Miniature Foods For Holiday Fun

Miniature foods are all about the fun look. They’re trendy, cool, hip and one of the top culinary wedding trends for 2013.

by John D. Ivanko
PHOTO: John D. Ivanko/

Miniature foods are all about the fun look. They’re trendy, cool, hip and one of the top culinary wedding trends for 2013. Mini foods are particularly popular at catered events or holiday parties, where easy, bite-sized appetizers are ideal for mingling. Why not have some fun and use that box of debutante cups and assortment of shot glasses or small bowls for your own version of a mini treat?

You can make a mini-food dish from just about any recipe. In fact, the more familiar the food, the more attractive and fun it can be. Forget super-sizing the portions, popularized by the fast-food industry. Instead, serve up soup in debutante cups, French fries in shot glasses, a shrunken version of fish tacos, bite-sized s’mores on broken pieces of waffle cone, a slice from a tiny pie or mini berry milkshakes.

We love to make a miniature meal out of our favorite comfort-food combo: grilled cheese and tomato dill soup (featured in our Farmstead Chef cookbook). Instead of a full bowl of soup and a whole sandwich, we offer the soup in a tiny cup, with a slice or small triangle of grilled cheese sandwich set on top for dunking. We use our abundance of farm-fresh tomatoes and dill, plus our local brick or harvarti cheeses, factory-direct where we live in Monroe, Wis., for an uber-local version. If you make your own bread and cheese, even better!

You could think of miniature foods as serving up tapas, the Spanish culinary tradition of offering small bites of various dishes, both cold and hot, at cafés and bars. In contrast to tapas, however, miniature foods focus on the ability to have some fun with presentation.

Here’s our trick to carving up a tomato for our soup: Remove the skins and seeds so you’re left with the fruity flesh. (Who wants chewy chunks of tomato skin in their soup?) To peel a tomato, with a knife score an X on the bottom of each one, then toss them in a pot of boiling water for about 45 seconds until the skins loosen up. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon, then peel the skins off under cold running water. To remove the seeds, cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds with your fingers.

Recipe: Tomato Dill Soup

Yield:6 servings in a normal bowl, but a lot more, depending on the mini-size of your cups


  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T. butter
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 T. fresh dill, or 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • sprigs of fresh dill or parsley to garnish


In large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in butter for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, dill and salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Remove from heat and purée in food processor and return to saucepan. Fold in mayonnaise.

Serve hot or cold. Reheat the soup gently if served hot, garnished with dill or parsley sprinkled on top. Cover and chill overnight if served cold.

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