There’s a lot to love about a good baked brie – golden puff pastry wrapped around a wheel of creamy cheese and a secret sweet surprise (jam, brown sugar, nuts, etc.), where the cheese and jam meld together and ooze out of the flaky crust when you first cut into it. That’s Baked Brie’s brief moment of glory, though, so you’d better eat fast. When the cheese cools, the once-elegant pastry/cheese package turns into a congealed blob, with soggy dough that contributes little more than calories. Your party guests deserve better! Continue reading
I love pre-cut parchment sheets so much, and use them so often, I though they deserved their own post. These 12″x16″ sheets fit perfectly on half-sheet baking pans (another kitchen essential) – no more wrestling with parchment rolls that never quite fit right. They make cleanup a snap as well. Continue reading
For those who couldn’t make my Blog Holiday Open House earlier this month, here’s a little taste of what you missed.
This year’s theme was “Christmas in Paris” – I thought having a theme would help focus the menu and provide décor inspiration. Some of my menu items were legit French (i.e., gougères, or cheese puffs), but most were French-inspired/French-ish. I had fun creating a French Christmas theme board on Pinterest – a great way to organize ideas for a party.
Looking for a Thanksgiving side dish that’s traditional yet a “little” different? These stuffed mini pumpkins deliver big autumn flavors in an adorable little package. Even better? They’re highly nutritious (thanks to the whole grain farro), easy to prepare, and can be made a few days ahead. Continue reading
Need a quick but “wow” appetizer for a BBQ this weekend? These grilled shrimp bites are just the thing. You can prep the shrimp skewers and the sauce earlier in the day, or even a day ahead. When it’s party time, toss the skewers onto the grill and cook for a few minutes until the prosciutto is crisp and the shrimp have turned pink. Serve on a platter with the sauce alongside for dipping, or spoon some sauce onto small plates for an elegant first course. (I’ve even served the shrimp over pasta and called it dinner.)
Old-world panna cotta is experiencing a renaissance these days, and for good reason. This no-bake, gluten-free dessert is a giggly blank canvas for seasonal flavors and embellishments, from rhubarb compote to gingerbread crumbles. Sounds fancy, but panna cotta is really just barely-sweetened Jell-O made with cream (or milk or Greek yogurt) instead of water. Since it must be made ahead (in order to set up in the fridge), panna cotta perfect for entertaining. Busy restaurants love it for this reason as well.
Back in 1999, when I was voted one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, I began experimenting with all kinds of different flavorings, shapes and toppings for panna cotta.
“Full House” is more like it! Almost 50 blog followers and friends came to my Holiday Open House yesterday, and thankfully they were good eaters. (That’s why I love them!) For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a little bit of what you missed. And for anyone planning to host their own open house this holiday season, I’ve added a few tips and past lessons-learned. There are always lessons to learn with entertaining! One of these days I hope to follow my own advice.