Monthly Archives: November 2012

Passion Parties

Making a personal passion the focus of a party is a good way to forget your fear of home entertaining.

A friend of mine found that, like her, some neighbors are big fans of a certain cult movie series, so she decided to host a cocktail party to celebrate their common interest. Not much of a cook, she served tea sandwiches, which she could quickly assemble in advance. New friendships were created and everyone-hostess included-had a wonderful time!

Another friend, who is planning a luncheon for some friends from Weight Watchers, vowed that she wasn’t going to make herself crazy about the menu. “Everyone already seems to think this get-together is the most wonderful idea,” she marveled. Relaxing into the fun of the day, she came up with the clever idea of creating placemats by laminating the recipes of the diet-plan dishes she’ll be serving.

Parties like these differ from theme parties in at least one significant way. Theme parties can exacerbate pressure with expectations of crafty decorations and theme-appropriate food. Passion parties tend to shift the focus from performance to pleasure.

M-M-M-Mushrooms!

To make mushrooms taste their best, don’t take them out of the sauté pan until the liquid they exude has evaporated and they are beginning to brown.

Forgot To Defrost?

Forgetting to defrost the Thanksgiving turkey may be the most nerve-numbing nightmare to afflict any hysterical hostess. So on the eve of this most anxiety-inducing annual entertaining event, I thought I’d pass along a surprising discovery that you may find comforting: You can cook the turkey in its frozen state and end up with a fine result. If this information is correct (and it comes from a trustworthy source, although happily I haven’t had to try it) then what else is there to fear?

This good news comes by way of The Washington Post (“Thanksgiving food science: Five holiday flubs explained,” Nov. 13, 2012) in an article by Robert L. Wolke. Wolke warns that trying any “quick-thaw schemes,” such as soaking in water or microwaving, before putting the frozen bird into an oven set at the recommended temperature of 325 degrees, would be asking for food poisoning. But he adds that otherwise the process is thought by such authorities as the FDA and USDA to be safer than defrosting, since the turkey won’t be dripping contaminated juices all over your refrigerator and counter as it defrosts.

Please don’t try this method without looking at the article accessible at the link provided. Then read it and rejoice!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/thanksgiving-food-science-mix-and-mash-spuds/2012/11/12/1ce9db88-1a42-11e2-aa6f-3b636fecb829_story.html

Important: Wolke also discusses some other common Thanksgiving disasters. One is gummy mashed potatoes, which can be caused by mashing them with a food processor, blender, or electric mixer. If you got to the very bottom of the do-ahead mashed potato recipe I included in my last post or read the revised post after I added the cautionary note, you already received this warning. If not, let me make clear that to avoid a gummy texture it’s smart to use a potato masher or ricer rather than an electric appliance.

There won’t be a Thursday post here, since I’ll be away enjoying a relaxing dinner prepared by some generous cousins. This year, among other gifts, I’ll be giving thanks for having you, loyal readers! Whether you’re cooking or not, I wish you a very happy, hysteria-free Thanksgiving.