Serving hors d’oeuvres is a wonderful way to entertain guests, but presenting these tiny delicacies can be tricky. Some have a tendency to slip to one side of a platter, while others have sauces that can leave unattractive traces on a tray. But using unusual ingredients like rock salt, banana leaves, dried chickpeas, seaweed, or peanuts can solve this problem. Not only will your display of hors d’oeuvres look more inviting; some of these ingredients will even help to keep food warm.
Banana leaves can be placed on a bamboo tray to present fried plantains with mango salsa. Widely available in Latin markets or at your local florist, banana leaves are used in Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia to wrap foods.
Rock salt is a perfect base for tiny baked potatoes served with crème fraîche, salmon roe, and chives. Heat the salt to keep the potatoes warm. You can leave the potatoes on the salt if you decide to reheat them. Just put them in the oven at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rest shrimp and raw oysters on a bed of salt and seaweed. The salt, unlike ice, will not melt, and the seaweed will keep the oysters sitting upright.
Arranged on a platter, chickpeas provide a natural-looking base for pita cups filled with red-pepper hummus. Similarly, peanuts are an ideal accompaniment to beef-satay skewers with peanut sauce. A bed of bright-green split peas also provides a richly colored backdrop for skewered salmon with citrus dipping sauce.