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A Holiday Letter to Martha Stewart

by Robin Benzle

Dear Martha Stewart,
I just received your tear-stained letter. I’m so sorry to hear that you “completely lost it” and “went off the deep end” from the pressures of having to live up to the image of “being so damned perfect.” It was bound to happen. As far as your Christmas party goes - sure, I’d be delighted to give you some pointers on what to serve. (I understand completely why you’re “drawing a complete blank” and have “finally run out of ideas”.) I just wish you would have contacted me sooner. Before you reached the point of “bull-dozing your kitchen into rubble” and “pummeling the pulp out of your chickens with a rolling pin”. Anyway Marty - buck up, kid, and go lie down somewhere and relax awhile.Knit some doilies or something.I’ve enclosed some easy hor d’oeuvre ideas for the holidays. And don’t forget to be practical and throw this in your junk drawer for future reference. Oh I forgot - you don’t have one.

Merry Christmas, anyway,
Robin Benzle

Put a pretty dish filled with miniature marshmallows next to an unscented candle and a thing of toothpicks on the coffee table for a mini roast.

Wrap raw, peeled shrimp with strips of good Bavarian ham, secure with toothpicks, brush with grainy brown mustard and broil till done.

Make square meatballs by pressing 3 pounds of your favorite meatloaf mixture into a 9 x 13 pan, baking till done, and cutting into 1” squares. Serve with a favorite dip, like pesto or salsa.

Top thick cucumber slices with crab salad seasoned with a little curry powder, and a sprinkling of dried dill leaves on top. Mix together a bunch of grated Swiss cheese, grated Parmesan, bits of sun-dried tomato and just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together. Spread on party white bread and broil.

Spread soft flour tortillas with butter that you’ve mashed with a little spicy brown mustard; then one layer of thinly sliced Provolone cheese, then Genoa salami; roll up and cut in 1” pieces.

Brush pretzel rods halfway up with melted white chocolate, roll in chopped cashews or sprinkles, and dry on waxed paper.

Using bagelettes, make open-faced miniature lox and bagels with cream cheese, and top with minced red onion.

Top Brie cheese that you’ve softened in the microwave until almost runny with coarsely chopped walnuts fried in a little butter and sprinkled with brown sugar, and serve with butter crackers.

Bake little red potatoes, cut in half and remove some potato with a grapefruit spoon.

Stuff with a dollop of sour cream with chives, and at the last minute, top with red and/or black lumpfish caviar.

Stuff the smaller leaves of Belgium or French endive lettuce with goat cheese that’s been softened with a little milk and seasoned with bits of cooked, smoked bacon; and top with toasted pine nuts.

Stuff deviled eggs with good chicken liver pate and top with a little piece of tomato and coarsely ground white pepper.

Mix together sour cream, marshmallow creme and a dash of dried mint flakes and use as a dip for fruit.

Make Barbie burgers by frying miniature ground sirloin burgers and serving on little dinner rolls with appropriate garnishes.

Fill a big bowl with hot, homemade mashed potatoes; form a well and fill with canned beef or chicken gravy that’s been doctored up with a little wine; and stick plastic spoons in it.

Whirl brie cheese in a food processor along with a chunk of butter, some minced garlic and a plop of tomato paste; spread on French bread, broil until bubbly and cut into 1” strips.

Cut very thin slices of peeled sweet potato, deep fry until golden orange, drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve while still warm.

Brush melted semi-sweet chocolate on pieces of good nut brittle and let dry on waxed paper.

Cut cooked lasagna noodles in half widthwise, spread with pistachio-chicken salad and roll up.

Boil bratwurst in beer until done and beer has evaporated, cut into chunks while still in pan, and stir in a mixture of equal parts prepared brown mustard and cherry jelly until coated.

Chop canned artichoke hearts and stir in bits of cooked lobster, grated Parmesan, a dash of dry sherry and enough mayonnaise to moisten.

Bake in casserole dish until top is browned and serve with simple crackers or French bread.

Fill mushroom caps with barbecued beef and bake until mushrooms are slightly softened.

Heat a cast iron skillet 10 minutes. Dip big scallops in melted butter, roll in dry Cajun seasoning and fry in just a few drops of vegetable oil until blackened on both sides.

Coat good chocolate-chip cookies with melted milk chocolate that’s been enhanced with a splash of Grand Marnier, and let dry.

Slightly beat two egg whites, stir in 1/2 cup sugar and some cinnamon, and two cups pecans. Spread on buttered baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for half an hour. Let cool and break into pieces.

Make slits in jumbo cooked shrimp and stuff with homemade fortunes wrapped in plastic wrap. Serve with a side of dipping sauce.

With a fork, mash together crumbled blue cheese and butter, spread on miniature English muffin halves and broil. Top with fried miniature lamb patties that have been seasoned with salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

©2009 by Robin Benzle.



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