Beginner’s Choice: Little Wonders and Festive Food

Hors d’oeuvres, tapas, canapes and dim sum have something in common – they are “little dishes” or appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres and tapas are finger food. Some dim sum items are finger food, like char siew pao, but others require the use of chopsticks, so they can’t be called finger food.

“Hors d’oeuvres” translated literally means “outside the work” of the main meal. “Tapa” means cover or lid. The word “Canape” means a sofa. “Dim sum” translated literally means “touch the heart” or “touching heart”.

What do tapas have to do with a cover or a lid? Apparently, a slice of bread used to be used to cover a drink to stop flies and insects from getting into it.

What does a canape have to do with a sofa? It is because the topping of the canape sits on a small piece of bread or toast, like a man sitting on a sofa.

Appetizers are usually served with drinks before the main meal, but they can become a main meal in themselves. A dim sum meal consists of many small side dishes (some steamed and some fried) served with hot Chinese tea.

Since appetizers are usually served in small amounts, it is possible to use expensive ingredients and not blow the family food budget. It is also possible to combine expensive ingredients with less expensive ones and still create the impression of serving special festive food. For example, tapas can consist of bread with expensive Spanish cured meats like jamon Iberico, chorizo or jamon serrano and tortilla de patatas, which is a potato omelette.

Recently, I had to make tapas in a hurry and I found that they are very easy to put together in a short time, but it took time to plan the toppings and buy the ingredients because some of them were hard to find in Singapore.

I also made kuih pie tee (top-hat pastry) for a special occasion. It didn’t take me much time to make the filling, but it took me some time to look for the ready-made pastry shells.

I wanted to share the recipe for the filling:

Ingredients for filling

  • One Chinese sausage (sliced thinly)
  • Two small jicama or sengkuang (sweet turnip or yam bean) (grated)
  • Two carrots (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic (minced)
  • Coriander for garnishing
  • Chili for garnishing
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • A dash of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar


Put the thin slices of Chinese sausages in a wok without oil and stir them around until they are cooked. They should be a bit crispy. Remove from the wok and set aside.

  1. Fry the minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. Add the grated jicama and carrots and stir until cooked.
  3. Add the Chinese sausage slices and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar.
  4. The jicama, carrot and Chinese sausage filling should be moist and have a nice aroma of the fried sausages.
  5. Fill the kuih pie tee pastry cups with the filling and garnish with coriander and chili.

The kuih pie tee filling was cheap compared to the price of the pastry shells, but this appetizer is one that I will definitely make again, provided I can find the pastry shells.

Appetizer drinks

I also succeeded in making my first brew of Kombucha.

Elegant appetizers

Elena designs the most amazing finger food feasts, complete with décor. Recently, she designed a bento meal for a celebration of the feast of the guardian angels (2nd October). It was a deluxe bento, by my standards.

Ham,Cheese, Fruit and Nuts Platters by a Florist

Angeline sent photos of her appetizer platters. Since she is a florist, she added violets to her platters. I am still waiting for her article on flowers. (Hint, hint to Angeline)

Festive occasions

Elena and Angeline make an awesome team when they get together to create food and floral arrangements for special occasions.

Decorations should be beautiful. With Halloween coming up, you will understand my reason for saying so, as some decorations can be quite scary.

Just remember: “Angels and beauty go together, creating perfect harmony.”

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 3 Otober 2021

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