Recently our friend popped by for a quick Sunday afternoon visit. I was in the kitchen washing the dishes from breakfast as I heard her boots clatter in through the front door -- and then, suddenly, a shrill yelp filled the room, almost causing me to drop a plate onto the kitchen floor.
No, the house wasn't on fire; and no bones had been broken. She had just spotted the new Martha Stewart book sitting on our coffee table.
This may sound like an overly dramatic response to a simple book sitting out on a table, but in truth, Martha's Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations is anything but ordinary. This elegant must-have volume exudes grandeur, paying homage to all things gorgeous and delightful on the plate and in entertaining.
A revamp of Stewart's 1982 classic Entertaining (which has been credited as "the book that launched an empire"), Martha's Entertaining is already being noted by critics as "Stewart's most personal book yet." And once you open this tome of all things good, you'll quickly see why -- every image, story, decorating idea, and recipe has been taken straight from Stewart's home and her own parties that she's hosted in the past year for friends and family.
Featuring four seasons of parties broken up into three major sections (Mornings, Afternoons, and Evenings), Martha's Entertaining welcomes readers into her life for summer backyard barbeques, simple breakfasts, picnics, and even into her family's dining room for intimate holiday meals. This bible of all things homemade ranges from the most simple of occasions to the most elaborate, and doesn't exclude anything in between.
Photos of her family, her adorable dog Paw Paw, and her closest friends are included throughout, and beyond that, the collection allows for an indulgent inside peek at what it's like to live in Martha Stewart's shoes -- the decorations and decor that she uses; and the recipes that she serves when she's aiming to please.
In the introduction's opening paragraph, Stewart notes:
"More than thirty years have passed since I wrote my first book, Entertaining, and a great deal has transpired in that time. The basic tenets of good entertaining remain the same, but the interest in global cuisine and its preparation, in so-called exotic ingredients, and in distinctive table settings and lush flower arrangements has flourished. Everyone wants secrets and shortcuts, tips and hints, easy instructions, fabulous recipes they can trust, and above all, new inspiration, so their own adventures in entertaining can be ever more unique, more extraordinary, and more innovative."
I will be the first to say that this is an incredible book -- and an excellent holiday gift idea for the special entertainer in your life who loves all things crafty, delicious, and decorative. Because really, when it comes down to it, everybody knows that Stewart is the goddess of all things homemade and gorgeous.
For a tasty sneak peek into the 100 pages of recipes included in the back of this volume, here's a holiday goodie that we think you'll like. Straight from Stewart's own dining room table to yours!
Chocolate Brownies with Ganache Topping
- 1 cup plus 6 Tbsp. (2 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more, melted for baking dish
- 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70% cacao), finely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- Ganache topping (recipe follows)
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with melted butter. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on long sides, and butter parchment. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly.
With an electric mixer, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy. Fold in chocolate mixture, then fold in flour and salt until combined. Pour batter into prepared dish, and smooth top with a spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool in pan. Using parchment, lift brownies from pan, and let cool completely on rack. (Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.)
Cut brownies into 1 1/2-inch squares. Fill a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip (such as #18) with ganache, and pipe a rosette on each brownie. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.
Makes about 3/4 cups
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. milk
- 1 tsp. light corn syrup
- 1 tsp. unsalted butter
Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a heavy saucepan, bring cream, milk, corn syrup, and butter to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to combine. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and let stand 5 minutes, then stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally. Ganache will thicken as it cools.