One no-fail stylist secret is gathering things in mass on trays. It works in the living room on your coffee table, for home accessories, and even on the dining room table. It’s a universal stylist trick. When I’m hunting flea markets and vintage shops, I’m always on the lookout for trays to add to my I prop stash. They’re just so versatile.
Trays make plating food simple and fabulous, and styling with them is a tool of the trade you’ll want to have in your repertoire. Next time you have a party to plan, look around the house for trays to repurpose. Think outside the box, and you will wow your guests.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to use trays:
For an unexpected centerpiece: Gathering guests around the table will never be a problem if you place a beautiful tray of bruschetta (or any other nibble!) in the center.
For salad, beverages, and desserts: Try turning the tray upside down to use it as a riser on the table.
For a beverages station: Gathering glasses for guests to help themselves always makes for a beautiful display.
For entrees: Using a gorgeous wooden tray instead of a ceramic platter adds instant style to your table.
Today I’m sharing a zippy summer dessert recipe for espresso caramel sauce. I made it for friends in Italy a few years ago, and I might have to recreate it again soon. It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!
Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8 on ice cream or pound cake
You will need:
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream
Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.
Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.
To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.
Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.
These lovely little two-bite parmesan crisps are savory and salty with a crunch—perfect to serve with a chilled citrus-y glass of Prosecco or Rose. It’s a quick appetizer that uses parmesan cheese with a combination of tomatoes – tomato jam to be exact.
The tomato jam here is the star of the show, but you’ll love the addition of mozzarella and basil too. These bites make a great addition to any menu for a summer soiree.
Two Bite Parmesan Crisps Makes about 32
For the Tomato Jam: You will need: – 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 garlic clove, chopped
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 4 large heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To prepare: Place ingredients into a medium pot over medium heat for 15 minutes, set aside to cool. This step may be done a couple days in advance, and placed in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to use.
For the Parmesan Crisps: You will need: – 8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
– Place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on a cookie sheet fitted with a silpat.
– Arrange the spoonfuls about 3 inches apart as they will spread to form round crisps.
Place in a 350 F degree oven for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before assembling the appetizer.
To assemble: – 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
– 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Place a dollop of jam on top of the crisp, and add cubes of mozzarella and garnish with a basil leaf.
Ciao from Italy! As you might already know, I arrived in Italy last week. Since then, I’ve been welcoming guests, preparing our commercial kitchen and guests quarters, and getting ready for a summer of workshops. Needless to say, it’s been a bit crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend back in the states. Memorial Day weekend often marks the unofficial start to summer. I’m sure many of you will be spending the weekend enjoying cookouts with friends and family.
If you’re entertaining, I’ve got a wonderful festive summer cocktail for you: the Negroni Fizz. Not only is this drink a bold red (perfect for Memorial Day), but it’s a crowd pleaser too.
Mix-up a big batch without the rose and put it in a cute drink dispenser. Then, allow guests to fill their glasses at will. Leave ice buckets of rose nearby for attendees to top their drinks. This will keep the bubbles fresh and add a fun little DIY to the party.
To really make a statement, find some cute blue and white paper straws, too. Super festive and fun.
You will need:
– 1 ounce Gin
– 1 ounce Martini Sweet Vermouth
– 1 ounce Campari
– 1 1/2 slice of orange for garnish
– Ice cubes
– Martini Sparkling Rose
Combine Martini Rosso and Campari Gin in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into an ice filled tumbler 3/4 full and top off with the Martini Sparkling Rose. Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy.
While summer doesn’t technically start for a few more weeks, I always think of Memorial Day as the unofficial launch of the summer season. Is there anything more quintessentially summer than s’mores? S’mores are one of those gooey foods that are as fun as they are messy. Seriously. Have you ever NOT had fun making s’mores? I didn’t think so.
These fire and ice s’mores are a twist on the traditional. I’m adding homemade vanilla ice cream to mix things up. Of course, you can stick with the original ingredients, or you can give this one a try. No matter what, make s’mores a part of your Memorial Day Weekend gatherings.
Fire and Ice S’mores
You will need:
– Marshmallows – Quality chocolate (try dark chocolate for extra indulgence)
– Healthy graham crackers – available at specialty markets like Whole Foods
– Sea Salt
– Olive Oil
– Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe below!)
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
You will need:
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 3 vanilla beans – split lengthwise
– 2 large eggs
To prepare ice cream:
Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Heat cream mixture just to a boil. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, while whisking. Pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer.
To Prepare S’mores:
Have guests assemble their S’mores outside by the fire.
In the meantime prepare individual bowls or glasses with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with a teaspoon on Olive Oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
Have guests grab a bowl and dip their s’more into the ice cream.
*Cooks’ notes: ·To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. ·Custard can be chilled up to 24 hours.