Riverside, California (NAPSI) - When the party is at your place, impress guests with a winning dish and this expert cheat-sheet from author and "Top Chef" judge, Gail Simmons.
Chill out before the party: Cook more food than you think you need. That way, you'll be prepared if more people show up—and you can always eat the leftovers. Prepare a few chilled side dishes ahead of time so you can focus on mingling instead of the oven.
Put your best food forward: The easiest recipes pop with unexpected, gourmet presentations. Drizzle bright sauces on sparkling white plates or layer desserts in crystal-clean glassware. Check out my easy Bumbleberry Pie Sundae recipe below. When served in individual cocktail glasses, it looks and tastes great.
My secret weapon: If you're too tired to tackle the dishes after the party, or do not have a full, weeknight load, dirty dishes can wait until morning if you use Cascade Platinum. Not only does it scrub away 24-hour stuck-on food without pre-rinsing, but it also prevents unappetizing residue on dishes and filming on machines.
Bumbleberry Pie Sundae
3¾ cups mixed berries, well washed and divided (any combination of strawberries hulled and quartered, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries halved)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 pinch coarse sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 pint raspberry sorbet
6 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 cups of mixed berries, 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice over medium heat, until the blueberries begin to burst and the other berries break down, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the pinch of salt. Puree half the berry mixture in a blender until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan, and stir well to combine with remaining fruit. Allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, crush remaining 1¾ cups of mixed berries with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar using a fork, until slightly chunky and loose. In a large bowl or stand mixer, using a balloon whisk or hand-held mixer, beat the cream at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold the crushed berries into the whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve: spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce into each of 6 parfait or rocks glasses. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a sprinkling of crushed graham crackers, and a pinch of lemon zest. Add a scoop of the raspberry sorbet, and another 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, and finish with another sprinkling of the graham crackers and another pinch of zest. Serve immediately.