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10-Second Recipes: Not All Desserts Need to Be Sweet

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

Not only did Los Angeles' High Tea Cottage serve cake as part of a 90th birthday high tea celebration in honor of the Queen of England earlier this year, but their everyday tea services rival the world's best. That's because they've instituted an innovative serving technique that immediately highlights and adds interest to whatever they are featuring, and it's so simple you can easily emulate it yourself.

They use tiered dessert servers that many home cooks have tucked away and are available at most houseware shops (made of metal for use with insertion of your own plates or with pretty permanent glass levels). A signature of the popular teahouse is serving small single-serving desserts that ascend on the tower in sweetness.

This can be an inspiration for any type of party. Savory desserts or cheeses might begin the climb, followed by mini muffins and then more sugary sensations, like chunks of frosted layer cakes or glazed tiny doughnuts.

Below are some favorites I've created for a three-tiered server. All amounts are to taste.

Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!

Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.

  • Chop dried apricots and fold with dried cranberries or dried cherries and honey inside store-bought puff pastry dough. Brush with egg wash (mixture of egg and water), sprinkle with curry powder and black pepper and bake according to puff pastry package instructions.

  • With a melon baller or a rounded teaspoon measure, scoop out a ball of brie cheese (without any rind). Mix together strawberry jam, dried rosemary and dried mint. Lightly roll the brie balls in the strawberry jam mixture and then in poppy seeds. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, up to two hours before use, letting return to room temperature just before serving.

  • Mix one batch of whipped cream cheese with chopped walnuts, chopped dates and molasses and another batch of cream cheese with unsweetened cocoa powder, stevia and mini chocolate chips. Halve store-bought mini bran muffins and mini chocolate muffins and serve the bran muffin halves spread with the walnut cream cheese and the chocolate muffin halves with the chocolate cream cheese. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, up to two hours before use, letting return to room temperature just before serving.
  • Cut large slices of three different colored frosted layer cakes (such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) into mini chunks. Break a variety of cookies into crumbs, sprinkle coordinated crumbs on top of each of the three types of cakes. Mix three batches of store-bought whipped topping with dashes of almond extract, sweetened coconut and pure maple syrup and top each miniature cake slice with a dollop.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Wondering what to do with sweet summer corn? Consider shucking it and adding, as she directs, to Yvette van Boven's Buttery Corn Risotto from her "Home Made Summer". The corn, along with ingredients like leeks, shallots, bouquet garni, vermouth and Parmesan cheese, create a memorable seasonal specialty. The book is a few summers old, but remains a go-to for many admirers because of distinguished treats like that. Paris- and Amsterdam-based van Boven has a talent for bringing out the best of ingredients like summer lettuces, berries and fresh herbs. If you master her warm-weather masterpieces and haven't tried her "Home Made Winter", get ready to bundle up and enjoy that classic in the months to come.

Lisa Messinger  at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on


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