Simple but Sophisticated
<br> <br> 1. Make a simple and spectacular centerpiece by piling fresh fruits like plums, pomegranates, pears and cranberries on a platter and adding sprigs of fresh greenery. Place in the center of the dining table, on a buffet or on the table in the entryway. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 2. Use interesting planters to show off special tiny trees that need little or no embellishment. Pick coordinating hues of color (I think purple is a fresh scheme for the holiday season) and add easy-to-find elements like glasses, fabrics and ornaments to complete the look. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 3. A traditional holly wreath can be store bought from a local florist or garden center. Add a bow in purple or lavender to extend your palette throughout the house. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 4. Make your displays easy and fun by mixing holiday items with everyday collectibles with a nod to nature with a sprig of holly. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 5. Paper decorations can be cut from printer paper that you have at hand. My paper ornament looks great hung in windows, from the tree or used to top a special gift. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 6. My fruit cake is made by adding melted white chocolate to a pre-made angel food cake and studding with dried fruits and nuts like apricots, pistachios and dried pineapple. Wrap in cellophane and attach a bow. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 7. Colorful glasses in shades of purple look pretty in an illuminated window. <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> 8. Keep entertaining simple and embellish traditional flavors. A spiral ham is heated, topped with a cranberry preserve and served with hearty biscuits or Parker House rolls. <br> <br> <br> 9. Corn pudding is an easy casserole dish that looks great on your table or your neighbor's as either a gift or party pot luck. Now, here's comfort food with flare! My very talented former assistant, Barbara Koppel, always serves this side dish as part of her fall repertoire. I've created this version as a savory side to our delicious ham. Thank you, Barbara, for this yummy inspiration. 1/2 cup flour 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons butter, melted 2 cups whole kernel corn 4 large eggs 4 cups milk Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large lightly buttered casserole, combine flour, salt and sugar. Mix in corn and butter. Beat the eggs and add to milk. Stir into the corn mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and stir with a large fork. Repeat this process three times. The third time, leave in about 10-15 minutes, until top is lightly brown and pudding is firm. Tip: I've added onions and tiny broccoli florets to this dish with great success.
10. Ricotta pie is my famous finale with a thin layer of blackberry preserve. Good to the last crumb, this light, tasty and not-too-sweet tart is the perfect ending to a large holiday meal. The blackberry jam hidden between the layers imparts just the right note of fruity flavor. For pie shell: 2 pre-made pie crusts 1 jar of seedless blackberry jam For ricotta filling: 3 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 3/4 pound or 12 ounces of ricotta 1 large egg plus the white of 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/8 teaspoon salt Shell: Lay the pre-made pie crusts out on a pastry board with a small amount of flour on the surface. Using a rolling pin, thin both the crusts to about four-to-six-inches larger than they started. Place one of the crusts in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Use your fingers to work the crust into the folds of the pan. Spread an even layer of the blackberry jam and top with the second pie crust. Work the edges of the crust into the pan to seal