Little sliders (fun to eat!, finger food that one can eat on the couch while watching the TV), made from mushroom caps (We’ll ignore the fact that for purposes of the challenge, mushrooms aren’t exactly Vegetables. They are like vegetables.) oozing with garlic butter and melted cheese. Forget the Super Bowl. I want to eat these EVERY day.
Holiday dinners, holiday parties, intimate gatherings with family and friends — cooking is key, but you have to decorate too. You could buy the obligatory bunch of grocery store flowers and stick them in the vase that those roses came in last Valentine’s Day, or you could exercise a little thought and creativity and come up with a simple centerpiece on a budget. [...]
With all the holiday entertaining, it’s nice to have a couple of good appetizers up your sleeve — something that can be served to guests or brought along to a party. Something that can liven up a meal of leftovers, or even make for lunch on the day when a festive dinner is taking up your attention. This chicken liver mousse is one of my absolute favorites. It can (should) be made ahead, is just decadent enough, and is cheap to make. I buy organic, air-chilled chicken livers at Whole Foods (because they always have them) and they cost $1.50 for the whole recipe’s worth. [...]
And these hors d’oeuvres might be my new favorite form of excess. They are fabulous – buttery and crisp and cheesy. I’ve made them for no fewer than four parties this December. And the best part? They are dead easy to make. You will literally be able to make these in the same amount of time it takes you to read this blog post — chilling and baking time not included. I’m not THAT verbose. Easy and fabulous is my favorite kind of food. [...]
Bread pudding. The words themselves are hardly inspiring. Stodgy, pedestrian, British, with those overtones of school dining halls and hospital food. There are some truly execrable bread puddings — dry, almost crusty, with little discernible flavor other than that provided by a few sugary raisins, and no give. And frankly, most bread puddings I’ve had in even the best bakeries and restaurants have been in this mold — cut into neat squares and utterly unappetizing. But a good homemade bread pudding is a different beast. This is spoon food, creamy and gooey and served warm from the oven in a bowl. Bread and milk and eggs and sugar combine to form an alchemy — no longer distinct elements but something altogether new and wonderful. Comforting and exciting all at once, bread pudding has the potential to hit exactly the right dessert spot. Bread puddings can range from the basic bread and butter pudding, also known as “make a dessert from things in your pantry” to the very fancy indeed. This one is somewhere in between. It is an easy bread pudding, make no mistake about that. And most of the ingredients are in my pantry, but the basic sandwich bread and milk and eggs is kicked up a notch — the bread is a brioche (the best bread for bread pudding hands down, if you can find it), spread with a sweet and tart raspberry jam. The custard is thickened with cream and scented with the floral aromas of Tahitian vanilla extract and Amontillado sherry. And to top it off, the pudding is taken from the pedestrian to the porsche with a topping of creamy, dreamy, meringue, browned to perfection. [...]