Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 10 items you need in your holiday pantry!

Let Chef Katie take the stress out of holiday entertaining with a quick kitchen makeover! Whether you need to create delicious dishes for for a festive feast, or simply whip up quick, tasty appetizers for pop-in guests, you'll have just what you need in a pantry stocked with these staples.

1. French Baguettes
While this might not seem like an item you can keep on hand for weeks, baguettes actually freeze quite well; I always pick up an extra when they’re on special at the store, cut it into thin slices, and freeze the pieces in an airtight bag. When I need to throw together a quick and easy party appetizer, toasted crostini are my go-to recipe; to make them, simply thaw the bread at room temperature, sprinkle lightly with water, and bake in at 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes to warm through. Finish of the dish with cheeses, jams, vegetable ragu, or other seasonal toppings.

2. Olives
These salty bites can be served alone or alongside nuts, cheeses, and charcuterie on an antipasto plate, pureed in a delicious tapenade, or even tossed in a warm tomato sauce over broiled fish or cooked pasta. I like to keep a few jars of Kalamata, green, and even blue cheese-stuffed olives in the pantry for making warm marinated olives (think lemon or orange zest, fresh minced garlic, and chopped herbs – yum!).

3, 4, & 5. Horseradish, Quality Mustard, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
More than just condiments for your Christmas roast! Prepared horseradish mixed with sour cream is great for topping mashed potatoes and adds a kick to your favorite dips (think spinach and artichoke, blue crab, or any other creamy, cheesy spread). A spoonful of mustard added to a pan sauce puts a delicious gourmet twist on your classic main dishes, or simmer aged balsamic vinegar with brown sugar until reduced by half and use as a glaze over roasted vegetables, meats, and even fresh cheeses.

6 & 7. Canned Tomatoes and Dried Pasta
Nothing beats the winter blues like a big warm bowl of pasta! I keep my pantry stocked with cans of whole, crushed, and paste to whip up an easy tomato sauce, bisque, or even a batch of comforting chili for easy weeknight dinners and casual family entertaining.

8. Frozen Puff Pastry
Whether you’re in need of a fancy holiday main dish (think filet de bouef Wellington) or a quick and easy sweet treat (chocolate croissants anyone?), frozen puff pastry sheets can be rolled, cut, and baked off in no time. I use this for everything from mini tart shells for cooked mushroom ragu to individual apple-cranberry turnovers when I don’t have the time to measure, mix, and roll fresh dough.

9. Beans
Think beans are boring? Think again! Beans can add a filling, flavorful shot of protein to lots of great winter dishes. Toss them into soups, hearty salads, or create a homemade hummus dip that will truly impress your guests.

10. Wine
It's great to cook with, great to drink, and of course, it makes a great holiday gift, too!

Chef Katie leads a class on Holiday Cocktail Party Pairings. View our upcoming easy entertaining classes.

No comments:

Post a Comment