Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Season for Entertaining

Does this cheese platter situation look familiar?  We're more than a week into December, which means the onslaught of holiday parties and cocktail hours is upon us.  Each and every year we're back to the pattern - attempting to get through the month unscathed on the scale while still taking part in the revelry of season.  It can be achieved if you play the game smartly: keeping your eyes on the New Year's resolution prize and staying mindful of just how much booze, brie, bacon-wrapped dates and bourbon balls you're actually downing over the next few weeks.  And as a disclaimer, I love all of the aforementioned items.  I'll be posting tidbits and tactics throughout the month on how to avoid the holiday weight gain, which as studies tend to show, is actually just a single pound for many Americans.  Unfortunately, the catch is that we often don't shed that pound and it turns to 5 or 10 extra pounds as the years pass.  I'll also be posting how I  myself am celebrating the season and what I'm up to in the kitchen (LOTS of good stuff coming after this Friday, trust me).  To start us off, a quick photo above showcasing simple, but elegant entertaining with the cheese board.  Extra little accents can take you a long way - from adding a touch of freshly cracked black pepper to honey, to stacking crostini toasts (slice a baguette and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes at 350).  Here I've also got a newly discovered delicious cheese Ascutney from Vermont - you'll find it at Whole Foods and New Amsterdam Market - and fresh ricotta to pair with maple-rosemary roasted pears.  I swear they're incredibly easy and will stun anyone who tastes them.  Slice up a pear or two, drizzle with a teaspoon or two of good maple syrup, sprinkle a pinch of fresh rosemary and roast at 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and soft.  All the tastings that are pictured above are displayed on a slate cheeseboard by Brooklyn Slate Company - easy and gorgeous. 
On another note, for all of you who like your cocktails but not all the extraneous holiday calories multiple nights in a row, reach for a glass of champagne when in doubt.  It's a genius call at 85 calories per glass and who doesn't love a little bubbly every now and then?!
Stayed tuned for more recipes this week...a killer osso buco is on tap and is perfect to warm you up on a chilly winter evening.

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