Sunday, November 21, 2010

Setting Table

We are a nation queued-up on the starting line of the holiday season. This coming Thursday kicks off that 6-week period when most of us will host the largest number of guests at a single time. The easiest part of having company seems to be cleaning the house. But the menu and its management are where so many of us get in trouble. The hardest thing to teach people is food and time management.

The first thing I think is making a menu plan then the shopping list at least one week in advance. In putting together a menu it is advisable to consider that 2/3’s of the dishes be presentable at room temperature or cold. This automatically gives at least 24-hours to prep those items. The remaining 1/3 should involve both stovetop and oven in order to avoid a major bottleneck at that crucial 30-hour prior to calling them to the table.

At a minimum of a week before I am baking and freezing all possible items – breads, cake bases, pie crusts, cookies – this allows me an easy counter defrost on most of those dishes. I love making turnovers, both savory and sweet, for I can bake them off and then freeze them. A quick re-warm in the oven and I am in business.

The most important thing to remember it is not worth stressing out and you got to keep a sense a humor about it– if it is not fun then it should not be done.

So, start rinsing out all the wine glasses and looking for the your platters and enjoy.

Potatoes with Almond Sauce – yields 6 servings

1-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook the potatoes until fork tender, and then drain. Peel the potatoes, if desired, while they are still warm, and then allow them to cool. Slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds and arrange them a plate in a slightly overlapping fashion.

Drizzle with the almond sauce, and garnish with paprika.

Almond Sauce – yields approx. 3 cups
1/4-cup sherry vinegar
1/2-cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup blanched almonds
1 garlic clove - peeled
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley leaves
1 yellow pepper – seeds and inner membrane removed
1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender place all ingredients, and process to smooth. Use some water to thin out the sauce as necessary.

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