Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All you have to do is plan your day

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry
Several months ago my grandmother leaked out a secret, " oven hasn't worked in over two years."  Now this may or may not seem like such a big statement but it baffled my husband and I.  The hubs quickly asked, "How do make all those holiday meals?"  Her answer was simple and to the point, "Well, all you have to do is plan your day...and I use a toaster oven."

I am a firm believer in planning your day (or week), especially when it comes to holiday entertaining.  My mom may say I'm downright psychotic about it.  One important skill culinary school taught me, besides cookery, was the art of planning, scheduling and timing your food so your guests can enjoy the best and freshest meal possible.

You've decided on the style of party (buffet, cocktail, four course, etc.).  You've sat down and made your guest list, heck, you even sent the invites out one month in advance.  The menu has been chosen-and it is deeeelish.  You read through your recipes and have a shopping strategy.  You've establish a timeline...wait...what?  What do you mean a timeline?

The timeline in question is specifically for the day of the party.  Plan the order in which you'll make specific recipes by starting with the time of service, then work your way backward.  Take in consideration any recipes that can be made ahead or can be frozen.  Read through all of your recipes and take note of their cooktime.  Lets take a look at my Easter Brunch timeline to give you a little glimpse of how I plan my day...
 Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry
another winner from Ina Garten, via
yield:  6 servings; or a dozen appetizers
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 pound black forest ham, sliced
  • 1/2 pound Swiss Gruyere cheese, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.  Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and carefully roll it out to 10 by 12 inches. 
  2. Place it on a sheet pan and brush the center with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Place a layer first of ham and then cheese, also leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash.
  3. Place the second sheet of puff pastry on the floured board and roll it out to 10 by 12inches. Place the second sheet on top of the filled pastry, lining up the edges. Cut the edges straight with a small, sharp knife and press together lightly. Brush the top with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve hot or warm. 
***You can assemble this a few hours before cooktime and store it in the refrigerator.  I guarantee though, it will NOT last too long on the table.  A family and guest favorite!

    1 comment:

    Mama Pea said...

    Wow. You are organized. For our last dinner party, Lloyd made a timeline/list. It really helped him! He even commented on it!