Dishes for holiday entertaining

BOOKMARK

December 07, 2005|By STEPHANIE SHAPIRO | STEPHANIE SHAPIRO,SUN REPORTER

Holiday Baking

New and Traditional Recipes for Wintertime Holidays

By Sara Perry

Chronicle Books / 2005 / $18.95

This cookbook leaves no winter holiday behind. Besides recipes for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, there are specialties for Boxing Day, Kwanzaa and New Year's. The recipes are appealing, but some names are cloying. Was Perry going for some borscht-belt shtick with "Bubbee and Me Baked Candy Apples"?

But if every recipe is as successful as Streusel-Top Sour-Cream Coffeecake, another Hanukkah concoction, I'll stop complaining.

Essentially Lilly

A Guide to Colorful Entertaining / By Lilly Pulitzer and Jay Mulvaney

Collins / 2005 / $30

This is possibly a first: a cookbook with recipes for dishes that are color-coordinated with the signature hues of its designer/author - who happens to be Lilly Pulitzer, "the queen of pink and green."

Pulitzer's flowery garments, affectionately called Lillys, are enjoying a vigorous renaissance among ladies who dress. And now they also can lunch - particularly during the holidays - on salads and chops and puddings that match.

Be it grilled beef tenderloin with wild mushroom sauce or smoked salmon platter with dilled sour cream, each recipe seems to have been chosen to match Pulitzer's palette.

The book offers more than recipes for Pulitzer's legions of groupies. There are old family photos and reminiscences of long-ago events.

The circumstances are luxurious and the friends are famous, but Pulitzer and her co-author take pains to show that the Pulitzers are really like any other fun-loving family - albeit much, much wealthier.

For each holiday, there are also suggested activities, movies, books, as well as a list of New Year's resolutions.

I chose a simple recipe from this relentlessly cheery book. But in the preparation of pomegranate and pineapple salad, listed in the book's suggestions for Christmas-morning breakfast, I learned an important lesson: how to liberate the tiny, jewel-red seeds of a pomegranate. The salad was as delectable as it was easy to prepare. It also would go well with my Lilly - if I owned one.

A Baker's Field Guide to Holiday Candy & Confections

Sweet Treats All Year Long

By Dede Wilson

Harvard Common Press / 2005 / $16.95

A spiral notebook is the perfect format for this well-illustrated, carefully written compilation of candy recipes that aims straight for sweet-tooth heaven.

The book includes a thorough introduction to ingredients, tools and candy styles, as well as a chart that describes the stages of candy making.

stephanie.shapiro@baltsun.com

Streusel-Top Sour-Cream Coffeecake

Serves 8

TOPPING:

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pea-size pieces

3/4 cup chopped walnuts and pecans

CAKE:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-by- 8-inch baking pan lightly and set aside.

To make topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon until blended. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until the topping is crumbly. Stir in the walnuts and pecans and set aside.

To make the cake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended.

In another medium bowl, using a hand mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. Beat in the granulated and brown sugars until smooth and lump-free.

Beat in the egg until well blended, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla until blended. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream, beating until just blended. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. The thick batter should be smooth and blended.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the reserved topping over the batter. Bake in the middle of the oven until the cake begins to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

The coffeecake is best served slightly warm, but it keeps well, wrapped, for 1 or 2 days at room temperature.

Per serving: 400 calories; 7 grams protein; 23 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 43 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 66 milligrams cholesterol; 298 milligrams sodium

From "Holiday Baking: New and Traditional Recipes for Wintertime Holidays"

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