EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 20, 2013

Recipes for an open house

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — For that annual Christmas party, or perhaps your first open house for neighbors and friends, or simply a get-together with a few members of your family, here are three very good recipes that will give you more choice as you plan what you would like to serve.

The dessert is a show-stopper and would be delicious with a hot drink, and the Cheese Canapés alongside a bowl of high quality pimento-stuffed olives, provides substance to accompany a cocktail. And who wouldn’t like to make a toast to the New Year with homemade eggnog?

If you are having a party with many guests, don’t hesitate to mix your homemade selections with foods purchased from local gourmet shops and bakeries. It is a shortcut that will leave you more time to enjoy your guests. Set around bowls of snacks that are not every-day fare such as spiced nuts, cheese straws, and pecan cheese logs.

Two suggestions for a large get-together that I think are great: hire a high school student as wait-staff to re-fill platters, pick up used glasses, etc.. They certainly can use some extra money at this time of year. Secondly, if you know someone that plays an instrument such as the piano or violin, have them play for an hour or two. I have a friend who has a brother that plays the piano and I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him, especially with plenty of notice. Your party will be extra special for sure.

Mocha Cream Torte

Serves 10 to 12

This dessert is meant to impress, and it certainly does that. It is a delicious cake that will make a beautiful addition to your holiday dessert table.


For cake:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

22/3 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup baking cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

1 cup boiling water

For topping

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1 teaspoon hot water

2 cups whipping cream

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

6 Heath candy bars, crushed

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, whisk till mixed well; add to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each addition. Dissolve coffee in water; add to batter. Beat for 2 minutes.

Pour into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 16 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, than turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For topping, dissolve coffee and hot water in a bowl, let cool. Add cream and brown sugar. Beat till stiff peaks form. Place a cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 1 and 1/3 cups of the topping. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Heath candy.

Repeat with the other 2 layers; store in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

Pimento Cheese Canapes

4 tablespoons block cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon finely grated onion

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons chopped pecans that have been toasted

1 2-ounce jar diced pimiento, undrained

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 loaf party-style pumpernickel bread slices

Place cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Stir in mayonnaise, onion, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.

Add cheddar cheese, pecans and pimiento; stir well.

Cover and chill up to 3 hours.

Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Serve with bread slices, halved if desired, and a bowl of pimento-stuffed olives on the side.

Holiday Eggnog

Makes 10 1-cup servings.

There’s something so special about homemade eggnog; and it is surprisingly quick and simple to whip up, literally. Whether for your Christmas get-together or a New Year’s party, I hope you enjoy it.

8 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

3 cups whipping cream

3 cups whole milk

1 cup light rum (optional)

Nutmeg for garnish

In a large bowl, beat eggs at highest speed until lemon colored. Add sugar; beat until thickened.

At low speed, blend in cream and milk. Stir in rum if using.

Pour into punch bowl or individual cups; lightly sprinkle with nutmeg.

Good to hear from you

Hello Pat: I can’t wait to try making the Snickers Candy Recipe that was in today’s paper. If it is kept in the refrigerator, how early can I make it?

You are wonderful to share all these family recipes with your readers — thank you.

Regarding homemade treats, attached is a recipe for chocolate fudge that I have been making for 45 years.

A little about the recipe, my twin grandsons turned 18 recently and I have been making this recipe with them since they were 2 years old; one child on one side of me and the other child on the other side, making two batches of fudge (one with nuts and one without). My husband would rescue me when it came time to pour the ingredients from the pan to the prepared casserole dishes. Those are memories that I cherish, especially when the boys recall standing on a chair to stir the fudge and all the silly things that happened in between. True joy if you ask me!

I will again be making the peppermint bark recipe that was in your column in a previous year — everyone loved it.

My husband also makes caramels (from a Betty Crocker book) and pizzelles. Everyone seems to enjoy the homemade treats. Have a wonderful Christmas!


Dear Pat: Would you please send me the recipe for that wonderful wedding apple cake that I missed reading about. I am a faithful reader of your column.

I have many of your recipes in my book. Thanks so much, Pat.


Dear Katie, I have sent you the entire column so that you could read about the “Wedding in the Orchard”; it was quite special and beautifully done.

The recipe for the wedding cake, Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, is at the end; so moist that people wanted seconds.


Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com, or send a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope when writing care of The Eagle-Tribune, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845.