Christmas

Elegant Entertaining

by Holly Palance

jolly3.jpgAll I want for Christmas is my caviar pie. Which is a jolly good thing, since it's the only dish I take joy in creating.

Born without the cooking gene, my talent was always for producing and managing parties, until Brent Power, my best friend from grade school served up a delectable dip Christmas Eve 1982 at my wedding shower and I was hooked. I actually broke down, copied the recipe (my first ASK ever) and have been serving it and bringing it as my pot luck contribution ever since to ooh's and ahh's.

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Holly's Foolproof Caviar Pie

Clam Jam Dip

eggplant-dip-or-spread.jpg Ina Garten’s Roasted Eggplant Spread

Lila's Guacamole

Hummus

Leek & Saffron Broiled Oysters

Rebecca’s Simple Ricotta Spread with Garlic Bruschetta

Felicite's Shrimp Tapas

I've always wanted to make a yule log or Bûche de Noël for Christmas. This year I vowed I would. Here is my updated version of the traditional holiday cake. Instead of the more common génoise made with eggs and sugar beaten over a bain marie, flour, and melted butter, I decided to make a flourless cake. Simply made with sugar, eggs, and ground walnuts, this recipe results in a light and nutty sponge cake. The filling of chestnut purée and a little bit of rum is my favorite kind. And the frosting is a traditional chocolate buttercream.

Hungarian in nature, this recipe is loosely inspired by the logs my great aunt used to make whenever we visited her in Hungary. I think you will find this cake to be highly irresistible. One thing to note: Since the cake is flourless, it does shrink after baking.

buchedunoel.jpgWalnut Yule Log with Chestnut Filling and Chocolate Buttercream

6 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1-1/4 cups ground walnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a rimmed baking sheet, line with parchment paper, and butter again.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolks by hand. In another small bowl, stir together dry ingredients: ground walnuts and baking powder.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, adding sugar a little at a time, until soft peaks form. On low speed, drizzle in egg yolks. Fold in dry ingredients by hand until just combined.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Immediately turn cake out of baking sheet onto a linen towel. Remove parchment paper and flip cake so that bottom is in contact with towel, and roll cake with towel. Set aside for at least 20 minutes, so that cake takes on rolled shape.

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xmasbooksIf you’re a mom or dad, you know how hectic it can get around the holidays. You wish there were more hours in a day, your mood is less than jovial and your toddler can feel it. But you don’t want him to get lost in the shuffle; he just wants to be a part of the planning, baking and all the wonderful festivities. Make time for the two of you. Not only is it fun, but a great way to calm down and enjoy the moment.

Here are some fun and easy holiday activities and recipes for you and your toddler to do together:

  • Before the holiday begins, go to the library and pick up a few age appropriate holiday books and spend time reading with your child.
  • Play holiday music in your home or car. The tunes are catchy and toddlers love to sing along.
  • Buy him a holiday activity book. Put on holiday music and ask him to make some special pictures. Then decorate your home with his beautiful pictures!
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