Tasty nibbles are perfect for a drinks party.

Spring is around the corner. It's time to come out of hibernation and start mixing and mingling again. If you don't want to make a full-on dinner, put together some pass-around food and send out the invites.

Set out the parameters in your invitation, ie, "drinks and nibbles from 5.30-7.30pm", that way people don't come expecting dinner.

Five varieties of nibbles is enough for a couple of hours socialising. I always allow 1.5 pieces of each variety per person. Always have non-alcoholic drinks on offer and don't just buy a box of fruit juice. Sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus, a non-alcoholic punch or 'soft' cocktails will make a good impression. On that note, have a big jug of water and glasses on hand for those that want to pace their intake.

Finger food should be able to be eaten in no more than two bites. It should not be on the verge of falling apart and needs to be managed with one hand. Who hasn't stood around trying to hold a glass, take some food, not drop the wooden skewer from the last bite and then wonder what to do with a crumpled paper napkin? Put out an obvious tray or plate for those used napkins and skewers, and have extra napkins on hand.


Asian spoons with peking duck
Will give 30 serves. Gluten free.

You can buy these spoons at Asian warehouses for around 25c each. They look good and are easy to eat from.

Buy half a Chinese roasted duck from your local Chinese warehouse or restaurant, the ones you see hanging behind the servery. Grab a jar of Hoison sauce while you're there.

1 Make an Asia coleslaw by finely shredding quarter of a crisp green cabbage, a medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated, 4 spring onions, finely chopped, a thumb-size piece of root ginger, peeled and grated, half a cup of bean shoots, chopped.

2 Toss all this together and add a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce, the juice of one lemon or lime and a dash of sesame oil.

3 Shred the duck off the frame and chop it into small pieces.

4 Make a little pile of the slaw on the spoon and top this with the finely chopped duck. Dab a blob of Hoison sauce on to the duck and serve.

Hint: It is better to assemble these just before serving. Have the duck chopped and the coleslaw made. A little while before you are ready to dress the spoons, drain the coleslaw in a colander. This takes away any excess dressing and prevents a wet base to the duck.

Other canapes to try:
* Crostini with grilled haloumi and roasted pepper
* Mini lamb koftas, cucumber lemon yoghurt dip
* Blue cheese, roasted pear and walnuts on rye
* Spinach and parmesan quiches