Entertaining tricks and fresh ideas for food you’ll love.
It’s no secret around the Test Kitchens that my husband, Lee, and I prefer a good beer to a glass of wine. This time of year is his absolute favorite because of the huge variety of limited edition batches that debut. Brewers pull out secret special recipes with tons of flavor and complexity in the fall and winter. These beers naturally lend themselves to hearty cold-weather foods. To make the most of this short and busy time, we host a tasting party. Invite a few close friends with instructions to bring one or two six-packs. Set out small glasses and a few snacks. Open a few bottles to sample, and swap the rest to enjoy throughout the holidays. Our personal picks from across the South include Terrapin Beer Company in Georgia, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware, and Real Ale Brewing Company in Texas.
Entertaining friends with a homemade meal is my favorite hobby. But I have a secret: I am the worst at making desserts! I have no patience for it. So, naturally (and, of course, conveniently) I always forget until the last minute. I use my favorite trick of setting up a chocolate station. Pick up your favorite chocolate candies at the grocery store, and pour into small glasses. Break a candy bar into pieces. Cut up a bakery brownie into bite-size squares and unwrap a few truffles. Add a few shot glasses filled with ice cream or chocolate milk. Collect everything on a pretty tray, and watch your guests’ eyes open wide with delight. It brings out the kid in everyone. This super-simple display is a fanciful and clever end to an intimate dinner party or a pretty and edible centerpiece at a cocktail party. The best part: no baking or mixing required!