Throw a Casual Soirée

 

Strawberry Pie
Ingredients for Deep-Dish Strawberry Dream Pie. Photography by Rebecca Terrell

 

Soirée is my favorite word. Not because it rolls off the tongue in the most graceful fashion (which it does by the way), but because it has a classy, almost old-fashioned demeanor to it. When I hear the word, I picture sophisticated grown-ups stirring up deep conversations and popping bottles of bubbly.

The idea of a classy dinner party excites me. I love the idea of gathering together in fellowship snacking on tea sandwiches and tiny treats. But instead of white linens, men in bowties and expensive escargot passed around by butlers, I picture a whimsical affair with lights stringing through the trees and lace draped along the tablescape.

A soirée no longer has to mean an over-the-top event. It can mean a casual evening filled with bite-sized delights and cheese plates, with a corn hole game in the backyard. It can mean that you skip the expenses and focus on planning the perfect party.

Personal touches can turn a typical social gathering into a magical soiree. One way to do this is through the food. Rebecca Longshore, the assistant editor of Cooking Light, shared her favorite recipes that are simple, yet elegant.

 “In my opinion, bite-size foods and mini dishes look really classy at a party,” says Longshore. “You can turn almost any appetizer or dessert recipe into a single-serving treat.” So skip the catering and try some of these chic dinner dishes for your next celebration.

Deep-Dish Strawberry Ice Dream Pie

 “With a chocolate crush, strawberry mousse filling and fresh seasonal berries to top it off, this gorgeous pie tastes even better than it looks. Plus, you can make it in advantage and freeze overnight,” says Longshore.

What you’ll need:

  • 30 chocolate wafers
  • 5 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Dash of salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups frozen low-fat whipped topping, thawed

How to do it:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Finely grind wafers in a food processor. Add butter, egg white, and salt; process until well combined.
3. Gently press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9.5-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray.
4. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Freeze 30 minutes or until well chilled.
5. Slice 1 cup of strawberries; place in large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon strawberry jam and lemon juice; gently stir. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon mixture into prepared crust, smoothing top. Freeze 4 hours or up to overnight.
6. Quarter remaining strawberries lengthwise; combine with remaining 3 tablespoons jam. Arrange mixture over pie. Serve immediately.

Charred Red Online Dip

 “This simple, refreshing onion dip pairs perfectly with baked sweet potato chips and is guaranteed to be a crowd favorite,” says Longshore.

What you’ll need:
1 cup chopped grilled red onion
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Baked sweet potato chips

How to do it:
1. Combine onion, yogurt, sour cream, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ground red pepper, and salt.
2. Serve with baked sweet potato chips.

Mushroom, Gruyere, and Spinach Quiche

 “A cheesy, spinach quiche partners beautifully with a bright, citrusy salad to serve at a spring party,” says Longshore.

What you’ll need:
5.6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ice water
Cooking spray
3 center-cut bacon slices
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 (8-ounce) package pre-sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 cups packed baby spinach
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
2 ounces cave-aged Gruyère cheese, grated

 How to do it:
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine. Combine oil and 3 tablespoons water. With processor on, slowly add oil mixture through food chute; process until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 1 minute. Press dough into a 5-inch disk; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 20 minutes.
3. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove weights and foil; bake an additional 2 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
5. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings; crumble. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
6. Place milk, half-and-half, eggs, egg white, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender; process until smooth.
7. Arrange half of cheese over bottom of crust; top with spinach mixture and remaining half of cheese. Carefully pour milk mixture over cheese. Sprinkle with bacon. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until filling is set. Let stand 10 minutes.

Like these recipes? Share your creations with us on Instagram at @exodusmagazine.. And be sure to be on the lookout for more mini-dishes in our print edition of Exodus Magazine, coming soon.