In this second part we will be going over the nuts and bolts of your holiday entertaining: dishes, glasses and trays. What you want to start this week is go through your Christmas dishes, trays, candy bowls and such. Some of these might need some washing. A tip to keep your not-everyday dishes free of dust is to place a layer of plastic wrap over them before you put them away (you can re-use these wraps). This is especially handy for those pieces that did not come with a box (like you mom’s china set).
Cutlery was always an issue at our house, as in we never had enough, since I’m not big on buying throw-away forks, spoons and knifes I got an idea a few years ago. This is by far fancy, but it does the trick (and you don’t really care if someone accidently chucks it in the garbage: go to your nearest thrift shop (like The Agape Centre) and buy a dozen of each of the utensils you need. These will not match, but who cares as you’ll probably paid less than $0.50 ea. (and you helped someone in need at the same time… so win, win). I keep my miss-matched set in a small plastic container.
Now that you have a better idea of what dishes you will need, here’s a simple make-ahead cheddar puff that you can freeze.
Cheddar Almond Puffs
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup butter
1 tbs. thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups finely grated cheddar
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Variation: you can add 1 tbs. of your favorite red pepper jelly to the above for a extra special touch. We normally use our I’m Blue For Your Hot Pepper Jelly.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
In a saucepan combine the water, butter, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling. Then add all of the flour at once; stir quickly. Cook and stir until your mixture turns into a ball. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bolw and start adding the eggs one at a time, (beating well with a spoon after each addition). Add the cheeses and the almonds.
Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put all of the dough into a pastry bag (if you don’t have one use a large ziplock bag in which you’ve cut a corner off). Pipe 1-inch mounds of dough, 1 inch apart, onto baking sheets.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden and firm. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To freeze these puffs; when out of the oven, allow these to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container; cover. Freeze for up to 1 month. When ready to serve; bake in a 375 degrees F oven for about 5 minutes.
As always, If you have cooking or baking questions that you would like me to answer in this column, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by for a chat at Love Love Food: Gourmet Foods & Gifts, located at 10 Fourth St. East, Unit B, Cornwall (Shop is open Tuesday to Sunday, check our website for holiday hours) www.lovelovefood.com