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Winter is Coming

    Photo by Julia Gartland

    Winter is Coming

    Winter is coming and for many of us, it means cozying up indoors and seeking out activities that bring warmth and comfort. For some, it may be binge-watching Game of Thrones in its entirety in under 2 weeks (yes, it’s possible). For others, it may be preparing scrumptious meals and the joy that comes from sharing your table with those you love, no matter the number of guests. Here are some yummy recipes to share at any occasion.

    Cocktails for a Crowd:

    Miniature Crab Cakes, Smoked Salmon Puffs, and Potato Latkes with Salmon Caviar make for a lovely cocktail party or first course. They can be made ahead and either reheated or assembled later so you can spend more time with your guests.

    Game Night Dinner for Four:

    For your pre-game night dinner in front of the fireplace — bridge, Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity — serve something elegantly casual. Rich and luxurious Creamy Tuscan Salmon, easy stove-top Crab Mac and Cheese, or classic Shrimp Risotto are quick to prepare and don’t require too much prep or clean up, leaving you ample time to find that perfect triple word score.

    Entrees for Eight:

    When cooking for a crowd, I like to choose dishes that can be prepared in large quantities and ahead of time, at least in part. These first-course Crispy Fish Cakes can be cooked early in the day and reheated just before guests come to the table. Similarly, Salmon Wellington (make two, trust me) can be assembled ahead and then popped in the oven 45 minutes before dinner.

    For maximum delivery with minimal effort, nothing beats a giant pot of simmering seafood stew. Italian Seafood Stew, (cioppino), is redolent of tomatoes, fennel, garlic, shrimp, and white fish, and can be made well ahead, adding the seafood minutes before guests are served. Likewise with Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo: Make the gumbo base the day before (it gets better the next day), then reheat it and add the shrimp at dinnertime.

    Brunch or Lunch for a Bunch:

    For visiting houseguests, after a morning of shoveling sidewalks, or after an epic snowball battle, rejuvenate with any or all of these brunch dishes. These Smoked Salmon and Chive Drop Biscuits and Smoked Salmon Spread can be made ahead. The flavors of the spread deepen overnight, but the biscuits are best fresh out of the oven. Just prep the dry and wet ingredients separately and refrigerate overnight. The next day, combine wet and dry, scoop into mounds, and bake when ready to sit down. Quiche is a brunch classic and this yummy Smoked Salmon and Leek Quiche can be served with a green salad or vegetable. Make it ahead of time, then reheat it when ready to serve. Like a warm hug, this New England Fish Chowder is comfort in a bowl.

    Whatever our tables look like, whatever brings us joy and comfort this winter season, I wish everyone a warm and cozy December.

    - Grace

    Photo by Julia Gartland