Entertaining

Image Like most modern day, self-taught chef's I have, of course, heard of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. First published in 1896, it's currently in its' 13th Edition, which is pretty impressive since Fannie Farmer died in 1915. Granted cooking has changed a lot in the century since she first began inspiring young wives and mothers to create lovely meals at home.

She ran the original "test kitchen" at The Boston Cooking School, constantly reworking recipes until they were just right and eventually included in the cookbook. Who knows what she would make of all our fancy gadgets and time-saving devices, but after reading Fannie's Last Supper, I have a feeling she would have enjoyed the relative ease of cooking in a more modern time.

God knows delivering dinner in the Victorian-era was no small task, as was discovered by the book's author Chris Kimball, the founder of Cook's Magazine and host of America's Test Kitchen.

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Excerpted from Lulu Powers Food to Flowers: Simple, Stylish Food for Easy Entertaining

lulubookcover.jpgNothing says New England like a good old-fashioned clambake. This is a modern clambake, with lobster rolls substituting for the classic clams (and clam chowder on the side). And it's versatile: this party can be thrown indoors or outdoors, and almost every dish can be made ahead.

The best clambake I ever attended was on Temperance Island, a private island in Connecticut owned by my sister Molly's in-laws, Susan and Sandy Kellogg, affectionately known as Su-Su and Pops. The Kelloggs grew up on the water, and they open their house from April to November. The first time I visited, I felt as if I were in a Norman Rockwell painting. Sitting on the big, wide porches, digging steamers outside the front door at low tide, and living without electricity sends you back in time. We pulled our own lobster traps and had a feast of fresh lobster, clam chowder, and fresh corn.

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onastick.jpgWith the holiday party season about to hit full swing we though we'd give you a hand with your preparations. Whether you're a first-time host, experienced party thrower or a guest who can't stand to show up empty-handed, you need the perfect cookbook for entertaining – On a Stick! by Matt Armendariz.

He covers every course from cocktails (Jello Shots and Sangria Pops) to dessert, delivering 80 delicious, fork and plate-free recipes your guests will quickly devour. That is if you can make them look as good as he does. Not only a chef, Armendariz is a food photographer par excellence, so each recipe comes with a gorgeous photo for you to attempt to imitate, which shouldn't be too hard. Some of the nibbles have more ingredients than others, but all of the recipes are clear and easy to follow.

He's a comfort food junkie and these recipes reflect that. Can you say Deep-Fried Mac N' Cheese? But, hey, when has anything you're ever eaten that comes on a stick been particularly good for you? This book is about eating tasty, full-flavored food and having fun doing it.

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Book-CoverHistorically, there are a few things you will never see me turn down:

1) A glass of champagne.

2) A ripe juicy heirloom tomato during summer.

3) Anchovies or Sardines, In Any Format, Any Time Of The Year, No Matter Where

About number three, yep, it’s true. My lifelong love affair with those salty, powerfully fishy flavors of the sea no doubt originated with my dad, who was happy to keep tins of sardines in the house, and when I think back we kids must’ve been a sight to see, eagerly inhaling sardines in mustard or sardines in olive oil with crackers, toast, or just by themselves.

As an adult I was happy to learn that there’s actually a whole world of variety when it comes to anchovies and sardines (two completely separate fish), but it’s a group I’m quick to lump together just because, well, they belong in THAT category. To me, at least.

If they’re on a menu — FRESH — forgettuaboutit. If I’m in Spain, they will be consumed daily. If they’re layered on a pizza (we’re talking anchovies here), I’m in. And my eyes eagerly seek the fine print of menus for the “Our Caesar Is Made With Anchovies, Please Inform Your Server If”, which, of course, I never seem to finish that last sentence. I am so down.

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newflavorsbig.jpgWould you like to know what I have in common with Cher? Other than the fact that I own a box of wigs, well not much really. But I do love her movies, which brings me to her 1990 film Mermaids. In the movie she played this wacky mom who only cooked appetizers for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I remember seeing it and thinking “Ok, now if I ever became an Armenian American celebrity with her own variety show and doll who wins Grammys and Golden Globes and Oscars with hit singles in the Top 10 for the past 40 years who sometimes plays a Lesbian from Texas, then damnit, I’d want to be Cher.”  But really, that’s about as far as my Cherinterest goes.

No, really.

After Mermaids I kept thinking how fabulous a world of appetizers would really be. Perhaps I’m fickle, perhaps I become bored too easily, but a world of smaller bites and various nibbles would truly keep me happy. It’d be like tapas twentyfourseven and I challenge you to find a problem with that. See? Ya can’t. Because there really is nothing wrong with small servings of flavorful foods meant to be shared with people. And if you need further convincing I’ll give you my home address and you can see my cookbook collection.

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