Making a gingerbread house for Christmas takes time and patience, and sometimes you need a helping hand. On Saturday, Brown's Bakery, 1397 West Main Street, will hold a gingerbread class from 3 to 5 p.m. that will provide everything you need to make the traditional holiday centerpiece. It's $20 for adults, $10 for children younger than 12.
The bakery also will make desserts for your holiday parties. The deadline for orders is 4 p.m. Dec. 23. Choices are pumpkin, pecan, transparent, bourbon- chocolate-pecan, chocolate meringue, butterscotch and fruit pies; coffee cakes (apple, cherry, blueberry); and chocolate chip and Italian cream cakes, and yule logs. Quiche and dinner rolls also are available. Call (859) 225-8400.
Tea cakes at Great Harvest
Great Harvest Bakery is offering tea cakes for gift-giving. Flavors are cranberry-orange, chocolate brownie, pumpkin-chocolate chip, banana walnut, pumpkin-cinnamon chip, berry sour cream, apple spice and blue ribbon blueberry. Locations are 3735 Palomar Centre, (859) 223-7603, and 2121 Richmond Road, (859) 266-2915.Glenn "Buddy" Westbrook has added a holiday touch to his cookbook, A Collection of Heirloom Kentucky and Southern Recipes.
He has included a printed card with holiday menus, along with page numbers for recipes, and suggestions for homemade food gifts, such as peanut butter rolls. The cookbook is $14.99 at bookstores and gift shops, or at Buddywestbrook.com.
What's new in food
Marian Salzman, a leading trend-spotter, predicts the top food trends for 2011.
■ Goodbye cupcakes, hello pies that are hot and fresh out of oven. Trendy chefs across the country are experimenting with sweet and savory, layered and thick-crusted, and they are even baking wedding pies in place of cake. Pies are being filled with local, seasonal fruits and nuts or new, ooey-gooey combinations.
■ Restaurants whose entire menus revolve around one type of food are giving new meaning to the term "specialty shop." Many new dining establishments are narrowing their focus to one item, whether it be meatballs, burgers, mac 'n' cheese, pasta, fried chicken, mussels, chocolate cake, cupcakes or crepes. There's even a shop that sells only rice pudding.
■ A movement taking hold across the nation is that of serving vegetarian fare on the first day of each week. Meatless Monday initiative began in 2003, but this year the movement seems to finally be catching on.
■ As vegetarianism grows in the United States, produce is becoming the star of the show, not just some side dish. Vegetarianism is up in the United States. Surveys show that 7.3 million adults adhere to a vegetable-based diet, and haute vegetarian restaurants are predicted to take off in the near future.
■ Restaurants might still provide heaping helpings in most cases, but there's movement in the opposite direction. Small plates are big news in the food world these days. Mini portions are gaining in popularity. The small-plate movement's aim is to promote healthiness.
Perfecting the pie plate
If pies are going to be big next year, then we should take a look at what we're using to bake our pies.
Cook's Country tested seven new models of pie plates against their old favorite to see whether manufacturers have improved on your grandma's pie plate.
The staff tested Chicago metallic perforated pie pan, Corningware SimplyLite 9-inch pie plate, Crispy Crust pie pan, Doughmakers pie pan with crust protector, Norpro non-stick pie crust pan with shield, Pyrex Advantage 9½ -inch pie plate, Pyrex Bakeware 9-inch pie plate and Rose's Perfect Pie Plate by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
The Pyrex Bakeware 9-inch pie plate was the clear winner. The testers said it provides slow, steady, insulating heat for even baking. Its shallow, angled sides prevent crusts from slumping, and it's just 11⁄8 inches deep, which neatly fits a store-bought crust when we don't feel like making our own.