With the holiday season lurking just around the corner, this is a perfect time to brush up on your party planning skills. Hosting a Thank-Goodness-the-Kids-are-Back-in-School brunch would be a perfect dry run for Thanksgiving Dinner with the extended family.
To assist in making all your hosting efforts a success, Martha Stewart has just released a new cookbook, “Martha Stewart’s Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors D’Oeuvres.”
Even better, Williams-Sonoma has chosen the book as its Cookbook Club selection for September, and will be offering corresponding cooking classes on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Taking place in both the South Coast Plaza and Crystal Cove Promenade locations, the class will be presented at 6 p.m. by the store’s culinary experts. The $75 class fee includes a signed copy of the book, a three-course tasting menu with recipes culled from the book’s best offerings, and a 10 percent discount on any purchases made that evening.
If you are like me, you may become a little intimidated when the name Martha Stewart is thrown around. In fact, thinking of hosting a Martha Stewart caliber party gives me a slight case of “which fork do I use anxiety.”
While I enjoy entertaining, and hosting well-thought out parties, Stewart’s reputation for upper-crust perfection has caused me to think that her recipes might be designed for a palate a little more sophisticated than those I am accustomed to catering to.
I was very pleased, however, to find that this book offers a plethora of recipes, both simple and sophisticated, that are appropriate for all types of occasions. Many of the dishes can be made with ingredients commonly on hand in most kitchens, and Stewart even includes recipes for everyday snacks, such as a great guacamole, and a variety of salsas.
Having last minute guests? How about whipping up some “Seasoned Potato Chips,” made by simply baking store bought potato chips, then finishing them with a sprinkling of seasoning, such as Old Bay, or a blend of grated fresh parmesan and thyme.
Or, for a simple, yet sophisticated presentation, offer your guests a taste of “Broiled Feta” served with pita triangles. Simply pat dry an eight-ounce block of feta cheese, then drizzle it with olive oil. Broil for four to six minutes, and finish it with another drizzle of oil and some red pepper flakes.
When paired with two of Stewart’s other dishes, “Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus” and “Warmed Olives,” the broiled cheese creates a polished spread that requires little to no skill in the kitchen, and very little prep time.
While some dishes, such as “Gougères,” a baked cheese pastry similar to a cream puff, require a little more effort, many, like “Papaya, Mango, and Pineapple with Spiced Salt,” “Seasoned Popcorn,” and “Puff Pastry Cheese Straws” can all be prepared quickly by even the most amateur of cooks.
Perhaps the best part of the book is that it is also filled with invaluable tips on how to efficiently plan and host a party, such as the “Golden Rules for Hosting a Party:”
- Keep the Pantry Stocked
- Make Lists
- Streamline the Menu
- Choose Recipes Wisely
- Mix it Up
- Think Visually
- Front-Load the Work
- Stick to Your Budget
- Consider the Drinks
- Relax and enjoy.
All simple, yet important things to remember to ensure that a party runs smoothly, and all needs are accounted for.
So, my initial intimidation aside, it turns out that “Martha Stewart’s Appetizers” is a fantastic addition to the library of anyone who likes to entertain, on either an intimate or grand scale.
Filled with delicious recipes, enticing beverages to accompany them, and tips to help novice and seasoned hosts alike throw a party with poise and flair, this is both a book and class worth checking out before your next gathering.
For more information on the event, or to reserve your spot, please visit williams-sonoma.com, or call (714) 540-1397 for the South Coast Plaza location, or (949) 464-2168 for Crystal Cove.
Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at [email protected]