The Hospitable Host

Asparagus300sqI have friends who hate the idea of a potluck of any kind. They think if you host a party, you should provide all the food and drink.

I’m not one of them. I see no problem with asking guests to bring something — or to at least letting them bring something if they so desire. The key is control. No one wants 10 cheese trays or artichoke dips.

Assign each guest a category: sweet or savory, dip or tray, hot or cold. And if they ask, give them suggestions.

Here are three of my favorite take-along dishes to holiday parties. One can be assembled ahead and baked at the party (or if it’s a neighborhood party, taken warm directly from your house). The other two can just be taken in pretty serving bowls.

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS

Makes about 20

This recipe is from my latest book, Recipe For Joy.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

10 paper-thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Drizzle asparagus with oil, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap one prosciutto slice around each spear, leaving tip exposed. Arrange on baking sheet. Roast 5 minutes. Turn spears over. Roast until asparagus is tender and prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

SWEET AND SPICY NUTS

Makes about 6 servings

Take this nut mix in a pretty jar tied with a ribbon for a hostess gift or in a glass bowl for sharing.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup walnut halves

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Combine salt, chili powder, cinnamon and cumin in a small bowl.

Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add nuts. Stir until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add brown sugar. Stir until melted and beginning to glaze nuts. Add spice mixture. Remove from heat. Toss to coat evenly. Spread on a baking sheet to cool.

FETA CHEESE SPREAD

Makes 1 cup

This velvety smooth dip is ideal for pita chips. Make it ahead to allow flavors to blend if possible.

1/2 pound feta cheese (preferably Greek), crumbled

3 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for drizzling

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pita chips for serving

Combine feta, 3 tablespoons olive oil, pepper flakes and lemon juice in a food processor. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate several hours.

Drizzle dip with additional oil. Serve with pita chips.



Categories: Recipes

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