Looking to feel inspired this holiday season?
Check out "Holiday Entertaining" by the folks at Williams-Sonoma. This lavishly photographed cookbook sets out reams of ideas and tips for making your holiday gatherings more beautiful and delicious.
The book is nicely organized, giving the first section over to suggestions for dressing your table for the big event, from Thanksgiving place settings to party favors and candles for New Year's Eve.
The recipes produce elegant fare that is simple to assemble, with plenty of tips for improvisation. Especially nice are the various menus (such as holiday cocktail party and afternoon buffet) that draw on the same pool of recipes.
The lush photos of the beautiful food in books such as this can be intimidating. But these ideas are highly accessible. The Rich Chocolate Brownie Cake decorated with stenciled powdered sugar, for example, requires almost no skill.
RICOTTA-STUFFED CHERRY TOMATOES
Start to finish: 20 minutes
24 cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) low-fat ricotta cheese, drained in a mesh strainer for 1 hour
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream, if needed
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Slice off the top of each cherry tomato and set the tops aside. Using a very small spoon (measuring spoons or tiny melon baller work well), carefully scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp. Set the tomatoes aside.
In a small bowl, mash together the drained ricotta and parsley to make a paste. If the mixture seems too thick to spoon into the tomatoes, mix in the cream.
Fill each cherry tomato with the cheese mixture. To do so, either use a small spoon or place the cheese mixture in a plastic bag, snip off the tip and pipe it into the tomatoes.
Replace the tomato tops over the cheese. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Roast until the cheese is warm and the tomatoes are soft and shiny, but not collapsing, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer to a platter and serve warm.
(Recipe from William-Sonoma's "Holiday Entertaining," Oxmoor House, 2007, $34.95)
BOOK: William-Sonoma's "Holiday Entertaining," Oxmoor House, 2007, $34.95