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Thursday
Mar012012

Entertaining at home: Try a tasting party for spring gatherings  

A tasting party spread with serving pieces from Pier 1 ImportsIf you’re the mom who hosts the annual Easter Egg Hunt, consider putting a new spin on the fun by making it a spring party both parents and kids will enjoy.

We love this Easter-friendly tasting party spread, among the great entertaining ideas that can be found in The Idea Room at Pier1.com. Every host has worried about how much food to buy or make for a get-together, and the tasting party concept relieves some of that pressure by divvying each dish into small-portion servings. Here, the goal is to offer abundance in the exciting variety of dishes rather than in heaping portions (a concept that’s appealing for anyone counting the weeks until swimsuit season.  Stretching out a meal with bites of food also can mean eating less.).

Got a dozen guests coming? Buy or make showy foods that can be plated for 12 attractive servings in small dishes and purpose-made spoons. Yes, it’s a lot of dishes, but the impact will certainly be worth the effort for a special party. What I appreciate is that this spread does not require you to buy dozens of new pieces. Some of the foods are prepared or served in ramekins, shot glasses and other small items likely to be on hand already in a well-equipped kitchen. What’s fun is the special tasting spoon that could beautifully present a simple stuffed cherry tomato or an elegant cut of ceviche. Then there’s the mini trifle dish to fill with just enough cake, fruit and cream to indulge without guilt.

Cooks who need some inspiration will find it in recipes such as Texas party quiche, chocolate-peanut butter parfait, Caprese salad and more. The featured recipes for Pier 1’s entry on the Tasting Party line were created by Robert Zollweg. Creative director for the glassware maker Libbey, Zollweg has written a series of books featuring bite-size treats that can be served on Libbey’s own line of diminutive Just Tasting dishes.

For the most attractive presentation, some of the Pier 1 tasting pieces come in kits including trays. Of course, trays the host already has on hand can be used as well. While perfect for bridal and baby showers, cocktail parties and even Easter dinner, this is an idea that doesn’t need an occasion. And food that’s instantly portable will encourage lots of free-flow mingling and keep the host laughing right along with her guests.

Texas party quiche

Serve in 20 oven-safe 3-ounce ramekins

1 package refrigerator biscuitsTexas party quiche

5 eggs, beaten

1 cup cottage cheese

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

4 tbsp finely chopped green onions

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese,
optional

1 jar of salsa for topping,
optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate biscuits and cut in half horizontally, making 20 pieces of thin pastry. Place a piece of pastry into each ramekin. Press down. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until just brown and slightly puffy.

2. In a large bowl, combine beaten eggs and cottage cheese. Beat in flour, baking powder and melted butter. Stir in Monterey Jack cheese, green onions. Mix well. 

3. Pour mixture equally into the ramekins. Sprinkle a few pieces of cheddar cheese on top (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Serve warm, plain or with salsa on the side in a dip bowl.


Variations: You can add almost anything to this recipe: bacon, mushrooms, green pepper, etc. For a
lighter version, make it without the crust.

 Recipe by Robert Zollweg


For more tasting party theme ideas and recipes, look for Easy Entertaining in The Idea Room at Pier1.com and find “Your Tasting Party Invitation."

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