When I was a little girl, no food seemed quite as fancy as tiny hors d’oeuvres served on big platters. The is probably largely because we only did hors d’oeuvres for special occasions (i.e. Christmas and New Year’s Eve), so the presence of tiny food meant happy holidays, late nights, pretty clothes and sparkling cider. To a kiddo, it all felt pretty fancy pants.
Flash forward a decade or so, and there’s still something about tiny food that makes me feel like throwing on a skirt and snazzifying the hairdo (no, we’re not talking Super Hollywood Bump-It snazzifying — sheesh). But beyond the fancy feeling I get every time I eat a stuffed mushroom or a bite-sized quiche, there’s something so pure and happy that comes from noshing something so adorably small. Why is that? Is it because we love food that’s tiny? Or do we love food that makes us feel big? If we were giants, would we get a kick out of normal-sized hamburgers? Perhaps that’s why sliders have become so popular. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s why.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned since diving into the big wide world of culinary exploration is that when it comes to food, looks can be deceiving. Some of the simplest-looking dishes can be the most complicated to prepare, and some of the trickiest-looking can be made in a snap. And when you stumble upon the latter of the two, those are the recipes to stash in the ol’ cooking Rolodex — to be kept easily accessible and used often.
I found this recipe for mini apple and Brie quiche on the New York Times website a few weeks ago, and it’s one of those extraordinary dishes that packs simplicity, taste and eye candy all in one teeny tiny package. Check it out:
• 30 mini phyllo shells (two 1.9-ounce packages)
• 1/2 apple, peeled and diced (This doesn’t sound like much, but in those tiny phyllo shells, a little apple goes a long way.)
• 5 eggs
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• pinch of ground black pepper
• pinch of ground nutmeg
• 4 ounces Brie cheese (about half of a small wheel), cut into 30 pieces
Place phyllo shells on parchment-lined baking sheet, and divide apples among shells.
Whisk together eggs, mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl or measuring cup (something that can be used for pouring). Pour mixture over the apple in phyllo shells (don’t overfill!), and dot with Brie squares.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until egg is set and Brie is melted (phyllo shells will begin turning golden brown on edges). Cool slightly before serving.
In about half an hour from start to finish, you’re left with nearly three dozen mini quiches that will look pretty posh among the rest of your holiday spread. You can feel giant and genius all at the same time. Pretty nifty business.
So are you an hor d’oeuvres fan like us, or are tiny foods not your cup of tea? Any favorites that have become your best-kept party secret? Start spilling those figurative beans!