It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Well, at least that’s what we hear piping through the sound system of every mall in America right now.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be wonderful. They can also be the most stressful. There’s the gift-giving conundrum, the headache of holiday travel and the endless gatherings – open houses, family meals, cocktail parties, potlucks. What to make? What to bring? And if you are the host(ess), entertaining can be more of a chore than a reason for cheers.
While we can’t tell you the perfect present for Uncle Bob or eliminate the headache that comes with holiday travel, we can come to your cooking rescue.
Numerous new cookbooks, including “Home Made Christmas” by Yvette van Boven (Abrams, $35) and “Potluck” from the editors of Food & Wine (Oxmoor House, $29.99), are dedicated to taking the pressure out of the food picture so that you can actually enjoy the party.
We’ve culled recipes from these books along with crowd-pleasers by cooking pros Dorie Greenspan and Ina Garden, aka the Barefoot Contessa, to create a lineup of dishes with special-occasion status that require minimal fuss.
What’s more, all of them can be made at least a day in advance so that come gathering time, you can be as chill as the spiked holiday nog in your fridge.
Advocaat (Dutch Eggnog)
Advocaat or advocatenborrel is a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar and brandy. Although often referred to as Dutch eggnog, its thick, viscous texture is more akin to custard. Advocaat is elegant when served in dainty glasses, although cookbook author Yvette van Boven also recommends using it to prepare a dessert such as a trifle.
Deviled Crab Dip
For less party stress, combine the dip ingredients a day in advance and refrigerate overnight. The next day, simply bake 20 minutes before party time.
Christiane’s Dinner Party Terrine
“There are some dishes that just stop the show as soon as you bring them to the table, and this is one of them,” writes cookbook author Dorie Greenspan about Christiane’s Dinner Party Terrine, in her newly released “Everyday Dorie” (A Rux Martin Book/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35). This rich egg-and-cream custard studded with vegetables makes for a fine starter, side dish or even an entree when rounded out with a salad or well-dressed vegetables. Greenspan recommends serving it with tomato-basil sauce.
Cheese Platter with Homemade Fruit Salami
This festive fruit salami transforms a cheese plate into a decadent dessert that sits pretty as part of a buffet spread. Cookbook author Yvette van Boven recommends serving the fruit salami with three to five cheeses. “Pick a collection of cheeses ranging from soft to sharp, alternating between white mold cheeses, wash rind, blue cheese, and firm aged cheese,” suggests van Boven. Remove all cheeses from the refrigerator half an hour before serving.
This fruit- and nut-studded cookie from Ina Garden will win the approval of avowed fruitcake haters. Make an extra batch and bring it to a holiday cookie swap. If you cannot find candied cherries or prefer a slightly less sweet treat, use dried cherries.