Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dinner Party

I don't do a lot of these, but when I do, I think I can pull them off pretty well. The secret is simplicity and a few shortcuts here and there. Oh, and also timing. Because no one wants to attend this dinner party waiting for the osso buco to be ready.

1. Shortcuts. For the appetizer I did a crawfish cake over sauteed shredded brussel sprouts and a mustard cream sauce over. The crawfish cake was not homemade- in fact premade at Whole Foods and just warmed up at my house. The sauce and sauteed brussel sprouts... yes, those were homemade, but didn't take long at all and only used 1 pan. Which brings me to my next dinner party hint.

2. One Pot Meals. You're having people over. You're likely going to be serving them an appetizer, entree and dessert which means at the minimum 3 different dishes. Cut down on dishes and stove top clutter by sticking to meals that can be made with as few pots and pans as possible.Crab boil for example uses 1 pot but yields not only crab but sides like potatoes and corn.
3. Add something special. The appetizer can be as simple as cheese and crackers, but served with homemade strawberry jalapeno jam can really make it seem well thought and add a level greater than just throwing some cheese on a plate. For this dinner I did a crab boil, but served it alongside some beer I picked up at Starr Hill Brewery and recommended for a rich, buttery meal, like crab served with butter. It's easy but shows thought, and is also a great talking point.
4. Simple can still be impressive. An everyday banana cake recipe is a snap to make and yields 2 layers. Using just nutella from the jar as both the filling and frosting takes just seconds to spread over. It can also be made ahead of time, as much as a day, so you aren't scrambling while entertaining. Not exactly an award winning cake looks wise but the homemade factor and deliciousness is all you need to impress your guests.

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