spring fling

entertaining with style- making it work for you

Categories: Setting the Stage, Posted on March 4, 2018 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (0)

When tulips start to pop up in the grocery store it’s a sure sign that they will soon be blooming in our yards. With that optimism, I rush to fill my home with these spring beauties.

I’m always looking for inspiration on how to arrange flowers. So, the other day when I was waiting in the checkout line with several sleeves of tulips in my cart, a magazine on Easter entertaining caught my eye. I impulse bought, shrugged off the outrageous price, and looked forward to perusing the pages with a big cup of coffee.

A beautiful underwater design inside a large round vase intrigued me. I set down the magazine and went into my darkroom which now houses all of my vases, old cookbooks, Christmas ornaments, and hundreds of vinyl records. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have one of those big round vases. And I certainly wasn’t going to purchase one. One of my new year resolutions was to give things away, not to accumulate anything more. (Do you know that most florists will gladly take your old vases? That’s probably what happened to my round one when I loaded up the back of my car and made one of those deliveries.)

I was a little frustrated that I couldn't recreate that arrangement. I was also a little perplexed at how many vases I still had. My mind wandered to other things that I have a lot of. When I first got married thirty years ago one of the most popular gifts was crystal bowls. I think we got seventeen. I kept asking my mother and future mother-in-law what I was going to do in a tiny Manhattan apartment with all those bowls. They merrily replied, “put fruit in them.”

So, I went into the other part of the basement that has all of my rarely used entertaining and cooking items. I opened a cupboard and behind my asparagus steamer was the most beautiful crystal bowl.

Here is my arrangement. I actually think it is even more beautiful than the one I was hoping to copy.

Start with a dozen tulips.

Fill a glass bowl with cold water. (Tulips like to be in cold water.) Add a little floral preservative to feed the flowers and keep bacteria at bay.

Trim one of the flowers ,a little at a time, so that the bloom just touches the top of the bowl when it’s wrapped along the edge.

Use that flower as your guide flower when cutting the rest.

Make sure that your final cut is on the diagonal so that the stems can drink up as much water as possible.

Discard the excess leaves.

Begin winding the stems along the side of the bowl.

Keep adding blooms.

Remember to keep adding cool fresh water to the bowl each day. And you might need to rearrange and trim your tulips as the days pass, tulips continue to grow even after they are cut.

This arrangement is stunning in its simplicity, and surely cause for celebration.

wink and a nod

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Dinner Party, Fête Fact, Posted on February 19, 2018 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (1)

Right before Valentine’s Day I taught a Girls’ Night Out cooking class at Dorothy Lane Market’s Culinary Center. The evening featured elegant and effortless appetizers and some simple but spectacular deserts. To make it more fun, Teresa Kearney, paired it all with wines from across Europe. Because let’s be honest, when having people over who doesn’t want to know how to make a splash without a lot of fuss.

Below you will find recipes that are embarrassingly easy. I find they are the perfect way to start and end any evening.

Here’s a secret… take something basic such as a dip, crudité, or meat and cheese platter and upgrade the ingredients so it looks fresh and interesting.

As our students sat down they were greeted with an antipasto platter. Forget the salami and cheddar. A platter of castelvetrano olives, roasted marcona almonds, slices of manchego, and rolls of paper-thin mortadella is so much more inviting with its array of textures and flavors.

And while you are at the olive bar pick up some olive tapenade. It’s the perfect topper for a soft goat cheese. Add a decorative bowl of pita chips and you have a 30 second starter. Unless someone is on a killer diet no one even notices the veggies and dip. Here is a crazy good recipe for whipped gorgonzola. Pulsing a dolce (sweet) gorgonzola with a little cream cheese and heavy cream makes for an ethereal concoction. Get creative when you select your crudité. Swap out fennel for celery. Instead of pre-packaged carrots that look like whittled down nubs, pick up a bunch of thin young carrots with their leafy green tops. Quartered and halved radishes sport a new look when you leave their tops and tails on as well. And try making chips out of peeled and thinly sliced rainbow beets. The whipped gorgonzola is also incredible piped into half of a pitted date.

I am smitten with these wafer-thin Siljan cups. You can put absolutely anything you want into them. And no matter how humble, whatever you put in is instantly elevated.

For the first I made a little egg salad and added a dollop of Caviart. If you’ve never tried it, you’ll be amazed. It’s actually made out of seaweed but looks and tastes like caviar. You’ll find it in the canned seafood aisle. And the best part- the black never runs. For the second I put in a dollop of triple crème cheese and a smidge of fig jam. And for the third… don’t faint… I chopped deli-bought chicken salad, spooned it it and put a couple toasted almonds on top.

No party is complete without a passed hot hors d'oeuvre. Here are three that couldn’t be easier to prepare.  Cheese pinwheels freeze beautifully, making them the perfect go-to appetizer. The mini crab cakes are actually fresh crab cakes from your grocery’s seafood counter formed into small bite-sized disks, pressed lightly into panko, then quickly sautéed. They can be formed and refrigerated hours ahead of time. They can even be sautéed earlier then reheated in a warm oven. The deviled cheese bites are simply slices of bakery-fresh asiago breadsticks topped with deli-made pimento cheese dip, then broiled until hot and bubbly.

No night is complete without a sweet. When you’re pressed for time these three will impress your guests, and again they couldn’t be easier to make. The cheesecake tarts are believe it or not disassembled bakery-fresh cheesecake slices reassembled into bite-sized shortbread cups. The lemon sorbet with blueberries is just a hollowed out fresh lemon half filled with purchased sorbet. The lemon cups can be assembled days ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer. When you are ready to serve unwrap and top with blueberries that have been tossed with a little grand marnier.  The brownie bites are center cut frosted brownies from the bakery cut into little triangles. Changing the shape of the most mundane magically enhances it. These little bites are perfect served on a platter with fresh strawberries and if you really want to wow your guests accompany them with small wine glasses filled with hummers.

You can whip up a batch of these decadent after-dinner drinks made from vanilla ice cream, vodka and kalua and stow them in your freezer for up to a week ahead of time.

It’s always a celebration when you get to spend the evening with DLM’s wine expert, Teresa Kearney, and Culinary Center Manager, Peggy Neary. And a huge shout-out to Peggy Bishop, Kathy Kujawa, Donna Thompson and Rita Brown for making everything we prepared for this festive Girls’ Night Out look even easier!

on a roll

food detective

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Posted on February 5, 2018 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (2)

One of my readers emailed me after my last post, which was on new year resolutions and my desire to make French cheese puffs, and asked me how I expected to lose seven pounds (another one of my resolutions) while eating gougères.

Point well taken. So, I decided to investigate how I could work something bright and fresh into my canapé repertoire. I was looking for something that would dazzle without all the carbs and calories.

It’s always fun to imagine your most beloved meals, then try to break them down into bite sized pieces. One of my favorite things to order in an Italian restaurant is arugula and bresaola salad. I adore the textures and interplay of flavors. It’s typically prepared with very thin slices of air dried beef topped with peppery arugula and shaves of tangy aged Parmesan cheese.

Bresaola is a specialty in the Alps in northern Italy. It is made from top round cut of beef, and is lean and tender, with a sweet and slightly musty smell. Unlike prosciutto which is made of pork, bresaola is almost completely lean, with very little fat running through it. And while it’s pricey, because it is best sliced paper-thin, a little goes a long way. You should be able to find bresaola in a good Italian deli, specialty store and some fine grocery stores.

For a canapé take on this classic I decided to lose the cheese and simply roll up the beef with barely dressed arugula for a fresh bite that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. Bresaola and arrugula roll ups are as easy as one, two, three.

Lay the paper-thin slices of bresaola out in a line.

In a bowl drizzle the arugula with just enough olive oil to lightly dress.

Season with kosher salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and toss.

At the wide end of the slice of beef lay arugula out in a line so that the some of the sprigs fall over the edge. Roll up into a tight cigar.

The roll ups can be made an hour ahead of time. Cover with a barely damp paper towel then plastic wrap and refrigerate.

I think I'll be entertaining a new dress size soon!

resolve to make it simple

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Fête Fact, Posted on January 23, 2018 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (2)

This time of year we all have resolutions. Maybe it’s to lose 7 pounds, improve your daily workout, drink more water, mediate each morning. I know these are all on my list, along with another… to start making gougères. You might wonder what the heck is that!?

A gougère is a delicate little cheese puff made with a savory pâte à choux. À pâte what?! You might be asking if you can’t type it on a regular key board then how could you possibly make one, and why should you even try.

Most resolutions sound wonderful when you whisper them in your mind. Everything is rosy until you actually pick up a wooden spoon and vigorously stir flour, water, and butter into a dry ball over medium heat for over eight minutes. Before attempting to fully incorporate eggs one at a time, then folding in gruyere cheese and piping the dough through a pastry bag onto parchment lined baking sheets. Ok, it’s now obvious why I’ve not yet tackled this recipe.

But then the uncanniest thing occurred. I opened the frig and saw a half a can of crescent roll dough (don’t ask) and several blocks of fine cheese (that we had received for Christmas presents). Could this possibly be the makings of a forged gougère?

You are not going to believe how easy these are to make and how freaking fabulous they taste. Best yet, you can freeze them ahead of time. So, you can pop them into the oven whenever the mood strikes.

And the timing for this discovery couldn’t be better because on February 7th I’m teaching a Girls’ Night Out cooking class at Dorothy Lane Market’s Culinary Center. The theme is elegant appetizers that are easy to prepare. Well it certainly doesn’t get any easier than this. But as with all good shams you need change the name. How about “cheese pinwheels”?

Believe it or not, these start with a can of crescent rolls.

Give the can a crack and unroll the dough on to a cutting board.

Then separate the dough into four rectangles.

Pinch the diagonal serrations together.

Since you’ve gone lowbrow on the dough, splurge a little on the cheese. This is a great way to use those good leftover hunks that have been stowed in your frig.

Grate the cheese.

Scatter the grated cheese over the dough. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. Press the cheese lightly into the dough with a flat hand so it adheres.

With a sharp knife, cut each rectangle into quarters lengthwise. Then cut each strip in half lengthwise to make eight thin strips.

Roll each strip into a pinwheel, the cheese will hang out on either end.

Place on a foil lined rimmed sheet pan. Cover tightly with foil and freeze for several hours until solid.

Put the frozen pinwheels into a Ziploc bag and freeze.

Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, don’t use foil as it might tear and stick to the bottom of the cheese pinwheels.

Bake at 350 degrees for five to ten minutes until puffed and golden. Serve hot from the oven.

This is one resolutions you are sure to keep!


food detective

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Fête Fact, Posted on January 9, 2018 by Sandy Bergsten

Football’s been a constant in our home the past few weeks. Personally, I am a diehard Michigan fan, I also like to root for the Cleveland Browns. Obviously, I have had little to cheer about. That said, my attention span tends to wander and wane when it comes to other teams and competitions.

While my loved ones have been glued to the big screen watching the bowl games, I’ve secretly been glued to my little screen watching cooking segments on the morning news shows. Just happens they’ve been running New Year’s Eve appetizers. Seems like they were all trying to reach a broad audience (i.e. easy to prepare and appealing to the humblest of palates). To me their offerings appeared a little low brow to herald in the new year, but with a few tweaks could be the perfect playbook for the upcoming Super Bowl.

What football fan doesn’t crave pigs in a blanket, tater tots, and loaded potato skins? One of my entertaining mantras is to beg, borrow or steal any good idea that comes your way. Remember no one ever said everything you serve needs to be a completely original idea, that would be absurd.

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions should be to intercept all of the good plays you happen upon in 2018, figure out how to make them work for you, then pass the heck out of them.

For the loaded potato cups start with 15 to 20 very small new potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the ends off the potatoes, then cut in half.

Using a small melon baller scoop out the center of each potato half, taking care not to scoop all the way through.

Toss with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I like to re-use a grocery store produce bag.

Arrange potatoes cut side down on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 20-28 minutes depending on their size.

Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile in a large bowl combine a quarter cup each of finely chopped cooked broccoli, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. 

Stir to combine evenly.

Spoon the filling into the cooled potato cups. Garnish with chives.

The filled cups can be stored covered in the refrigerate for several hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Frozen tater tots are the secret ingredient for theses tater skewers with caviar.

Cook the tater tots according to package instructions.

Meanwhile combine the sour cream, dill, chives and lemon juice. Set aside.

The sauce can be made several hours ahead of time, cover and refrigerate.

Allow the cooked tater tots to cool slightly. Thread two tater tots onto short bamboo skewers.

Drizzle each skewer with the herbed sour cream.

Samon roe caviar makes for a great presentation and is reasonably priced. Be sure to use fresh caviar from the refrigerated seafood section of the grocery store, stay clear of the "caviar" on the shelf by the cans of the tuna.

Top with a dollop of salmon caviar.

Forget the pigs, try stuffed olives in a blanket instead. This one starts with a package of crescent rolls.

Unroll and press the dough into one large rectangle.

Cut the dough into 12 long strips. The cut in half to make 24 strips.

This recipe is super simple- just pick up some pitted Castelvetrano olives and roasted garlic from the olive bar at your grocery store.

Stuff each olive with a roasted garlic clove. If the cloves are large you might need to cut them in half lengthwise.

Place the stuffed olive at the end of each dough strip and roll the olive up. You will be able to see the ends of the olive.

Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the olives are rolled. Lightly brush the top of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. (The olives can be prepared to this point several hours ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake at 375 degrees until dough is cooked and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

This trio is sure to bring victory to all!

savor the moment

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Grains and Pasta, Dinner for Two, Supper, Dinner Party, Fête Fact, Posted on December 25, 2017 by Sandy Bergsten

One the best gifts is to truly connect with another. And there isn’t a better place around than your very own dining room table.

One of my favorite things I’m going to carry forward into the new year is inviting just one other couple over for dinner. There is something special about spending the evening in such an intimate setting. And because the group is small you can pull out all the stops and truly splurge. This might mean an excellent cut of meat, a wine you’ve been storing with care, or dish that demands your time and attention.

Gifted cooks know what makes a meal truly memorable isn’t skill or knowledge, rather preparing your dishes with love and intention. Give it a try. Consciously stir loving thoughts about those you going to feed into what you are making. You’ll be amazed how much better even your most tried and true recipes will taste.

Right before Christmas I picked up some caviar, pulled two old bottles from my cellar, and settled down with my dog-eared copy of Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cook Book. If you don’t have this quintessential bible to Italian fare go online and send yourself a post-holiday present. She’s the Italian take on Julia Child, and has the uncanny ability to demystify the essence of Italian cooking for the American kitchen.

Her Bolognese is truly to die for. The ingredients couldn’t be more humble- ground beef, chopped onion, carrot, celery, whole milk, white wine, crushed tomatoes and beef broth. The magic isn’t in the ingredients, it comes from the hours of simmering and stirring. Yes, I said hours. It will take you roughly 4-5 hours to make a true Bolognese from start to finish.

It isn’t hard, you just have to simmer and stir. Giving you the perfect opportunity to stir loving thoughts, happy memories, and wishful dreams about each and every person who will take in this transcendent sauce. And fear not, you can multitask. Just be sure to task away near your kitchen, because you really are going to want to stir it every few minutes.

For the Bolognese sauce heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef with a big pinch of kosher salt and a few grindings of fresh pepper and cook, stirring often, until brown and cooked through, for about 4–5 minutes.

Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Place the roughly chopped carrots, celery and onion in a food processor.

Pulse the onion, carrots, and celery until finely chopped.

Wipe the skillet clean and add remaining 3 Tbsp. oil; heat over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring often over medium-low heat until softened, about 20 minutes. Take care not to let it brown.

Stir in the browned meat. Add the milk and simmer, stirring frequently until the milk has bubbled away completely. Add a small grating of nutmeg.

Add a cup of white wine and simmer until it has evaporated. Add the beef broth.

Stir in the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon of sugar. Let simmer.

Simmer and simmer over low heat stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld and the sauce thickens for about three hours. Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper.

Do Ahead- this sauce is best made a day or two ahead of time. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate. Once it is chilled transfer to an airtight container. Gently re-warm over a low heat, stirring frequently. And feel free to double recipe and freeze the extra sauce in two-person portions, making the perfect date-night any night.

Those from Bologna, Italy traditionally serve this sauce over tagliatelle. I like to serve it on bucatini, a thin hollow tube pasta that at first glance resembles spaghetti but tastes nothing like it.

Now just set your table with care and let the memories begin.

double dip

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Posted on December 11, 2017 by Sandy Bergsten

Bringing an appetizer to a special friend’s party calls for something a little exceptional. Nothing says home like a dip, though there is certainly nothing humdrum about this double salmon dip.

First glances are deceiving, this concoction is sophisticated and sublime. Smoked salmon and salmon roe. Don’t skimp on the ingredients, the highest quality yields superb results.

Make sure the salmon roe (or caviar) is not smoked but fresh. The eggs should be large, juicy and firm. It should come out of the refrigerated fish section of a high-end market. Don’t be tempted to substitute the small grainy red “caviar” you’ll find next to the canned tuna fish. You’ll be sorely disappointed.

After you’ve whisked together the whipped cream cheese and half and half, fold in the smoked salmon and chives.

Gently fold in the caviar, being careful not to break the eggs.

This beauty can be made a day in advance.

Serve with thick cut potato chips. Because this dip can be rather salty, unsalted chips might be best. If you have any dip  leftover, it's incredible on bagels the next morning.

Note: real salmon roe can be pricey but it can be frozen. Weigh out one-ounce portions and freeze. Thaw slowly overnight in the refrigerator. These little eggs are equally fabulous on top of scrambled eggs with crème fraiche and dill, on blinis or crowning a lemony pasta with asparagus tips.

You’ll be tempted to double dip- but we know you won’t, at least not while anyone is looking.

with thanks

entertaining with style- making it work for you

Categories: Posted on November 27, 2017 by Sandy Bergsten

Tis the season to tell those around us how much we appreciate them. Time to thank those who make our lives better, easier, more beautiful. A thoughtful thank- you always goes a long way.

Often I make a homemade treat. Most years I make batches and batches of my ho-ho-hot fudge sauce. But this year my garden club did a bulb sale to fund their local community projects. I enthusiastically signed up for dozens of paper whites knowing that my check would go far.

Reality set in when I picked up all those bulbs. I mean how many pots of paper whites can you have blooming in your home?

Then I thought I’ll place them in little gift bags and give them as hostess and holiday gifts. But then I realized do all the people I want to show I care know how to properly plant and care for a forced bulb, or would the bulbs sit discarded in their festive bags?

At our last garden club meeting our fundraising chair had the foresight to ask one of our horticulture experts to do a little bulb tutorial. Cindy Garner is so talented, she showed us how we all can easily make a variety of gorgeous displays with our paper white and amaryllis bulbs.

Here’s a secret all good entertainers know- when you see a good idea, jot it down and figure out how to make it your own. There is no plagiarism in cooking and entertaining. The important thing is to figure out how to make it work for you. Imitation is really the best form of flattery!

Start with a paper white bulb. You can pick them up at your local garden center. I then went to Michaels for my other supplies.

I picked a vase that I could easily slip the bulb into and some clear glass marble vase fillers.

Fill the vase with an inch or two of marbles.

Nestle the bulb (bottom side down) into the marbles.

I then trimmed three gold painted branches so once inserted rose about six to eight inches above the top of the vase.

Insert the branches into the vase.

I chose a subtle wired ribbon that I thought would complement the bloom and painted twigs.

Tie a bow around the center of the vase. Wired ribbon is easy to manipulate, so that even the least crafty can create a beautiful bow.

That’s it! All you need to do is inform your recipient to add water to just the base of the bulb, and to keep adding water so that it stays at that point (if it’s any higher your bulb will rot, any lower and it will dry out). The bulb will soon shoot up through the vase and into the twigs and bloom about two weeks after you’ve started watering it. The best part- once the bloom has faded you can remove the old bulb and insert a new one. That way you can have paper white blooms all season long.

Once your friends see this festive gift, they might copy you too. Tis the season!

breakfast is served

food detective

Categories: Eggs, Breakfast/Brunch, Fête Fact, Posted on November 10, 2017 by Sandy Bergsten

One of best parts of the holidays can be the ebb and flow of loved ones into your home… dinners crowded around the dining room table, sandwich fixings splayed across the kitchen counter for lunch, and then there’s breakfast. Let’s be honest- that first meal of the day be a real challenge.

Almost every morning my Norwich terrier and I share an egg. It’s a simple affair, one that takes approximately seven minutes from creation to clean-up. Sometime it’s scrambled, occasionally it’s poached, a little French omelet is always a treat, and a runny soft boiled egg is heavenly over a slice of buttered toast.

But I find the joy in this morning ritual tends to dwindle as the number of recipients increases. Soon you find yourself feeling like a short order cook, and if you ever have noticed- real short order cooks never sit down with their patrons. Even if they could, they really can’t. And don’t get me started with the dishwasher.

As your house fills it’s rare that everyone is up and adam at the same time. Most likely one has just darted out the door for a jog, another just back for a shower, and others jet-lagged are still slumbering in their beds.  Boxes of cereal or repeat performances of bagels and cream cheese don’t tend to exude the “welcome home” you probably want.

The question is how to serve up a hot breakfast for all you love? There are actually many ways to precook otherwise complicated eggs. Two for a crowd that can be disastrous if left to the last minute are poached and soft boiled. Nothing more makes you want to scream “why the hell did I bother” into a kitchen towel then turning a dozen eggs into virtual super balls because you got distracted by having all of your love ones enter, then leave, then enter and leave your breakfast kitchen.

Here’s an amazing technique for pre-poaching eggs. You can actually prepare these and store them in an ice water bath in your refrigerator for a day or two. Then simply warm in a pan of simmering water for less than a minute. Delightful served as a benedict, over some hash, or some sautéed spinach.

For this post I’d like to replicate an amazing breakfast I recently had in Brooklyn at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg.

Their “Dippy Eggs” are two perfectly soft boiled eggs served in egg cups with little toast soldiers, kefir butter, maldon salt and breakfast radishes.

A few months back I stumbled upon a fabulous recipe for jammy soft boiled eggs. The trick was to lower the eggs into boiling water, simmer for exactly six and a half minutes, lift them out and immediately place them into ice water for 30 seconds, then tap each end to find the air bubble, and peel away the top.

I thought why couldn’t you just keep the soft-boiled eggs in the ice water and reheat them in simmering water the next day just like poached eggs. Guess what? You can!

I can’t wait to serve Dippy Eggs to my crew in the coming weeks. Because what could possibly say I love you more than an egg in a little cup.

Carefully place eggs into a pan of boiling water with a slotted spoon.

Simmer for exactly six minutes and thirty seconds. Immediately lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon and carefully place in a dish of ice water. Place in the refrigerator for up to three days.

To mimic the fancy kefir butter place Land-O-Lakes butter with canola oil in a ramekin.

Sprinkle with a little Maldon Salt.

Cover and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for days.

Combine a quarter cup of Maldon salt with freshly ground black pepper and if you have any pink and white pepper corns grind those into the mix as well. Set aside.

This will last for a month.

Wash and trim the radishes. Rainbow ones, if you can find them, look great on the plate.

Slice and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to a day.

The morning of, take the eggs out of the ice water and set in a bowl at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

Spread country rustic bread with soft butter.

Cut into finger-width spears.

Place the toast “soldiers” on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 8 minutes. When golden remove from the pan from the oven and set aside until ready to assemble.

For each plate place a dollop of butter. Add a heaping pinch of seasoned slat flakes. Arrange a pretty pile of sliced radishes. And stack several toast soldiers like lincoln logs.

As your loved ones file into the kitchen lower their egg into the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Simmer for 30-40 seconds until the eggs are warmed through. Remove from the boiling water. And place in a dish of room temperature water in the sink.

Tap an end to find the air bubble, then peel away the top of the shell. Trim off the top and place in an egg cup.

To serve simply place the filled egg cup on the assembled plate.

I’m sure you’ll crew will swoon for these dippy eggs too.

house of horror-d’oeuvres

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Dinner Party, Fête Fact, Posted on October 28, 2017 by Sandy Bergsten

What could be more frightening than having company arrive and not having a canape (or two) to greet them?

Fear not! Just in time for Halloween (and the upcoming holiday season) here are several appetizers that can be made well in advance and stowed in your freezer, or assembled in a matter minutes. Now you’ll always have something scrumptious to serve when the doorbell rings.

I like to offer one hot hors d’oeuvre and another cold passed or stationary one. The point of a canape is to simply whet the appetite, figure a total of three or four bite-size pieces per person. Remember guests should be able to hold their drinks in one hand and the food in the other.

It’s always nice if the canapés complement, not compete with what you’re serving for dinner. If meat is your main, perhaps a smoked fish for a starter.

If you’re having fish, then perhaps an antipasto platter. A vegetarian option is always a good bet.

My deepfreeze is home to several hot hors d’oeuvres. Thirty minutes before my guests arrive I preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. The foil is key, because then you never need to wash the pan, once it’s cool just tuck it back in the cupboard.

Be sure to keep a few boxes of cheese puff cups with fig preserves in your freezer. You won’t believe how easy they are to prepare.

The English muffin bases make mushroom cheese crisps taste like you fussed.

Smoked salmon on cucumber rounds are practically calorie-free and look gorgeous on a tray.

Update your crudité. Asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise is a fresh twist.

Caprese skewers are another colorful way to integrate veggies.

Pass on the dip and serve olive tapenade over whipped goat cheese with pita chips instead.

With these recipes in your repertoire Willie knows your guests will roar for more- trick or treat!

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