet is to have the food I am serving 99% complete before my guests arrive. “Walking and Chewing Gum” is not my strong suit and I need to “Be Prepared” as I learned as a Girl Scout many years ago – reality isn’t always like this.

And I am sooooo not into food rules!!! (or formal etiquette for that matter) For me, I typically set out hors d’oeuvres to keep my guests food-busy and happy while I finish putting together the rest of the meal. And my meals for guests are almost always served all at once and not in defined, separate courses. The exception might be adding soup before the meal and dessert after the meal.

And then there are the popular potlucks where everyone shares in the cost and preparation of a shared meal. Ordinarily, I try not to orchestrate potluck meals and just let people bring what pleases them. If we should end up with all desserts – Oh Well! No rules for me.

So here are two of my new favorites – call them whatever you like!!!

Mini Tostada Bites with Chipotle Salmon and Guacamole

The Recipes

Sweets ‘n Swiss (Chard) Bites

1/2 c sliced green onions
3 cloves garlic
1 T Cumin
chipotle to taste
1/4 t pepper
3 c chard
2 C baked sweet potatoes (2 lrg potatoes)
2 T arrowroot powder
3 T coconut oil, divided
Slivered Parmesan pieces

Bake potatoes, cool and remove skins. Heat 1 T of oil and slightly sauté onions, garlic. Increase heat and add sliced/chopped chard. Add 1 T water and cover with a lid to steam until tender. Cool slightly. Stir potatoes into mixture and smash potatoes with a fork, add arrowroot powder to potatoes and mix. Mix everything thoroughly and add cumin and chipotle to taste, then salt and pepper. Shape into small balls and flatten slightly. Heat the coconut oil. Brown bites on the bottom. Serve with a dollop of beechup in center and a sliver of Parmesan cheese on top!

Admittedly these bites are not as easy to pick up as finger food as I would like, but the flavor outweighs the need for convenience in my opinion!!! This appetizer has wonderful complex flavors that are sure to please!

* For Beechup (Beetchup) recipe and more snack ideas, go to the link below or search for “Get Sauced” and/or “Guilty Pleasures”

Mini Tostada Bites with Chipotle Salmon and Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1/2 t Sea salt
1 lime, juiced
2 T minced red onion or thinly sliced green onion
1/2 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1-2 minced Serrano chilies, stems and seeds removed (or substitute dried chipotle pepper to taste)
2 T fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 t ground cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste


Chop avocados into a bowl and squeeze lime juice over the top. Mix slightly. Add all other ingredients and mix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I use plantain tortillas cut into wedges and fried until crisp. You can do the same with purchased corn tortillas or write to me for plantain tortilla recipe. Or try using packaged tortilla chips. Any of these will work fine.

Grilled Salmon
1/2 pound fresh salmon

Heat grill or griddle until very hot. Add coconut oil with a brush. Brush both sides of salmon with coconut oil. Sprinkle flesh side of salmon with dried, ground chipotle.

Put flesh side of salmon on the grill and leave until it starts to pull away from the grill ridges. Don’t force it and wait for the grill heat to separate the salmon from the grill. Turn to other side with skin side down and grill until you have the desired “doneness.”

If you don’t care about grill marks on the flesh side of the salmon, just grill on the skin side until done.

Assembly: On a large serving plate, arrange chips, add a small piece of salmon and a dollop of guacamole. Top with fresh sour cream if desired. Serve immediately.

Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall