What the heckles is the ‘Party Recipe Test’? It is a rigorous mental test Miss Party runs on every recipe she considers serving at a party. A recipe MUST be able to come out with a better-than-average score on this test to even be considered getting invited to the party!
Hmmm…if it tastes good around the family dining table that should be good enough, right? Au contraire mon ami! Miss Party wants all Hostesses everywhere to do this mental test on each recipe before it makes it onto your Party Menu! If you do, you’ll end up with lots of compliments on a fabulous menu full of delicious, visually appealing, and sensible party foods that your guests thoroughly enjoy. Win-win!
Put each recipe in front of you that you’re considering for your Party Menu. For each of the 10 categories, give it a rating on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best score it could receive and 1, the lowest. The recipe should get a 3 or higher in every category to make the first cut, and a 4 or 5 in most categories to make it onto the Party Menu’s Starting Line-Up. Occasionally, a recipe just needs to be tweaked to be able to give it a higher score, or the recipe might be a special request by the Guest of Honor and you just have to serve it. Think long and hard about putting any recipe into the final Party Menu if it scores low in certain areas like last minute preparation. Miss Party knows it will take you a few minutes to do this mental exercise, but she guarantees you won’t be sorry you did. The bottom line is…you really don’t want to be sorry you didn’t!!
THE MISS PARTY RECIPE TEST:
1) EASE OF PREPARATION: Is the recipe fairly quick and relatively simple for the cook to prepare? Does it require any last minute preparation or assembly? Cut score by 2-3 points if it does, this could be a deal-breaker depending on your other pre-party responsibilities! Hopefully you have made the recipe before and know the answer, but at the very least read the preparation directions thoroughly. You don’t want any surprises!
2) THE MAKE-AHEAD “X” FACTOR: Can the recipe be prepared, partially prepared, or prepped the day before? A recipe you can make ahead will make your day! It is the Holy Grail of party planners everywhere! You may not be given this information upfront and have to do a dry run to see if the preparation can be split without degrading the final product or make a judgment call.
3) EXCEPTIONAL TASTE: Is the dish extremely tasty or at least a better-than-average version of a standard dish? Try each recipe you serve. If it’s not great, tweak it or keep looking. The internet is an invaluable resource for great recipes and finding the perfect (to you) version of a standard recipe.
4) CATER TO THE AUDIENCE: Plan your menu around your guests, or at least take them into account; adults will like something completely different than children. Also be clear of dietary or food allergy issues. If they aren’t known, label anything that could trigger a food allergy or choose to exclude recipes based on the ingredients. Include some vegetarian options for guests.
5) VISUAL APPEAL: Is the food recognizable to most guests? Will it appeal to a wide audience or does it have a narrow appeal of flavors? Does the food look attractive and appealing on a plate or platter? Will a guest choose it based on what he/she sees? Does it LOOK like it is a hassle to eat? (If the item looks messy to eat, a guest won’t choose it and take that risk in public no matter how good it tastes. If you have a low score here, can you tweak something to make the item easier to eat?
6) SOCIAL APPEAL: Will the food leave a guest’s breath with a strong or off-putting odor? Can you omit the offending ingredient without ruining the dish?
7) PORTION SIZE: If it is an Hors d’oeuvres or finger dessert, can it be consumed by most people in one bite? If it is 2 bites, will it crumble or break and leave the guest holding a mess or possibly staining their clothing as pieces fall? Can the presentation or how the piece is cut be tweaked so it can be consumed in one bite? If it is three bites, cut the size down or remove it from consideration. A guest isn’t trying to get full all at once, nor does a guest like everything they try. If something is one bite, they’ll give just about anything a try. Two bites, it’s a ‘maybe’. Big enough to require three bites, go back to the drawing board!
8) NO KNIFE REQUIRED: Is it easy for a guest to eat with their fingers? Does it require a plate and fork, but you don’t really want to go there? Can it be eaten easily while standing? Can it be cut into smaller bites with the side of a fork? A knife-required dish, is a deal-breaker if the guest is standing or holding their plate on their lap.
9) DIPS AND DRIPS: If this is a standing, cocktail party, does the item have an accompanying sauce or dip that is messy or drippy? Be sure to provide cocktail napkins nearby to facilitate eating the dipped item or needing to wipe the hands or clothing :( after eating. Also, consider beverages, especially in the summer when guests are likely to wear light clothing, or for a formal event, where one stain could ruin the evening.
10) LEAVE NO-THING BEHIND: Does the food (Hors d’oeuvre, Appetizer, or dessert) leave the guest holding something after eating it? A tail, skewer, mini cup and spoon, toothpick, plate and fork, or even a cocktail napkin? Take off 1 point, if so. You might want one or two items on a complete Menu that has a remnant, but don’t aggravate your guests repeatedly with the problem of looking for a waste can, bus tray or somewhere to pigeon-hole that unwanted item.