I love entertaining at home – it’s more comfortable and relaxed than going out, and I get to choose what we eat and drink.
- DO NOT use new recipes for the first time for a party, or at least not more than one. Make sure you use recipes you’ve tested and perfected.
- DO plan out in what order you’ll start cooking the dishes, according to each dish’s cooking time.
- DO NOT try to trim the fat. Sometimes when I cook, I use less butter, cream or cheese than a recipe calls for to cut down the calories and make the dish healthier. Or I substitute butter with extra virgin olive oil. Or use low-fat versions of things. But do not do this for guests! Parties call for decadence so feel free to use extra butter!
- DO prepare whatever you can the day ahead – be it a pie crust, a beef stock, chopped garlic or filling the salt and pepper shakers. Starting party preparations a day before greatly reduces any possible stress that cooking for guests may cause. Also, prepare the tablecloth, napkins, plates, silverware, stemware and platters…which brings me to my next point…
- If you are expecting ten guests or under, DO use glass plates and real silverware! No paper or plastic! Using real dishes serves two purposes. 1.) It is much more appetizing to eat from real dishes as opposed to disposable ones, and 2.) It lets your guests know than you don’t mind doing the dishes for them or taking the extra time to fill the dishwasher. If you’re expecting more than ten guests, you might simply not have enough plates for everyone, in which case it’s okay to use disposable plates.
- DO NOT forget to chill the drinks that need to be chilled! And DO make sure you have enough ice.
- DO surprise people! Don’t be afraid to serve interesting, unexpected foods and flavors. Your friends trust you and they’re more likely to broaden their flavor horizons with your encouragement. Besides, wouldn’t they feel super-guilty knowing that you spent all day making escargot and chocolate-covered bacon and they didn’t even try it?
- And above all, DO enjoy yourself! Yes, it is stressful overseeing the food and drinks, and making sure your guests like everything (and that they’re getting along, right?) but don’t forget about yourself. Once all the food is served, relax, grab a drink and enjoy your friends’ company.
Here are some dishes that I recommend for parties: