Keep Your Shrimp Platter Going All Night Long With A Festive Ice Disguise

If you are passionate about food or cooking, then hosting friends and family is a wonderful way to get into the kitchen and get creative. Maybe your shrimp cocktail is famous, or maybe there's a new deviled egg recipe you've been wanting to try. Perhaps you're known for your killer spinach artichoke dip. If you're spending time cooking you want to make sure the food you offer is served just as you intend it to be.

Often times when you're serving cold appetizers, there's concern about them warming up to an unsafe temperature. Foods like shrimp, eggs, and even dairy-based dips can become unsafe if they sit out for too long. If you're only serving appetizers for a short time before moving to a main course, then you might not have to worry as much, but if your event is an evening filled with heavy apps as the only food offering then it's important to make sure that apps meant to be served cold stay that way. While you can keep the bulk of the dish in the refrigerator and then put out smaller amounts every so often, most hosts want to be able to enjoy their party. To keep your cold appetizers cold you can actually mask a bowl of ice with lettuce or other edible greenery and use that to present your cold appetizers.  

How to keep apps cold while looking cool

If you've ever attended a wedding or catered event, we'd bet you're familiar with the chafing dish that helps keep hot food hot, but what about a serving dish that keeps food cold? Unfortunately, it's a bit rarer to find that, but it shouldn't be. Keeping cold food cold is important, especially during the warmer and more humid months of the year. A shrimp cocktail is an absolute delight the moment it hits the table, but an hour later? Not so much. So how can you avoid ruining the food that you've worked so hard to prepare and present? 

You'll need a few things. A bowl or small casserole dish, a couple of large freezer-safe ziplock bags, a decent amount of ice, and some edible greens. First, fill the ziplock bags with ice but not too full. You want them full enough that you can zip them with ease without the risk of them popping open. Next lay the bag of ice in the bowl, or casserole dish, and then arrange your greens on top of that to create a beautiful nest where you can present your cold appetizers. Any kind of large edible green will work nicely, like bibb or butter lettuce. You can also use more interesting-looking greens like red cabbage leaves, kale, rainbow Swiss chard, or even collard greens. Whatever you use you want it to lay flat, especially if you'll be placing individual shrimp or deviled eggs on top of it.

Why food safety matters

If you're serving any kind of food that can grow bacteria and become dangerous to eat when it's left out for too long then you want to keep it cold. While chips, crackers, and most cut veggies can stand to be out a bit longer, shrimp shouldn't be out for longer than two hours. If you're outside and temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it's a good rule of thumb to only leave shrimp out for an hour or less. This rule still applies even if you're serving foods over ice. Unfortunately, there's just no substitute for your refrigerator.

If you want to keep your cold appetizers going all night long then serve them in batches, refreshing at the two-hour mark. The ice-disguised serving tray will keep them nice and cold, so your guests can enjoy them safely. If you're hosting an event outside on a hot day, it's always best to err on the side of safety. You can put the cold apps out at the start of the event and inform your guests that there's only a small amount of them so enjoy them while they're fresh. Or just stick to non-perishable foods that are safer to leave out in the sun.