Like reverse hibernation, the winter holidays tend to bring out the party host in all of us. Who doesn’t want to open their home and kitchen to family and friends?
Even if you’re not personally throwing a bash, you’re probably going to be asked to contribute to a family or office potluck. In case it’s been a while since you last put your kitchen skills on display, here are some recipes to get you through the festivities with your culinary reputation intact.
BALSAMIC BERRIES WITH RICOTTA CREAM
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 container (16 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Whip ricotta cheese, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a medium bowl using an electric mixer. Divide mixture into six serving goblets and chill. Combine vinegar and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture lightly coats a spoon. Cool completely. Toss strawberries with balsamic syrup. Evenly divide strawberries into each goblet. Sprinkle basil ribbons on each.
Notes: This recipe can be made a couple hours ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve. For larger groups, serve smaller amounts in disposable plastic shot glasses.
DEVILS ON HORSEBACK
1 box pitted whole dates, about 40
1 medium block Parmesan cheese
1 lb. bacon, cut into thirds
With a knife, make a slit in the side of each date. Cut a piece of cheese large enough to fit into the slit and place inside it (it can protrude out slightly). Wrap bacon slice around stuffed date and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining dates, cheese and bacon.
Cook stuffed dates under broiler, turning once, about 3 to 5 minutes or until bacon is crisp (do not burn).
Notes: Dates are available in the supermarket near the raisins. Do not buy candied dates. For a festive look, use multi-colored “party” toothpicks.