Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the Ninth day of Christmas... Serving & Entertaining

My future kitchen is something I fantasize about on a daily basis. To build up the collection of all the plates, cups, special bowls, little spoons, big dinner platters and cloth napkins that create one's own entertaining larder it requires time and care. Favorite pieces end up having a bit of a story or a special person behind them. For example, I have plastic measuring spoons by Tupperware that my parents have had for as long as I can remember. When I moved out on my own I negotiated taking them with me and look at them with a little smile every time. If you have things you want to share with someone special, the holidays are a great time to make your gift giving more memorable. Here are some suggestions of dishes and things I love for both entertaining and everyday use. (Yes there is a lot of Fishs Eddy represented- don't worry you can order from them online!)

Platters. I grew up in a home with about 6 different platters. Some thin, some thick, some blue, some white and on. From this I've developed the outlook that one can never really have too many platters. They're perfect for serving up dinner all on one dish, all your meats and pieces or for breads and corn on the cob but they also come in handy as plates for meals that require more surface area than the average plate provides- like when enjoying whole lobsters. Just before Thanksgiving I was poking around Fishs Eddy and found a nice 13" platter for about $3 and scooped it up. A platter is always a good gift- make it a special one.

Cake Stands. There's something sort of romantic about a cake stand. Makes me think of the 1950s and a wife having a yellow cake frosted with chocolate icing out on the kitchen table. They do their intended purpose well but also function to display other treats, prop up trays or hold glasses on a drink table or next to a punch bowl. Some with domed lids even can become a punch bowl! A lovely gift for your favorite baker or party host. Fishs Eddy has colorful and unique stands

Small Prep Bowls. We learned back in February how helpful mise en place is from Kelsey Nixon. Having prep bowls around contributes greatly to having an effective mise en place set up. These fun colorful "nut bowls" from Fishs Eddy are great for your spices, chopped garlic and herbs and those tablespoons of oils, juices and vinegars.   When I was studying in Paris I found little bowls just like this that were silicone, I use them every time I cook. I also have a variety of HIC and Pyrex ramekins I use for prep. These are a nice add on to the gift of a cookbook or that KitchenAid stand mixer.

Pitchers & Carafes. A few years ago my brother gave my mom a pitcher with margarita glasses. I'm smitten with the idea of big pitchers of margaritas, sangria, lemonade, iced tea and even water. When space allows I plan to always have a gorgeous glass pitcher like this one in my fridge filled with something refreshing. I also love carafes like those used in restaurants world wide, and will keep one or two with water in the refrigerator also. Think of this for the eternal summer entertainer.

Good Crystal Wine Glasses. At the New York City Wine & Food Festival you are given a wine glass on a lanyard holder to go around tasting all the many wines and liquors being offered. Last year when I attended the glass was a Waterford Marquis wine glass. These are extremely lightweight and graciously inexpensive. Score a set of 8  for only $50 for someone who is just starting out their wine glass collection. 

Cheese Board. For friends who love to entertain, for fromage loving Francophiles and for those who never wine without their cheese, a cheese board is a gift they will  use again and again. I think this Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board is quite chic and if you are in the NYC area it is also locally sourced. The Brooklyn Slate boards come with chalk to write directly on the board the types of cheese presented. If you want to make a cheese board even more useful to someone just beginning to build up their kitchen go for a Boos Cutting Board like this one from Williams-Sonoma which you can have monogrammed. Pair the Boos board with conditioning mineral oil and a set of cheese markers (love these cute fork tine markers). 

Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Dishes with Sundae Spoons. Shopping last year with my mom at Bowery Kitchen she picked up a metal sundae dish to keep special at her house for when my niece (her granddaughter) came over and wanted a sweet cold treat. After watching It's A Wonderful Life this year I was reminded of these style dishes when George gives Mary her chocolate ice cream sprinkled with coconut ("Don't you know where coconuts come from? From Tahiti"). I think they add a nice flair to a little post dinner snack, perfect year round. Here are glass dishes and long handled spoons you can buy both per piece. Pair with maraschino cherries and homemade sprinkles

Tagine. Sometime this year I became properly enchanted with the idea of Morocco. Maybe it was when the Real Housewives of NYC went or from reading Big Girls Small Kitchen's blog. I also always keep that image from the remake of Sabrina in my mind when Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford go out for Moroccan in New York and eat with their hands. This attraction  lead me to decide to throw a Moroccan New Year's Eve party this year and to get Paula Wolfert's definitive book The Food of Morocco. The signature cookware/serving ware that goes with a Moroccan affinity is the tagine. I like this one from Clay Coyote for stovetop cooking and available in bright colors for serving. The book and tagine together would make for a fun exotic gift for someone looking to try new flavors and new ways of cooking. Get some harissa paste and preserved lemons to go with it. 

Padma's teapot. A while back Padma tweeted she'd be selling her teapots and things on HSN so I decided to check out what she was offering. What I found were these stunning glass teapots with blooming teas to brew within. These would make quite the entrance on your tea time or after dinner table. Totally perfect for the serious tea drinkers in your life (don't we all have a number of them?). I like the Aladdin Jewel Teapot but she has others on the HSN site as well. 

So these are nine things I think would make for welcome additions to any home fond of entertaining. I know we are now into Hanukkah and coming right up on Christmas so if you love these ideas but won't receive them in time for the holidays wrap up a photo of the item and then have it delivered to the recipients house. 

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