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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Entertaining

TIP OF THE DAY: Pink Party Food

We’ve been invited to a “pink party” for Valentine’s Day: All the food and drink are in shades of pink, with some touches of deeper rose and red. If you want to hold your own party, menu options are below.

There’s also a National Pink Day on June 23rd, so we’ve been included some summery dishes.

You can make anything more pink with beet juice, red food color or rosy accents like pomegranate arils, raspberries and strawberries. You can make sauces and soups pinker with a touch of crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, or plain yogurt.

You are encouraged to wear something pink to the party. Owning nothing pink, we’re donning pink nail polish.

PINK PARTY MENU

PINK & RED COCKTAILS

  • Champagne cocktail with pink sparkling wine
  • Cosmopolitans
  • Pink Champagne and strawberry punch
  •  
    PINK & RED WINES

  • Pink sparkling wine (Yellowtail and Martini are great values)
  • Red Wine
  • Rosé
  •  

    lobster-bisque-mackenzieltd-230

    Lobster bisque. You can serve soup shooters on a buffet. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice spritzers (with white wine) or mocktails
  • Pomegranate Martini
  • Vodka and pink lemonade
  •  
    There are scores and scores of other pink cocktails—just search online.
     

    RED & PINK APPETIZERS

  • Bruschetta with strawberry-basil or tomato topping
  • Crab cocktail
  • Crudités: red bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, red Belgian endive, etc., with spicy pink dip (recipe below); you can include some celery, fennel or other pale vegetables for variety
  • Goat cheese log rolled in pink peppercorns
  • Hot dogs in jelly-mustard dip
  • Pink deviled eggs (soak peeled whole eggs in beet juice or food color)
  • Poached shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Red pepper dip
  • Salume platter
  • Shrimp spread with crackers
  • Shrimp tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax platter
  • Smoked salmon pinwheels or tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon rillettes
  • Strawberry bruschetta (recipe)
  • Taramasalata (Greek caviar dip) with crackers or party breads
  • Tuna sushi and spicy tuna rolls
  •  

    olive-oil-poached-salmon-pomwonderful-230

    Think pink with poached salmon. Photo
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    PINK & RED BUFFET
     
    PROTEINS & OTHER MAINS

  • Pasta in pink sauce
  • Poached salmon
  • Rare beef (we’re poaching a filet mignon)
  • Shrimp & strawberry salad (recipe in footnote* below)
  • Steak tartare or tuna tartare
  •  
    PINK & RED SIDES

  • Beet salad or pickled beets
  • Cherry tomato salad
  • Radicchio and radish salad with pickled red onions
  •  
    *Combine 3 cups cooked rice, 1/2 pound cooked, sliced shrimp and 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery in a large bowl. Make dressing with 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste. Dress the salad and then fold in 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries. Chill and serve on a bed of greens.

     

    PINK & RED SOUPS

  • Borscht (you can turn it from red to pink with sour cream)
  • Cream of tomato soup
  • Lobster or shrimp bisque
  • Red bell pepper purée
  • Red gazpacho
  • Tomato or watermelon gazpacho
  •  
    PINK & RED DESSERTS

  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Fresh strawberries and raspberries
  • Pears poached in red wine
  • Pink frosted cake or cake pops
  • Pink ice pops (freeze your own from cherry or pomegranate juice)
  • Raspberry or strawberry mousse
  • Red velvet cake, cupcakes, donuts, ice cream
  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Strawberry ice cream/cupcakes
  • Strawberry milkshake shooters
  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Watermelon: granita or fruit salad
  •  
    RECIPE: SPICY PINK DRESSING OR DIP

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise (full fat)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sherry wine (not cooking sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon, finely crushed or 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce sauce, or to taste
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring or beet juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX mayonnaise, sour cream, sherry, tarragon, garlic powder and hot sauce until well blended.

    2. ADD a few drops of food coloring to desired shade of pink. If the dressing is too thick, you can thin it with a small amount of milk. Chill well before serving.

    Recipe courtesy Food.com.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make An Edible Popcorn Bowl

    This serving bowl can be eaten when it’s empty. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    If you’re planning a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, need something to bring to a party or are thinking ahead to the Super Bowl, have fun with this idea from The Popcorn Board.

    The bowl is made from popcorn, which you then fill with more popcorn—or be contrarian and fill it with chips or pretzels.

    You can use different food coloring for different holidays, themes or teams.

    RECIPE: EDIBLE POPCORN PARTY BOWL

    Ingredients

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 drops food color, optional
  • Preparation

    1. SPRAY the inside of a large stainless steel bowl with cooking spray and similarly spray the outside of a second large stainless steel bowl; set aside. These 2 bowls will be used to form popcorn bowl at end of cooking time. (Note: If one bowl is smaller than the other, spray the outside of the smaller bowl.)

    2. SPRAY the inside of a third large bowl with cooking spray and place popped popcorn inside; set aside.

    3. STIR sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar and salt together in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and boil for 3 minutes to allow steam to wash down sides of pan.

    4. REMOVE pot lid and attach candy thermometer to pan. Allow mixture to boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 290°F. Stir in food color, if desired. Working quickly, pour syrup over popcorn and toss with a large spoon until popcorn is thoroughly coated.

    5. POUR popcorn mixture into first prepared bowl and use a spoon to push mixture evenly up onto sides of bowl. Firmly press the second prepared bowl onto popcorn to form popcorn bowl. Allow popcorn bowl to cool completely between stainless steel bowls.

    6. SERVE: Tip popcorn bowl out and place on platter. Fill with popcorn or other snacks to serve.

    Find more popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Fruit Bowl

    If you like to serve fruit at Christmas parties—a much better-for-you option than trays of sweets—serve it holiday-style, in this watermelon snowman.

    In this recipe, a medium watermelon and two small ones create two bowls and a head for the snowman—as well as supplying plenty of melon balls for a fruit salad. You can use the Watermelon Snowman Fruit Bowl in different ways:

  • 2 bowls of the same fruit salad
  • 1 bowl of fruit salad, 1 bowl of plain berries
  • 1 bowl of fruit or fruit salad, 1 bowl of dip or sauce
  •  
    The Snowman Fruit Bowl was designed by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, which has plenty of interesting recipes and watermelon carvings—everything from Angry Birds and Minions to a seasonal penguin.

     

    The most fun Christmas fruit bowl. Photo courtesy Watermelon.org.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON SNOWMAN

    Ingredients

  • 3 watermelons: 1 larger, 2 smaller
  • Fruit salad ingredients (your choice) in addition to the watermelon from the hollowed melons
  • Face decorations: dried apricots, carrot and blueberries as shown, or anything you like—radishes, kumquats, etc.
  • Twigs for arms
  • Optional scarf (you can use a red ribbon and fringe the ends)
  • Optional hat (check craft stores for a plastic toy hat, or make one from craft materials)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HALVE the large melon and one of the small melons. Scoop melon balls and reserve.

    2. CLEAN the leftover melon scraps from the two halves, leaving the white portion of the rind.

    3. FILL with fruit salad or other ingredients; make the face.

    4. MOVE to the serving table and add arms, hat and scarf.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Fruit Christmas Tree

    We always serve a fruit platter at parties, to provide a healthful option for those who are doing their best to steer clear of the cake and cookies.

    How about this creative alternative to a fruit platter?

    We found it on Dole’s Facebook page; it was previously pinned on Pinterest by Monique Douglas. Monique, you’ll have to tell us where you found it, so we can give proper credit.

    Starfruit (carambola) are perfect for the tree. If you can’t find any, you can cut the star and other “ornaments” from pineapple or melon. Consider using a melon baller to scoop the ornaments; and use small cookie cutters for other shapes.

    RECIPE: FRUIT CHRISTMAS TREE

    Ingredients

  • Black and red or green seedless grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Starfruit
  • Strawberries
  • Optional: cubes of cheese
  • Supplies: styrofoam cone*, plastic wrap, toothpicks
  •  

    A healthy holiday treat. Photo via Pinterest and Dole.

     
    *Available at florist supply shops or online, usually in sizes from 4″ through 15″. For a party, use the largest size; for a sit-down individual dessert, use the smallest size.
     
    Preparation

    1. COVER the styrofoam cone with plastic wrap.

    2. PREPARE fruits: wash, dry, cut. You can do this in advance on the day of serving, then store the fruits in the fridge, well wrapped so they don’t dry out.

    3. ARRANGE the fruits on the cone with toothpicks.

     
    CHEESE CHRISTMAS TREE

    Take a look at this stunning, easy-to-make cheese Christmas tree—it’s all cheese cubes and herbs.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & GIFT: Hot Chocolate On A Stick ~ Party Favor & Place Setting

    Christmas hot chocolate on a stick. Swirl
    it in milk or water. Photo courtesy The Ticket
    Kitchen.

     

    The Hot Chocolate On A Stick from The Ticket Kitchen was a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week earlier this year. Made from the finest French couverture chocolate, it creates a delicious and interactive cup of hot chocolate in milk or water.

    The Ticket Kitchen in San Francisco molds blocks of chocolate onto stirring sticks and serves them up in different flavors, currently:

  • Belgian Milk Chocolate
  • Bolivian Single Origin (66% semisweet)
  • French Truffle (dark chocolate)
  • Peanut Butter (dark chocolate with a peanut butter cup)
  • Peppermint (milk chocolate with a peppermint stick)
  • Salted Caramel (caramelly milk chocolate topped with sea salt)
  • Spiced Ginger (spiced dark chocolate with a piece of crystallized ginger)
  • 3 Chili (dark chocolate topped with a blend of ancho, cayenne and chipotle)
  • Vanilla Mint (milk chocolate with an Andes Mint)
  • Venezuela Single Origin (68% semisweet)
  •  

    They all make great gifts, but two of the flavors are perfect for holiday entertaining:

    Spiced Ginger Hot Chocolate on a Stick (60% Cacao). Rich dark chocolate is blended with ginger, cinnamon and seasonal spices to make a magnificient mulled mug of winter hot chocolate. You can nibble on the crystallized ginger garnish or blend it into the beverage. More information.

    Peppermint Hot Chocolate On A Stick. Finest Belgian milk chocolate is garnished with an old fashioned peppermint stick come together to make a perfect mug of peppermint hot chocolate. More information.

    Gift boxes are available in sets of 1, 2, 4, 5 or 12 sticks, with or without accoutrements such as mugs and handmade marshmallows.

    To see the full line, visit TheTicketKitchen.com.

     

    Add a name tag to use as a place setting and party favor. Look hard and you’ll see the piece of crystallized ginger on the Spiced Ginger flavor. The chocolate itself has gingerbread spices. Photo courtesy Ticket Kitchen.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Football & Baseball Cupcakes

    Sure, cupcakes are the rage; but what happens when you buy a dozen or two for entertaining?

    You pay a lot of money!

    The first time you bake a batch instead of buying them, you’ll save enough money to pay for two cupcake/muffin tins to make 24 cupcakes. This nonstick cupcake/muffin pan from Wilton has a snap-on cover, so you can store or transport the cupcakes without messing up the frosting.*

    You can also pick up sports-themed cupcake liners, in football or baseball.

    This recipe, from Kraft, can be adapted for football or baseball season. I takes just 20 minutes of prep time and the decorating is easy (the toughest part is keeping your hand steady to pike the stitching).

     

    Take me out to the ball game, or at least to in front of the TV. Change the decorating colors for football season. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     
    *That’s normal frosting, one inch or less in height. For piled-high frosting, you need special cupcake caddy/carrier.
     

    RECIPE: FOOTBALL OR BASEBALL CUPCAKES

    Ingredients For 24 Cupcakes

  • 1 package yellow cake mix (two layer size)
  • For Baseballs: 1 jar (3.25 oz.) white nonpareils (resource below)
  • For footballs 1 jar (3.25 oz.) orange nonpareils (resource below)
  • 1 tub (10.6 oz.) COOL WHIP Vanilla Whipped Frosting, thawed
  • For Baseballs: 1 tube (3.25 oz.) red decorating gel
  • For Footballs: 1 tube (3.25 oz.) white decorating gel
  •  

    You can also use cupcake liners to hold
    nuts or small candies. Photo courtesy
    BirthdayDirect.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. PREPARE cake batter and bake as directed on package to make 24 cupcakes. Cool cupcakes in their for pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks and cool completely.

    3. PLACE nonpareils in small bowl. Spread frosting onto cupcakes; dip tops, 1 at a time, in nonpareils.

    4. USE decorating gel to decorate cupcakes to resemble baseballs (two rows of red stitching, as shown in photo) or footballs (one row of white stitching).

     

    TO BUY NONPAREILS

    The normal size (spice jar) of nonpareils is four ounces and can cost $4.00 or more. But go to a baking supply store, and you can buy them in bulk for much less.

    If you don’t have a local retail source, just buy them on Amazon.com:

    A pound is just $4.95. Choose your color via the drop down menu on the page.

    In addition to all the basic colors, you can choose fall mix (orange, red, yellow); Christmas mix (red, white, green); Valentine mix (pink, red, white); St. Patrick’s mix (green and white); spring mix (pink, purple, white, yellow); summer mix (yellow and orange); and July 4th mix (red, white blue mix).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Quinoa Bar

    Last month we presented a series of tips to create exciting food bars for entertaining (links below). You can do smaller versions for the family dinner table.

    A few days ago, we discovered a delicious and nutritious quinoa bar at Fresh&Co., a fast-casual, seasonal and organic restaurant concept for health-conscious people who care as much about the quality as the taste. The company currently has eight locations in New York City. For menus and location information, visit:

    Quinoa is perhaps the most nutritious food on earth—a complete protein with more protein per serving than milk! So today’s tip is: for a healthy menu that’s fun and tasty, call on quinoa.

    Fresh&Co Executive Chef Jeremy Leech shared tips for creating a quinoa bar party at home (below); but here are the popular choices at the restaurant which provide a list of ingredients for your own quinoa bar:

     

    The Burrito Quinoa Bowl. Photo courtesy Fresh&Co | NYC.

     

  • Asian Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, smoked tofu, kale, daikon, red bell peppers, edamame, roasted brussels sprouts and scallions with sweet chili sauce
  • Bangkok Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, thai-spiced turkey, daikon, napa cabbage, carrots, broccoli, scallions and cilantro with soy ginger sauce
  • Burrito Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, roasted corn, tomatoes, kale, red beans, cilantro and tortilla strips with chipotle vinaigrette
  • Ginger Seitan Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, kale, kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes and chickpeas with roasted garlic vinaigrette, with grilled shrimp
  • Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, kale, seitan, white cabbage, carrots, daikon, broccoli, scallions, pickled ginger and cilantro with soy ginger sauce
  •  
    Chicken, smoked tofu, thai-spiced turkey and jumbo shrimp are options for any of the salads.

     

    The quinoa bar at Fresh&Co. Photo courtesy
    Fresh&Co | NYC.

     

    TIPS TO CREATE YOUR OWN QUINOA BAR

  • Use fresh and locally sourced products, whenever possible.
  • Have all your ingredients pre-cooked and prepped before guests arrive.
  • Provide a good variety of produce and meats.
  • Make vegans/vegetarians happy with a variety of fresh veggies, as well as some meat substitutes such as tofu or seitan.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw in less common ingredients, such as daikon and napa cabbage.
  • Offer a variety of vinaigrettes and sauces. Make or buy fun options such as chipotle vinaigrette, roasted garlic vinaigrette and sweet chili sauce.
  • Suggest combinations, like the ones served at Fresh&Co.
  •  
    ABOUT QUINOA

    High in the Andes Mountains, quinoa has been cultivated by the Incas for some 5,000 years. Along with corn and potatoes, it was the foundation of the Andean diet.

    Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wa or KEE-noo-ah, is an exceptionally nutritious supergrain (in fact, it’s the Quechua/Inca word for “mother grain” or “super grain”). It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain; it is not a member of the true grass family. Rather, it’s a broad-leafed, annual herb. The seeds—the part we eat*—are white, red or beige in color.

    Quinoa contains more protein—and higher-quality protein—than any other grain. A complete protein equivalent to milk, it contains all eight essential amino acids and a portfolio of vitamins and minerals: calcium, fiber, iron, lysine, magnesium, vitamins A, B and E and zinc. Everyone should eat more quinoa.

    Cooked quinoa is delicious and extremely versatile; it may be used in the place of almost any other grain, including rice, to make everything from appetizers to desserts (make quinoa pudding instead of rice pudding). It has a slight nutty flavor (red quinoa is the nuttiest), which makes it a good substitute for couscous or bulghur. It has a unique texture as well. When cooked, the thin germ circlet falls from the seed and remains crunchy while the pearly grain melts in the mouth.
     
    *The spinach-like leaves are equally nutritious and tasty, but they are rarely found outside of their growing area.

     
    MORE FOOD BAR IDEAS

  • Breakfast & Brunch Food Bars
  • Lunch & Dinner Food Bars
  • Dessert Food Bar Ideas
  • Drinks & Snacks Food Bar Ideas
  •   

    Comments

    COCKTAIL: The Petrossian Fleur De Vers

    Petrossian’s magnificent Fleur de Vers:
    suitable for a coronation or a special event
    for us commoners. Photo by Kimberly
    Craven | Petrossian.

     

    Thank goodness the Petrossian brothers, Melkoum and Mouchegh, moved to France from Iran in 1917, when their studies were interrupted by the Russian Revolution.

    Unable to gain entrance to French medical and law schools, the young men, who missed the caviar from home, became caviar importers. It was they who introduced caviar to Paris!

    Had Melkoum and Mouchegh become a doctor and a lawyer, their names would probably not be known by connoisseurs worldwide. Instead, the name Petrossian is sets the world standard in fine caviar and other delicacies.

    We are huge fans of Petrossian and urge anyone passing through Manhattan to treat themselves to a luxurious meal at the company’s Art Deco restaurant at Seventh Avenue and 58th Street, steps away from Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle and Central Park.

    There is a more casual café next door to the restaurant, where the restaurant’s beautiful pastries and savory delicacies (including caviar and foie gras) in an informal atmosphere.

     
    While caviar might seem like a luxury frozen in time, Petrossian is remarkable in its innovation, with:

  • Caviar Cubes to garnish cocktails;
  • Papierrusse, the caviar version of a sheet of the sushi seaweed wrapper, with numerous creative uses;
  • Caviar Cream, a heavenly garnish or spread;
  • The caviar “powder” that is used in the recipe below.
  •  
    This week we were invited to the restaurant and treated to a cocktail that is so fine (and memorable) that we wish we were getting married. Although most of us are probably not going to create it at home, it’s the perfect recipe to hand to the caterer for a special celebration. The name was inspired by fleur de sel, the finest French sea salt. We like to think of it as a bit of poetry (vers is French for verse or poetry).

     
    RECIPE: THE PETROSSIAN FLEUR DE VERS

    Ingredients For One Cocktail

  • 1-1/2 ounces Tanqueray or other fine gin
  • 3/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur*
  • 3/4 ounce green chartreuse†
  • 3.4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 drop rose water
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • 1 lemon boat (instructions below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Petrossian Caviar Powder, unground (whole bead—see below)
  •  
    *St. Germain is one of our favorite liqueurs. Don’t hesitate to buy a bottle. It makes a delicious cocktail with Champagne or any sparkling wine.

    †You can substitute yellow chartreuse if that’s what you have; see the note on chartreuse below.

     

     
    Preparation

    1. HALVE and juice the lemons. Set aside the juice and cut the juiced halves into three or four wedges, 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide. Remove all of the pulp and pith until you have a smooth “boat.”

    2. COMBINE the gin, elderflower liqueur, chartreuse, lemon juice and rose water. Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a Martini glass or Champagne flute or tulip.

    3. PLACE the caviar beads in the lemon boat and float atop the cocktail.

     
    WHAT IS CAVIAR POWDER?

    Pearls of fine caviar are dried via a proprietary technique that intensifies its flavor. The dried pearls are sold in a grinder that enables you to grind some caviar over your food (eggs, buttered toast, grilled fish or seafood, potatoes and pasta for starters). Or, you can open the grinder and sprinkle full pearls of the caviar on the food.

     

    In the background, the caviar grinders with a choice of colorful tops. In the foreground, the beads of caviar ready to be used whole as a garnish. Photo courtesy Petrossian.

     

    We’re on our fourth refill of Petrossian Caviar Powder, a unique (and more affordable) way to enjoy fine caviar. We gave it our Food Innovation Award of 2011.

    The grinder with 30 grams of caviar is $88.00; refills are $74.00. It’s a sure-to-enthrall gift for any caviar lover. Buy it at Petrossian.com.
     
    WHAT IS CHARTREUSE?

    Chartreuse, pronounced shahr-TROOZ, is a pale green or yellow liqueur made from brandy and aromatic herbs (green Chartreuse is aged with 130 different herbal extracts!). We prefer the original green Chartreuse, which has more complexity. Yellow chartreuse is a later recipe, lower in proof and a sweeter mix of herbs.

    The liqueur, first made by Carthusian Monks in the 1740s, is named after the Grande Chartreuse monastery, located in the Chartreuse Mountains in southeastern France (in the general region of Grenoble). The liqueur, in turn, gave its name to the startling greenish-yellow color.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Grandma’s Tea Cups

    Buy some cookies, get out the tea cups.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    If you’ve inherited a set of delicate tea cups or demitasse cups, don’t leave them in the back of the closet. They’re meant to be used and admired.

    The cups are long out of fashion, but you can bring them back. Start a tradition: An annual or bi-annual tea party.

    You don’t have to fuss: Just serve tea, coffee and cookies and invite as many friends as you have cups. The most laborious part of entertaining will be washing the cups.

    What if they break?

    Yes, it happens. But unless you want to sell the cups to a collector, they serve no purpose in deep storage. Nice things are meant to be used. Cups will break no matter how careful you try to be. Use them and enjoy them.

    (Our grandmother broke several of her own lovely cups. She glued them together and put them on display in the china cabinet. But she left more than enough intact, including the one in the photo.)

     
    JULES DESTROOPER COOKIES

    We’ve become very fond of these Belgian imports.

    You’ll only find a few of the company’s numerous cookie varieties in the U.S., but that’s plenty for a tea party.

    The selection includes Almond Florentines, Almond Thins, Belgian Chocolate Thins (shown in the photo, covered in dark, milk and white chocolate), Butter Crisps, Butter Waffles, Chocolate Covered Biscuits With Crispy Rice and Ginger Thins, among others.

    You don’t have to go out of your way to find them, either: We get ours at the local supermarket.

    Jules Destrooper was a trader in the second half of the 19th century. He imported spices from Africa and the Far East, and also used them to develop delicate cookie recipes. Biscuiterie Jules Destrooper was founded in 1886.

    For a product with a large production, distributed worldwide, the cookies are all natural and of very high quality—better than a lot of bakery cookies. While new recipes have been developed by the fourth generation of Destroopers, the recipes for the original cookies have never been changed.

    The box empties almost instantly at THE NIBBLE. Here’s the company website, which has some really interesting recipes for savory appetizers and hors d’oeuvre with a cookie base.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bloody Mary Drink Bar & Snacks Bar

    Here’s how we’d customize a spicy Bloody
    Mary. Photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish
    Restaurant | San Diego.

     

    This has been a week of food bar suggestions for entertaining:

  • Breakfast/Brunch Food Bars
  • Lunch/Dinner Food Bars
  • Dessert Food Bars
  •  
    Today we conclude with two ideas for a drinks bar and accompanying snacks.

    FOOD BAR IDEAS: BLOODY MARY BAR

    You have to think twice about a “mix your own” cocktail bar. Guests tend to over-pour, using too much liquor with resulting tipsiness, mess and expense. You have to “limit the exposure.”

    Instead, pre-mix the drinks in three versions: regular, spicy and virgin. Pre-rim the glasses with seasoned salt (see photo). The guests get to customize their garnishes. The most versatile cocktail to do this with is the Bloody Mary.

     

    Garnish with:

  • Pickled Vegetables: cocktail onions, cucumber pickles, dilly beans, gherkins, peppadew, pepperoncini, pickled asparagus, pickled carrots.
  • Vegetables: celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, fennel, green onion, snap peas.
  • More: bacon, cilantro, lemon/lime wedges, olives, parsley, shrimp.
  • Provide condiments for those who want to amp up the cracked pepper, horseradish, hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce.
     
    LEMONADE BAR

    A lemonade bar can appeal to kids and adults—especially when adults have the opportunity to add a shot to their drinks. In contrast to our earlier advice about letting people “mix their own,” this is a controlled situation where, at the end of the bar, people can add an optional shot. (Be sure to provide shot glasses for portion control.)

    Lemonade isn’t just for summer: Lemons are plentiful year-round, and lemonade fits in wherever cold drinks are served.

    Provide pitchers of both sweetened and unsweetened lemonade, so those who prefer noncaloric or low-glycemic sweeteners can sweeten their own.

    Or, you can make all of the lemonade unsweetened, and provide different syrups (with pumps!): simple syrup and two fruit-flavored syrups.

     

  • Fruit Juice: pomegranate juice; blueberry, peach, raspberry or strawberry purée.
  • Heat: Cayenne pepper and/or fresh ginger slices.
  • Herbs & Spices: basil, ginger, lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme.
  • Iced Tea: for an Arnold Palmer, regular and passion fruit tea.
  • Spirits: gin, tequila and/or vodka; Limoncello.
  • Sweeteners: agave, honey, non-caloric sweetener, simple syrup.
  • Garnishes: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, watermelon cubes.
  •  
    Don’t forget the ice!
     
    ICED TEA BAR

    While lemonade is more versatile for customizing, an iced tea bar can work just as well. Provide pitchers of brewed, unsweetened black, green, herbal and flavored iced teas with your choice of fixings from the Lemonade Bar menu, above.

     

    Customized peach lemonade. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

     
    Yes, do include lemonade for those Arnold Palmers!

    How about some snacks with those drinks?

    Create a customize-your-own-snack bar.
     
    FOOD BAR IDEAS: SNACKS

  • Candy Bar: This is a make-your-own party favor concept. You supply candy bags or boxes and guests fill it with their favorites. This is a nice way to end an event, too, by letting guests create their own party favor. Miniatures are perfect for this concept: individually wrapped, they keep things neat.
  • Popcorn Bar: Provide plain corn, cheese corn and kettle corn with savory and sweet mix-ins. Consider candy corn, Chex, chili flakes or cayenne, crumbled bacon, dill, chocolate chips, flavored oils (chili, garlic, truffle), grated Parmesan, gummies, jalapeño chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, mini peanut butter cups, mini pretzels, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins/Craisins, Reese’s Pieces, shredded Cheddar, etc.
  • Trail Mix Bar: Provide sandwich bags or snack bags so people can blend their own, from a selection of raisins and other dried fruits, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pretzel or sesame sticks, candy (chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces and seasonal choices like candy corn or jelly beans), breakfast cereals (Cheerios, Fruit Loops). Check out our full list of trail mix ingredients.
  •  
    Now: Pick a date and start pulling together the guest list.

      

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