Dainty and delectable wedding bites that are sure to be the hit of the reception
Story and photos by Andrea LeTard
Whether you’re hosting a bridal shower, couples shower, bachelorette party, or rehearsal dinner, there are two elements to making it successful: delicious food and elegance. As a personal chef and small-party caterer, I find the best way to combine the two is by serving hearty comfort food in a dainty way. You can do this by taking dishes you already cook regularly and creating small bites out of them. For instance, if there’s a go-to grilled fish dish you have for dinner weekly, you can cut a filet of fish into small pieces, grill each piece then skewer them with fresh grape tomatoes or a piece of fruit and serve with a honey mustard sauce or fruit chutney on the side – easy-peasy!
The two recipes I have included were both inspired by larger dishes I cook regularly – the honeycomb chicken is typically a full breast, and the pimento cheese poppers were created in a last-minute party bind when all I had in the fridge was leftover pimento cheese from a burger I cooked the night before. Both recipes are hearty, to please the hungry men of the party, yet refined, which will make all the Pinterest-planning women of the group ooh and aah.
Pimento Cheese Poppers
• 1 ½ cups leftover pimento cheese or store-bought
(I like Tom’s Tiny Kitchen found at most Kroger stores, it’s local and the most delicious)
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs – beaten
• 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp cayenne
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• Chives or parsley, for garnish – optional
1. Using your hands, roll pimento cheese into 1 inch balls and line on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to slightly firm. Take out 3 bowls and add flour to one, eggs to the other, and mix the panko, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne in the last one.
2. Heat about one inch of oil in a heavy bottom pan to 350 degrees. Working one at a time, dip pimento cheese balls lightly into the flour, the egg, then cover well with the panko mixture. Place back on the baking sheet until ready to fry. Fry five balls at a time in the oil for about three minutes or until golden, moving around in the oil to make sure all sides get fried. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve spaced out on a white platter with a green garnish such as chives or parsley.
Spicy Honeycomb Glazed Chicken Tenders
• 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins
• Kosher salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 tbsp hot sauce
• 1 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
• 1/4 cup honey
• 2 tbsp melted butter
• 1 tsp lemon
• 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
• Honeycomb cut into small pieces
(find at Whole Foods or specialty stores) – optional
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle chicken tenderloins liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce. In another shallow bowl, mix together the Panko, garlic powder, and cayenne. Dip each tenderloin into the egg mixture, then into the Panko, covering both sides well with the mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.
3. While chicken is baking, make the glaze. In a bowl, mix together the honey, melted butter, lemon juice, and red pepper flake. To serve, put chicken on decorative platters and drizzle the glaze over the top. Sprinkle pieces of honeycomb on top of the chicken and around the dish.
Smoked Oyster Cracker Bites
• 20-25 fancy, round crackers
• 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese — room temperature
• 1 (3 oz) package smoked oysters — drained and rinsed
• Hot pepper jelly
• Fresh dill
• Fleur de sel or Sea Salt
1. Spread a generous amount of cream cheese on each cracker and top with a single smoked oyster. If you don’t have enough oysters for each cracker, cut larger ones in half to make extra.
2. Spoon a large dollop of hot pepper jelly over each oyster. Top each with a sprig of dill and sprinkle of fleur de sel. Serve on a white platter for beautiful presentation.