Nothing is more fun than bringing friends and family together for dinner. I’ve been throwing dinner parties of every size and style for many years now. From two to two hundred guests, denim casual to tux-and-tie formal, long-planned to last-minute, intimate conversation to dynamic celebration, comfort-food favorites to exotic international fare-it’s all part of my entertaining repertoire today. Along the way, I’ve discovered countless tools to help make these dinner parties, luncheons, barbecues, and cocktail gatherings successful. These are the tools that I’ll be sharing with you in these pages. My favorite recipes, my shortcut tips, my do-ahead suggestions, even a few menus that offer detailed game plans for pulling off a special dinner. You’ll be entertaining with style and ease in no time.
Throwing a Great Dinner Party
The most important lesson I’ve learned about entertaining is that it’s about creating an experience for your guests, creating a memory for all to share. It does not have to involve the most elaborate dishes, expensive ingredients, hippest table setting, or most highly rated wines. While there certainly is some “fancy” food among the recipes that follow, you’ll find a wealth of dishes that have stood the test of time, whether in my own family’s recipe archives or because they are among the traditional American favorites. But don’t worry. When you want to “wow” your guests with something stylish and striking for a special occasion, you’ll find plenty here to fill our your menu.
To help you put on a wonderful party with minimal stress, I provide with every recipe two important tools that will help in your planning. First is Menu Ideas. Here I’ll prompt you with some recommended dishes that will partner well with the dish, either an item to server alongside, or recipes to consider serving before or after to form a full menu. The other tool you’ll find with each recipe is the Do-Ahead Tips. These are key resources for you to help economize your time, particularly for a larger dinner party with multiple course to prepare.
What I want most to accomplish with this book is to give you the confidence, the building blocks, the tools to help you pull together great dinner parties, celebratory luncheons, or any other delicious gathering of friends.