Tiffani Thiessen's Secret To The Perfect Dinner Party

Photographed by Anais & Dax.
You might still think of her as Bayside's high-waisted-pant-loving queen bee, Kelly Kapowski. Or, 90210's resident bad girl, Valerie Malone. Personally, we never felt like she got enough screen time as Agent Burke's super devoted wife on White Collar. Tiffani Thiessen is one of those celebrities whom you feel like you've been friends with forever — and, thanks to her new series, Dinner At Tiffani's, you're about to see a much more personal side of the 41-year-old star.

"I wanted to show how food — sitting across from somebody and sharing a meal — can connect people and create memories, and how wonderful that is," Thiessen tells us. "We live in a society where everything is so fast-paced and we're always on our phones. We can't connect as easily. Sharing a meal is one of those places where we can still do that."

Thiessen's love of cooking started at a very young age (her mom, grandmother, and aunts are all pros in the kitchen), and expanded as she began to travel the world as an actress. But, it was the dinners that she and husband Brady Smith would regularly host for friends that she says inspired  her to pitch her idea for the show to Cooking Channel. Having the perfect name for it already figured out? That was just an added bonus.
Photographed by Anais & Dax.


While Dinner At Tiffani's will feature plenty of her famous friends (the pilot alone has Nathan Fillion, Willie Garson, and Lindsay Price), Thiessen says that a guest appearance by her former 90210 co-star Jason Priestley and his wife, Naomi, has been one of her favorite moments thus far. "We got married nine days apart, so I wanted to recreate the menu that [Brady and I] served at our wedding," she tells us. "It was perfect. It ended up being a really beautiful episode."

When it comes to throwing a dinner party, Thiessen stresses that a little pre-planning can make all the difference. "Maybe it's just my Type A personality, but a timeline is extremely important," she says. "It makes things go easy. It gives you a breakdown of what to do when, so you're not panicked or late, because I think anytime you're stressed for a dinner party, that's a disaster."

And, don't go crazy, she adds. "Keep the menu simple. Keep the decor simple. It's all about the connection that you have with your guests. It doesn't have to be about the elaborate menu or the elaborate flower display or the china that you're using. It's about people."

Having a few no-fail recipes in your back pocket doesn't hurt, either. Below, Thiessen shares a few of her absolute favorites.

Dinner At Tiffani's premieres Wednesday, February 25 at 10 p.m. on Cooking Channel.
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Photographed by Anais & Dax.

Potato, Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion & Cherry Tomato Pizza
Serves 2


Ingredients
1 cooked homemade Grilled Pizza (recipe follows)
1 large onion, caramelized
1 1/2 marble red potatoes, cooked and halved
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions
1. Preheat an oven to 400°F. 

2. Load the pizzas with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and goat cheese.

3. Add the loaded pizza to the oven. Cook until the cheese melts, 6 to 8 minutes.




Homemade Grilled Pizza Dough


Ingredients
1 packet dry active yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil plus more for coating the bowl

Instructions
1. In a small bowl combine the yeast with the warm water and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes until it begins to foam.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt together, and then make a well in the center.

3. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Using a fork, incorporate the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until a dough forms.

4. On a lightly floured surface, continue to work and then knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.

5. Lightly coat a clean bowl with additional olive oil and then add the dough, turning once to coat the dough in oil. Cover and set in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

6. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat and an oven to 400°F. 

7. When ready to use, cut the dough in half and work with one half at a time. Stretch the dough into a 14-inch oval.

8. Add the dough to the grill, cook until stiff, about 1 minute.

9. Flip and cook on the other side until grill marks form and the dough is completely cooked through, about 1 more minute.

10. Remove from heat and place the pizza dough on a baking sheet.
Photographed by Anais & Dax.


Ricotta, Arugula, Grapes, Pine Nuts, & Lemon Zest

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 cooked homemade Grilled Pizza Dough (recipe above)
1/2 cup ricotta
3 oz baby arugula
1/2 cup red grapes, sliced in half
1 lemon, zested
Lemon oil, for drizzling

Instructions
1. Preheat an oven to 400°F. 

2. Once the dough is grilled, spread only the ricotta on the pizza. Then, place it in the oven and cook until the ricotta is warmed throughout, about 6 minutes.

3. Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the arugula, grapes, lemon zest.

4. Drizzle with lemon oil.
Photographed by Anais & Dax.


Blood Orange Soda Sangria

Serves 8 to 10


Ingredients
1 750-ml bottle of crisp white wine, such as a Sancerre
1 24 1/2-oz bottle blood orange Italian soda
1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 blood orange, sliced
1 cup blueberries, washed

Instructions
1. In a large pitcher or drink dispenser, combine the white wine, blood orange soda.

2. Stir in the orange juice, orange slices and blueberries.

3. Serve over ice.
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