Could you host a dinner party at a moments notice? Summer tends to be a time of year where dinners are thrown together and off the cuff and full of friends and good conversation and flights of crisp cool wine and refreshing cocktails.
The trick to feeding a whole host of people on a whim is having a well stocked pantry. Or cupboards. Along with a fridge and freezer stocked with a few basics that will keep you from running scattered brained to the grocery moments before your guests are to arrive.
Gah! The thought makes me nervous just thinking about it … so lets avoid sweating in the grocery line behind the slowest people on earth as you watch the clock on the wall tick away as you calculate the minutes it will take to get home, finish dinner, fluff the couch pillows (err…hide the mess), and change your outfit from yoga pants to dinner-party ready. With perhaps, make-up. OK, maybe just lipgloss and blush. Messy buns are still in, right?
I am not saying that a quick trip to the grocery on the way home from work prior to dinner isn’t going to happen. But with a well stocked pantry, your grocery list may only contain 2 or 3 items and will get you in and out through the Express Lane and back in your car in under 10 minutes. Promise.
So tip #1 for throwing a dinner party with style, grace, and ease…a well stocked pantry. (and let’s be honest, this will help for most nights of the week where pizza delivery isn’t involved.)
Tip #2. Goes along the same lines and includes a simple yet comprehensive bar...or in my case…a small section of counter dedicated to cocktail magic. Anyone have a good bar cart for sale? Dry household? Skip to step #3.
Tip #3. Know your guests. Vegetarians or vegans in the mix? Any allergies or aversions you should be aware of? If you aren’t sure, ask…you will be happy you did and so will your guests. No one wants to use an Epi-Pen at a dinner party. Trust me.
Tip #4. Prepare dishes you have made several times in the past so you aren’t met with any surprises halfway through cooking making you order in Chinese. If you would like to try a new dish, make it a few times before the said dinner party….a dinner party is not the time experiment with new recipes unless you like sweating it out in front of a crowd.
Tip #5. Ask for help and accept offers of help. This is a trick of so many host/hostess that make throwing a dinner party seem merely effortless. Let your wine snob of a friend bring drinks. Delegate to the person who lives close to the bakery bring the bread. It is OK to ask and accept help!
Tip #6. Do not make anything that will distract you from your guests for long periods of time. NO! Don’t do it. An omelet station sounds cool but leave that to the diner down the street. Pizza parties however are cool…as long as you get the party goers involved and make the dough well ahead of time.
Tip #7. Enjoy the party and don’t worry about imperfections in and around your house…guests understand that you LIVE in your home. It’s cool. It makes us, the guests, feel OK about our messes we left at our homes. We are actually quite thankful you don’t live in a Pinterest perfect house.
The great folks at Anolon – the creators of some of my favorite pots and pans, asked me to create a dish that would be perfect for an impromptu dinner party – as part of their Grab and Go Cook Campaign. I was more than happy to work with Anolon – as I already love their pots and pans, especially since their Advanced Bronze Line can go from stove top to oven (max temp of 400F), making life in the kitchen a breeze with fewer dishes at the end of the night. Winner winner!
(don’t be like me and just grab the handle to remove the pot from the oven or to move the pot from counter to table or to pour risotto into serving dish. that is right, I grabbed it and wrapped my fragile little hands around the scorching handle 3 TIMES! because I am a total airhead)
When hosting a party – you want to impress AND you want to chat with/enjoy your guests, not hovering over a hot stove acting as short order cook with droplets of sweat running down your temples. Risottos impress…but letting the oven do the work, you get to mingle and have a glass of wine or two. It is a trick that you will return to again and again. Baked risottos are where it’s at! And the shrimp…done in mere minutes and can be done right before serving and when your guests are finding their seats. Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Grilled Pesto Shrimp will definitely win over every single guest.
Head on over to Anolon for the recipe and let us know what you think!
And now the super amazing bit….A GIVEAWAY!! Anolon is providing one lucky reader of Fork Vs Spoon with an 11 piece set of Anolon Advanced Bronze Cookware (299.99 value!). To enter, please leave a comment below letting us know what is your go-to dish for a dinner party. Also, earn an extra entry for following Fork Vs Spoon on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram along with Anolon on Facebook and/or Twitter. Just let me know in the comments section of the new follow or if you already follow. I will announce the winner on August 8th.
Cheers to your next dinner party!
AND THE WINNER TO THE GIVEAWAY IS AMBER. CONGRATS! Please watch for an email in your inbox from myself. Thanks, again everyone for stopping by and sharing!
*Our opinions, made possible by Anolon.