Wedding fare isn't known for being haute cuisine, but we beg to differ with this milestone meal's bad rap. Tasty and unexpected, these wedding reception treats run from the savory to the sweet. And they all have one thing in common: We'd nosh them again, with relish. See which dishes made our top 10, beginning on the next page.
We have four words for you: Espresso, chocolate and sea salt. Now imagine sampling each flavor from one of three individual ramekins brimming with crème brûlée. The custard, made of a simple base of sugar, cream and egg yolk, allowed its star ingredient to shine -- whether sweet or savory -- under a cap of caramelized sugar. Elegant and tasty, this crème brulee trio was a delightful way to end a wedding reception meal -- and one we still fondly recall.
Lobster Bisque en Croute was a refined, yet hearty, soup ideal for a starter course. The richly textured flavors of celery, onion, shallots, fish stock, herbs, white wine and brandy blended with a tomato-infused cream base and large chunks of lobster. In keeping with tradition, the soup was baked in a bowl topped with a golden brown puff pastry crust, which lent an unexpected lightness to this luscious dish.
This winter-white dessert tasted like summer and was beautiful enough to serve year-round. We loved the individual servings of coconut soufflé baked in clear glass jars for maximum eye appeal. The ingredients ranged from traditional soufflé starters like cream of tartar, flour and sugar to fresh coconut, lime juice and coconut milk. The sweetness wasn't all sugar, though. Coconut milk -- the decidedly non-dairy liquid from this tropical fruit -- lent a honeyed, yet light, luxury to each bite.
Shaved beef tenderloin on a bed of chickory and arugula layered onto a warm herb-encrusted crostini and topped with shaved reggiano cheese: There's nothing we didn't love about this equation. Especially because this starter was a perfectly portioned bite-sized temptation. So what if my tablemates were surprised to learn "carpaccio" referred to thinly sliced raw beef. The delicate cuts of quality tenderloin were wonderfully flavored, and best with these few, simple ingredients. Yum!
When we heard there was a candy bar, we wondered how the wedding planner was going to divvy it up between all the guests. Then we saw the candy "bar." This buffet-style arrangement offered DIY servings. We filled empty martini glasses with our favorite confections: chocolate candies, custom-wrapped mints bearing the bride and groom's insignia, Jelly Belly beans, and more -- some of the candies we hadn't seen since childhood. Debuted just as the reception came to a close, it was a sweet way to say goodbye to guests.
Citrus sorbet as gambit? Absolutely. It was certainly a conversation starter when each serving's miniature tiers mimicked the wedding cake design. And the piping of the happy couple's initials on the plate's edge was a nice touch. These delicate portions of cold citrus goodness were more than a good-looking diversion, though. The sorbet served as a palate cleanser after the meal and before the wedding cake.
We think shortbread cookies are tasty and not-too-sweet, which makes them the perfect accompaniment to an after-dinner espresso. So it was especially fun to discover these cookies make great wedding favors, too, thanks to a custom ceramic dough stamp outfitted with the bride and groom's monogram or other special design.
We were surprised to see lasagna on a wedding reception menu, but in retrospect, it made perfect sense. The dish is inexpensive, easy to assemble and a snap to reheat. What we loved, however, was the presentation: Large-scale cookie cutters gave these saucy noodles shape and form -- especially important for a dish not known for its plated discipline. Plus, coloring the pasta with carrot and beet puree took this hearty fare up a notch.
Pecan pie stays fresher than most meal-enders, so it wasn't entirely unexpected to dine on this low-fuss treat after a wedding. What we adored was the perfect size. Miniature pecan pies, served in their own pie pans, were the hit of the reception. Take-home bags customized with the bride and groom's initials meant the pies doubled as a party favor. What could have been better?
Sure, the design's the thing when it comes to wedding cakes. But guests still want it to taste good. Get the best of both worlds by pairing flavor and good looks -- and sampling our faves. Our summery pick was white cake layered with lemon curd and buttercream filling, topped with buttercream frosting. For an equally decadent feast for the eyes and palate, we loved a tiered cake coated in thick ganache with a dried coconut garnish. Two out-of-the-ordinary tastes that broke the traditional wedding cake mold.
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- De Cicco, Diana. "Go Raw and Exotic." March 13, 2009. (March 25, 2011) SheKnows.com.http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/808135/exotic-food-carpaccio-recipes
- Epicurious. "Lobster Bisque en Croute." (March 25, 2011) Epicurious.com. http://www.epicurus.com/food/cookbook/viewrecipe.php?id=8309&category=New%20Years
- Favor Ideas. "How Sweet It Is: Building the Candy Buffet of Your Dreams." (March 25, 2011)http://www.favorideas.com/wedding-blog/candy-buffet-ideas/
- Gourmet Sleuth. "Crème Brulee." (March 25, 2011) GourmetSleuth.com. http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Entertaining-Holidays-651/creme-brulee.aspx
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Amazing Wedding Cakes 101." (March 28, 2011) MarthaStewartWeddings.com.http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/amazing-cakes#slide_1
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Candies, Cakes and Cookies: Coconut Souffle." (March 23, 2011) MarthaStewartWeddings.com. http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/recipe/candies-cakes-and-cookies-coconut-souffle
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "50 Good Things to Eat and Drink at Your Wedding." (March 23, 2011) MarthaStewartWeddings.com. http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/photogallery/50-good-things-to-eat
- Miller, Darcy. "Darcy's Idea of the Day." (October 7, 2010) TheBridesGuide.com. http://thebridesguide.marthastewartweddings.com/2010/10/darcys-idea-of-the-day-250.html