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Maria Helm Sinskey, culinary director of Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley and author of the phenomenal cookbook The Vineyard Kitchen, offers 17 recipes and 22 more quick ideas for simple yet spectacular entertaining.

Superfast Hors D’Oeuvres

Tapenade-and-Anchovy Crostini

Spread small toasts with olive tapenade; top with white anchovies.

Red Pepper Jelly with Fromage Blanc

Shape fromage blanc into a mound and spoon store-bought red pepper jelly generously over the top. Serve with sturdy crackers.

Wasabi Tobiko-Chive Dip with Chips

Mix wasabi tobiko with sour cream and chopped chives. Season with salt; serve with thick potato chips.

Smoked Salmon-Stuffed New Potatoes

Roast new potatoes in a 375° oven, then scoop out the flesh and mix well with cream cheese, chopped smoked salmon and dill. Stuff into the baked potato shells.

Baked Piquillo Peppers

Stuff whole piquillo peppers with chunks of queso fresco coated with bread crumbs. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with more bread crumbs and bake in a 375° oven until the cheese melts.

Superfast Main Courses

London Broil with Mustard Bread Crumbs

Sear London broil steak on both sides, then coat with a thin layer of mustard and top with bread crumbs. Roast in a 400° oven until medium-rare. Slice thinly to serve.

Pasta with Arugula and Bacon

Toss hot pasta with arugula, crumbled bacon, tomato sauce, crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Roast Fish with Olives and Peppers

Top white-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or sea bass with chopped Niçoise olives and roasted red pepper strips and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Bake in a 375° oven until the fish flakes.

Harissa Chicken

Toss chicken pieces with harissa, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Roast in a 400° oven until juices run clear.

Saffron Shrimp and Farro

Sauté shrimp until cooked through. Steep saffron in a little hot water; add to the shrimp with butter, cooked farro and cooked peas and heat through.

Superfast Vegetables

Endive-Frisée Salad with Oranges

Toss Belgian endives and frisée with mandarin orange sections and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with sesame oil and seasoned rice wine vinegar.

Smashed Garlic Potatoes

Smash boiled new potatoes, then roast in a 425° oven with butter and olive oil. Fry sliced garlic and capers until the garlic is golden. Add chopped parsley and red wine vinegar and toss with the potatoes.

Roasted Cavolo Nero Bread Salad

Drizzle cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) leaves with olive oil and roast at 400° until tender. Chop and toss with toasted bread cubes, balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.

Sautéed Mushrooms with Pancetta and Escarole

Sauté mushrooms, then add bite-size pieces of escarole and cook until wilted. Add crumbled cooked pancetta and toss with red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Superfast Savory Gratins

Creamy Baked-Cheese Pasta

Mix cooked fresh egg pasta with crème fraîche, shredded cheese and chopped thyme. Bake in a 375° oven until golden and bubbly.

Cauliflower with Buttered Crumbs

Toss cooked cauliflower florets with heavy cream and shredded white cheddar cheese. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and top with cracker crumbs mixed with melted butter. Bake in a 375° oven until golden and bubbly.

Broccoli-and-Orecchiette

Bake Sauté sliced garlic in olive oil. Mix with chopped broccoli, cooked orecchiette, chicken stock and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake in a 375° oven until golden on top.

Herbed White Bean Gratin

Mix cooked giant white beans, such as gigande, with heavy cream, chicken stock and chopped thyme. Top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake in a 375° oven until golden on top.

Superfast Desserts

Holiday Rum-and-Chocolate Trifle

Brush sliced pound cake with raspberry jam. Layer with whipped cream flavored with rum and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Mint Ice Cream Brownie Cake

Line a springform pan with crumbled chocolate brownies. Top with softened vanilla ice cream mixed with crushed mint candies, sprinkle with chopped chocolate and freeze. Serve with chocolate sauce.

Pear-Ginger Crumble

Toss ripe diced pears with sugar, vanilla and flour. Top with a butter, brown sugar and flour streusel and crushed gingersnaps. Bake in a 350° oven until golden and bubbly.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon-Ginger Frosting

Mix softenened cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice and ground ginger. Spread on store-bought gingerbread cupcakes.

Published December 2006
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