Monday, May 10, 2010

Easy Entertaining

We had people over for dinner every night this weekend- Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thinking about what to make when we are having guests stresses me out a bit. I bookmark lots of recipes in magazines, etc that I think would be a good meal to make when we have people over, but when it comes down to it I worry that they may not like an ingredient or that it won't turn out right (following the old principle of never make a recipe for the first time for guests). I think I hit the jackpot with this menu though- nothing difficult, not fancy but not boring, things that everybody likes with a bit of a twist. Trust me on these recipes- even if you have company coming and don't have time to test the dishes before hand!

Gougeres with drinks*

Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil Pizza

Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Pizza

Best -Ever Chocolate Cake with Berry Coulis

Makes about 24, depending how big you make them

Instructions below use an electric hand mixer. If you don't have one, beat with a wooden spoon instead but your arm will get tired. I didn't take a photo of these, but there's a good photo here
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups finely grated cheese - Gruyere is traditional, I used a mixture of Parmesan and sharp white cheddar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put the butter and water in a saucepan with salt and pepper, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, dump in flour all at once and beat with an electric mixer on low until mixture is smooth and forms a ball. If dough is a bit wet, put the pan back over low heat and beat for a minute until mixture dries out a bit. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating with mixer on low until combined between each addition. Stir in the cheese. Fill a small glass with warm water. Using a soup spoon (I think those are what the big ones are called that come with your cutlery set), scoop a heaping spoonful of dough. Dip another spoon in the warm water, then use this spoon to drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat, dipping spoon in water each time. Alternatively, dough can be piped onto baking sheet. Dough doesn't have to be spaced too far apart- gougeres will puff up, not so much out.

Bake 25-30 minutes- until puffed up and golden brown. Pierce the side of each puff with a paring knife after removing pan from oven- this will let the steam out so that they don't get soggy and/or deflate.

*the French drink these with champagne, but apparently they are also great with beer (I don't even drink beer when I'm not pregnant, so I wouldn't know)

  • 1 pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes- either fresh or from a can (I use PC Blue Menu Diced Tomatoes for everything)
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 6 or so large leaves basil, thinly sliced (julienned, if you will)
Heat oven to 425 degrees F with an oven rack on the bottom setting. Roll pizza dough really thin. Transfer to pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread with tomato sauce. Scatter tomatoes over dough and top with slices of mozzarella. Scatter garlic all over top of pizza, making sure there are no big clumps of garlic (the garlic kind of roasts in the oven and gets delicious). Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are browned and crisp, and cheese is melted melted and dry (I don't know how else to describe that- if the cheese isn't cooked enough there will be little puddles of water on top of the pizza). Top with basil after removing from oven. Cool 5 minutes before slicing.


  • 1 pizza dough (I used a whole wheat dough- the ingredients will stand up to this more full flavored dough)
  • 2 small or 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • salt and pepper, to season chicken
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese 
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (not fresh mozzarella)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F with rack on bottom setting. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in frying pan with oil over med-high heat until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove chicken to a cutting board and cool slightly. Roll dough as thin as you can and transfer to a pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread with hot sauce. Slice chicken thinly across the grain, spread evenly on pizza. Scatter blue cheese and green onions. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges are browned and crisp. Cool 5 minutes before slicing.


Go to Molly Wizenburg's blog Orangette for the recipe. I originally found the recipe in her book A Homemade Life. It was her wedding cake. Yum.

 For the chocolate component, I use 2 oz unsweetened chocolate + 5 oz Hershey's dark chocolate chips

This cake will keep 3 days at room temperature, or up to 5 days in the fridge. It won't last that long though. I suggest making this when you have people coming over that can help you eat it so that you and your husband don't polish it off yourselves within 3 days (not like that happened the first time I made this or anything)


  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (fresh works too- I just always have frozen berries on hand)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Strain through fine-meshed sieve.

This last bite of cake did not go to waste. Trust me.

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