When I was a caterer, I learned one of the most important rules of setting up a buffet table: Tall is Good. Height gives the table some drama. You can accomplish this with a big floral arrangement, or by putting the platters on boxes to lift them up. Or...you can do it with the food. These beautiful bread sticks, decorated with savory seeds, will be a conversation piece, both for their looks and their flavor.
During the holiday season, even those of us who already love cooking seem to expend a little more effort making meals for friends. To me, there is nothing that says "made with love" than homemade dinner rolls on a holiday table. The aroma of just-baked bread in the kitchen on Christmas morning is as wonderful as any fresh-cut Christmas tree--spoken like a true food fan. I have a big collection of buns, rolls, and breads (to be revealed in Ballantine's THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF SIDE DISHES next fall), but these fluffy potato have rolls become my favorite, and they will riding shotgun with my baked ham this year. Take a look at this tall beauty...Read on to find out why potato rolls are so wonderful. (Photo by Ben Fink.)
As I work my way through the 500 recipes in THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF SIDE DISHES, it is easy to repeat myself: "This is the perfect cold weather side dish." The truth is that there are a lot of perfect side dishes, which is just one reason why they are so beloved. But consider this dish. Roasted Brussels sprout, sweetened with maple syrup, balanced by salty crisp bits of bacon. It does give one pause. And if you can find a side dish that is a better match with a holiday roast pork or ham, not to mention a roast chicken, I'm willing to discuss the possibilities. (Photo by Ben Fink.)
Side dishes: Are they the best part of the meal? There a many people who think so, especially during the holidays when cooks go to extra efforts to create festive dishes for the big roasts that are (supposedly) the main attraction of the dinner. For my new side dishes book to come out in Fall 2014, I have been creating a large array of recipes that run from humble (but delicious!) weeknight fare to ones that are fit for company. This caramelized onion tart is a showshopper. The recipe follows... (Photo by Ben Fink.)