What a spread! A holiday celebration at home should be as much fun for the hosts as for friends and family. With a little advance planning, the goal of effortless entertaining is suddenly within reach. First, make it brunch, typically lighter and simpler to prepare than dinner. Buffet style is another smart choice — just arrange the dishes on pretty holiday linens and invite guests to serve themselves. Half of the work is done when you go with full-flavored imported Italian cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano and Montasio, and air-cured hams like Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele. As PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) products, they belong to a special group of high-quality European foods that can be made only in specific geographical regions.
Four dishes that add up to a no-stress brunch buffet:
• A frittata with the deeply savory flavors of Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It’s equally delicious warm or at room temperature, whichever is more convenient.
• Thumbprint biscuits featuring melted Montasio cheese in the indentations on top — a clever touch for biscuits made with ready-made dough.
• Another brilliant two-ingredient recipe consists of eggs baked in Prosciutto di San Daniele “cups.” They are crisp, creamy and irresistible.
• Festive garnishes for a salad of deep green kale leaves, tossed with orange vinaigrette, include Grana Padano shards, pears and pine nuts.For more information on the PDO system and holiday recipes using these legendary cheeses and hams, visit (www.legendsfromeurope.com).
Montasio Cheese Thumbprint Biscuits
Yield: 8 biscuits
1 package store bought ready-made biscuit dough
1 cup coarsely grated Montasio cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Separate biscuits onto a parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet. With your thumb, press into center of each biscuit to form a small well. Fill each well with 2 tablespoons of the grated Montasio. Bake until tops are golden, about 8 minutes. Serve immediately.
Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano Frittata
Yield: 4 to 6 portions
8 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma, torn into 1-inch pieces
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (2 ounces) coarsely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350°F.In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk with an electric beater until frothy; add pepper. Stir in the Prosciutto di Parma, scallions and cheese. Heat oil in an 8-inch oven proof skillet; add egg mixture and cook over medium heat until edges are set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in oven and bake until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
Eggs Baked in Prosciutto di San Daniele Cups
Yield: 12 portions
12 slices Prosciutto di San Daniele
12 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Fold one slice of Prosciutto di San Daniele in half crosswise to make a rectangle. Fit into a muffin cup. Crack egg into lined cup. Repeat with remaining ham and eggs. Bake 10 to 12 minutes to desired doneness.
Kale Salad with Grana Padano and Citrus Dressing
Yield: 5 cups
1/2 pound kale
1 large Anjou or Bartlett pear, sliced
1/2 cup Grana Padano shards
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons white wine or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Remove ribs from kale and cut into 1-inch ribbons; place in a large salad bowl. Add pear, cheese and nuts. Whisk together orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss.