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December 2010 Issue
Start Planning Them Early
by Christine Szalay Kudra
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If you are going to have guests visiting you during the festive period, you might like to start planning your Christmas party now. Too many people leave the planning until the last minute and then start to panic, realizing they have no idea how many people to invite or what to cook for them! Christmas can be stressful enough without giving yourself more problems by not planning your food and drink arrangements in time.

Christmas appetizer recipes tend to be hot and delicious. Spiced appetizers are popular. Roasted chestnuts are a real Christmas classic and you might also like to make a pot of ginger-spiced carrot soup or mouthwatering potato and leek soup to warm up your visitors.

 

Carrot Soup With Ginger

    This soup makes the kitchen smell wonderful. You can serve it before dinner as a delicious Christmas appetizer. This warming soup can be garnished with some shredded carrot or shaved ginger and this recipe makes about ten servings.

    Melt quarter of a cup of butter in a four quart pan, then sauté two chopped onions for five minutes or until they are translucent. Add two tablespoons of peeled, grated fresh ginger root and cook for two minutes.

    Add one and a half pounds of peeled, thinly sliced carrots and six cups of chicken stock or three cans of chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer it for fifteen minutes or until the carrots are tender. Blend the soup in batches until it is smooth, then put it back in the pan and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve it hot.

 

 

Roasting Chestnuts

    The best chestnuts for roasting are Maroni chestnuts because they are big and meaty. The smaller Castagne chestnuts are better for boiling. They should be firm and shiny brown. Make a little cut in the rounded side of each one, else they will explode when you cook them.

    You might like to invest in a chestnut roasting pan to use on the stove. This resembles a pan with holes in the bottom. People used to use a terracotta baking dish to roast them over hot coals but the modern way is easier.

    Put the chestnuts in the pan and sprinkle water over them. Cover the pan and put it over a moderate heat. Shake it often while the chestnuts are cooking. When the skins have gone black and pulled back from the inner meat, they are done. This will take about seven minutes in total. If they are really burnt, you did not shake the pan often enough.

    You can also put the chestnuts cut side up on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees F for twenty minutes or until they are tender. When you can stick a fork through the cut in the shell, they are ready.

    Wrap them in an old towel and squeeze them hard before you serve them. This crushes the skins and makes them easier to peel. Leave them in the towel for five minutes before you unwrap them, for the best results.

 

Start your Christmas planning well in advance for minimum stress. Do not forget to plan which easy party appetizers you are going to serve. You might like to stick with traditional winter appetizers or add variety by offering some favorite summer appetizer recipes as well.



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