Campari – be a little different

CaparmiChristmasCocktail1Click on the topmost title to open

If you like to be a little different, you may enjoy Campari.

The slightly-bitter red spirit has been in and out of vogue since

 it was invented in Novara, Italy in 1860. Campari is an infusion of herbs and fruit

 – and it is definitely distinctive.  The first time you taste it you may find it bitter,

but it grows on you.

 

You may think of it as a summer drink. It is an essential ingredient

for famous summer cocktails the Americano and a Napolitano

 – and of course a classic Campari and soda with a wedge of orange.

 It is perfect for the holidays with its bright colour and refreshing taste.

I like it with a splash of sweet red raspberry liqueur and topped with sparkling Prosecco.

 

Campari makes a lovely gift for any host with a taste for art and Americanos.

They will love Campari’s new limited-edition art labels. Each one features

 an iconic sketch by Italian futurist artist Fortunato Depero,

 “reimagined with the use of contemporary colors”.

The limited-edition bottles are available now for the holidays!

 

Campari Holiday Sparkling Cocktail

 

Fill a wine glass half way with crushed ice

(Champagne on ice is popular in Europe. It is called une champagne piscine)

Add a few fresh raspberries

½ ounce of raspberry liqueur

1 ounce Campari

Top with dry Prosecco

 

 

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Entertain with ease

Jacqueline Whitmore Click on the topmost title to open

Holiday entertaining can be stressful. Working full time, a lack of experience, and high expectations can make preparing a “feast” feel like an insurmountable task. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Jacqueline Whitmore is an international etiquette expert, author, speaker, and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. “The best rule to keep in mind is the five Ps: prior planning prevents poor performance,” she says.

Here are Jacqueline’s 10 tips for being a hospitable host during the holidays:

Do your homework

Find out ahead of time if any of your guests have food allergies or other dietary restrictions and plan your menu accordingly or prepare a buffet with a variety of items.  Keep it simple and serve what you know. Don’t try to serve an unfamiliar, complicated, or labor-intensive dish your first time out.

Keep a list

Write down all of the items you need to make your meal complete. It’s especially frustrating when you think you have all of your ingredients and then discover, in the midst of cooking, that you don’t have enough salt, sugar, or butter. 

Have a variety of beverages on hand

The mark of a good host is to have a few bottles of red and white wine along with plenty of nonalcoholic beverages for the teetotalers in the group.

Stock up on snacks

This includes nuts, chips, salsa, or dip, one or two different cheeses, crackers, and one or two kinds of frozen appetizers. Choose hors d’oeuvres that are easy to eat and require only one bite. This will ensure that no one gets crumbs on his or her nice outfit, or on your floor.

 

Do as much as possible the day before

Don’t wait until the last minute. Set your table the night before. Clean and polish your serving pieces and fill your salt and pepper shakers a few days before Thanksgiving dinner to avoid last-minute flurries.

Iron your linens

When you are serving cocktails, provide linen cocktail napkins or, at the very least, decorative paper cocktail napkins. For dinner, use linen napkins because they’re more elegant than paper ones.

Set the mood

Candles are an easy, inexpensive, quick way to make any home more inviting. Buy as many candles as you can and place them throughout your house. Remember to reserve a few unscented ones for the dinner table. Light your candles approximately 15 or 20 minutes prior to your guests’ arrival, and then light the candles on your dinner table just before everyone sits down to dine.

Choose your tunes

Music is a vital element in the staging of a good holiday get together, as it sets the tone for the evening. Create a dinner party playlist on your iPod or iPhone or preset your CD player so there’s music in the air when your guests arrive and keep it playing throughout the evening.

Preset your coffee and tea service

About an hour before your party set up your coffeemaker and put cream, milk, sugar, and sweetener in decorative containers. Put condiments in attractive bowls or containers rather than placing bottles directly on the table. Put your coffee cups, saucers, teaspoons, and assorted teas on a tray on a side table.

Make time for yourself

Allow plenty of time to shower, get dressed, and look your best for your party. You’ll want to greet your guests at the door with a relaxed smile on your face. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better time you’ll have at your own party.

http://www.etiquetteexpert.com/

http://jacquelinewhitmore.com/

DolceDolce’s tips for taking the stress out of holiday entertaining: 

Start cleaning, polishing and assembling the dishes you will need a week or more in advance, if you are having a large party of more than 8-12 people.

If you are not a calm or experienced cook simplify your menu.

Buy and reheat the dish that scares you the most. I cook, but when I had a very tiny apartment kitchen and minuscule stove, I used to order a smoked turkey and make all the side dishes. Order fabulous pies from a bakery or a fancy cheese plate from specialty shop. Make soup mid-week.

See our Food section this issue for more great entertaining ideas.

 

 

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Entertaining ideas!

51QvCo1TxyL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Small Bites Big Flavor: Simple, Savory, and Sophisticated Recipes for Entertaining by Eric Levine is available just in time to help you make your next holiday party a standout. Chef Levine has imaginative ideas for food and drinks that will wow guests. The book is written for the home chef and has dishes from soup to nuts in clever, easy mini versions. 

There are100 recipes and stunning photos to guide and inspire you. The degree of difficulty and fussiness is varied, too. For the easy-going chef and host, there are easy and delicious spreads and tasty cocktails and even “adult milk and cookies.” For the more sophisticated foodie, there are delicate creations such as Grilled and Chilled Asparagus-Skewed Shrimp with Almond Vinaigrette, or slightly larger bowls of Roquefort, Honey, and Fig Custard.  The book is worth buying for its ideas on food presentation alone.

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Adoring traditions,old and new!

Enjoying a holiday tea at the St. Regis Photo by Victoria Lynn WestonDarlings, I adore tradition, especially during the holidays. I love Christmas music, even when it blasts through malls and office buildings. I enjoy traditional old songs and new classics, such as Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. And, the season would not be complete without Dean Martin’s classic and corny, Baby It’s Cold Outside and Eartha Kitt’s sultry and playful Santa Baby.                   

Magical full-sized gingerbread house Atlanta St. Regis Hotel. Photo by Victoria Lynn WestonMoving around as I have, I learned to appreciate the joy of “minting” new traditions. I cherish all my memories of growing up with traditional New England Christmases. In Montréal, I grew to appreciate the many traditions of that wonderful old city as we celebrated with family and friends. It may be cold, but there a few sights more beautiful than Montreal glittering with holiday lights and fresh snow. I still long for the cozy warmth of afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on beautiful, bedecked Sherbrooke Street, after an afternoon of shopping with a friend.
 
Elegant tea nibbles at the St. Regis. Photo: Victoria Lynn WestonThis year, I shared an elegant Holiday Tea with a friend at St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta. We sipped icy champagne as we nibbled on tasty tea sandwiches of chopped egg and smoked salmon. We loved the elegant presentation in the hushed and sparkling white and icy blue room. We felt festive and a bit decadent as we finished off tiny truffles and dainty scones. Even though we had no children, we lingered at the life-sized sugar and gingerbread house. As we were leaving, a mother arrived with two small children. They were as enraptured as we were with the cinnamon-scented dwelling.
 
Afternoon tea has always been one of my favourite indulgences. If you have never tried it, slip away and sink into the atmosphere of the English ritual, and sip a cup of fragrant brew or a cold glass of bubbly – or both! Or, perhaps take a child to a holiday tea with Santa, and start a new tradition.
 
My husband and I adored hosting our big holiday parties in Moscow and Toronto.
At times people marveled at the work. But, entertaining a party of any size is easier if you are organized.
 
I recently went to the beautiful Aria Restaurant in Atlanta. The special tasting dinner was part of the Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour, featuring special organic reserve tomatoes grown exclusively for Muir Glen under certified organic practices.Aria’s owner, Chef Gerry Klaskala is one of five award-winning chefs from around the country who participated. The tomatoes we tasted are hand-harvested at the peak of ripeness to guarantee exceptional quality and taste, and they are delicious. They are among my favourite ingredients; I adore their rich, sweet taste.
 
The theme of the dinner was holiday entertaining. “At the holidays, you want to offer your guests the best,” one of the Muir Glen marketing people said. She was right. Often that kind of simple wisdom can make entertaining so easy.
 
Elegance doesn’t have to be daunting. Chef Klaskala’s party-hosting tips are simple, and will ensure a lovely relaxed evening. He emphasized the importance of cooking and preparing in advance, so you won’t have to worry about the food too much, once your guests arrive. He recommends keeping cocktail and buffet food bite-sized and easy to eat. The main course, “Spicy Braised Angus Beef with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Gold Potatoes and Cilantro” would be perfect for buffets, and easy to make in advance.
 
Another of Chef Klaskala’s ideas that I loved was sending guests home with a prettily-packaged treat. Holiday cookies can be baked or bought, and wrapped in advance.
I also loved the pretty ornaments used as place cards. A name card was attached to a glittering ball at each place setting. The individual printed menus added a nice touch. All these ideas are easy to duplicate.
 
As a pro, the chef knows that real elegance demands quality, detail, and ease!
 
Darlings, the holidays are what you make of them. It may sound crazy, but some of my most romantic Christmases have been spent in Bangkok, in the tropical heat. We would spend the evening at the Oriental Hotel at their poolside party. The evening would end with a dancing and a fabulous fireworks display. My husband and I remember fondly two years ago, when we spent the evening at a wonderful Thai restaurant in Atlanta. We had planned an entirely different evening – but ended up at Nan. It was fabulous.  
 
You can take a friend to elegant tea, plan a skating party followed by a buffet lunch of hot homemade soup and salad, or throw a glittering gathering. But celebrate and create light and warmth in this cold winter month! Make the most of the holiday season, and share with those less fortunate. Let your heart sing!
 
Happy holidays my darlings, and sparkle plenty! 
 
 
Chef Gary Kalaska’s Spicy Braised Angus Beef
with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Gold Potatoes and Cilantro
 
Prep time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: Two hours
 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 tomatillos, paper skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
2 lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes, fat trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cans (14.5 oz ea) Muir Glen® Harvest Sunset™ organic fire-roasted diced red and yellow tomatoes, undrained
1 carton (32 oz) beef stock
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
 
1. Heat oven to 275°F. In 5-quart ovenproof Dutch oven, cook olive oil and onion over medium heat 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
2. Add tomatillos, jalapeño chile and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef, salt and pepper; cook 4 minutes or until beef is browned. Add tomatoes; cook 3 minutes. Add stock and potatoes; heat to simmering.
3. Cover; bake about 1 hour or until no longer pink. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes before serving. Stir in cilantro, and serve in warmed bowls.
 
8 servings (1½ cups each)
 
Order Reserve tomatoes:  www.muirglen.com/reserve/default.aspx
 
DolceDolce will return with a new issue on January13th, 2012
Happy Holidays!
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