This is one of my favorite times of the year…not because of the spring weather-which I do love-or because of spring break-which I don’t get to take-but because of what else happens. It is “Food Show Season”! This is, for those who aren’t familiar with it, the time of year when the major food suppliers, such as Sysco, US Foods, Maplevale Farms and Curtze and others have huge trade shows to showcase all of the new items their providers have to offer.
Food Brokers, the companies which market your favorite brands, will descend upon the banquet facility or hall chosen and set up rows upon rows of displays of all of their new products. It is an opportunity for them to highlight what is new in the industry, or the specific area, that they want us to think is the best thing since sliced white bread! I love to peruse the aisles of the shows, looking over the new items, and more often than not, the way they are presenting the food. Not only do you get to look at them, but you can TASTE, too! It is always a very filling experience if you go on an empty stomach.
Since I firmly believe that you eat with your eyes first, I am always looking for new and innovative ways to present food. Some of the brokers have really cleaver, artful or whimsical ways to “platescape” (simply put, place food on a plate). I have seen relatively simple foods look dramatic in the ways they are plated and presented. A slice of cake on a round white plate is ordinary, but the same slice of cake turned on it’s end to resemble a tower and surrounded by alternating colored gel swirls is another thing! A simple bowl of berries and fruit cubes is pretty ordinary, but serve them in a tall stemmed wine glass with a mint leaf just screams “eat me first!” Any one can throw together a burger and onions, but serve it in a tall basket with a the rings on a stick and it’s special.
I cook a really wide variety of menus, but everything does seem to get boring after a while. Food shows offer me a fresh perspective on what is new in the industry. Because they are typically representing national companies, the brokers may have things that have only been available in other parts of the country, but only now are available to us. Such is the case of many new appetizers I have encountered. The producers are putting fresh new spins on old and familiar foods. A big trend of late is to go small! Miniature foods are hot! Mini burgers and hot dogs, tiny muffaletta, mini desserts, you name it and they have been shrunken! With the popularity of Tappas and hors d’oeurves in general, it was only a matter of time before the market jumped on the band wagon and made it easier…no fuss no muss…buy it ready to serve !
Now I tend to like to cook from scratch as much as possible, so I really don’t purchase many of the premade pleasures I see, but I take a huge inventory of their ideas and make them myself! Fresh is always best, and for me, it is an easy trade off to take my time to produce the individual treats, rather than to spend the extra money to have someone else do it. Practice makes perfect, and with a little time, I can put all of their great ideas to work for me!
Bite Size Pies
1 package pre-made pie crust
1 can pie filling-any variety
1 T milk
Carefully remove from wrapping and unroll pie crust. Using a 2” round cookie cutter, cut circles of dough.
Mix egg and milk to form an egg wash. Lightly brush to tops of half of the circles you have cut.
Place 1 teaspoonful of filling on the circles that have not been egg washed. Place remaining circles, egg wash side down on top of filled circles. Using a fork, crimp around the edges to seal the filling in. Place the filled pies on a lightly greased baking tray.
Bake at 375* for 15-20 minutes, until pies are golden brown.