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Dinner Party 101


Have you been to one of our classes? Asking for a friend. A friend who can’t figure out how to serve dinner and get everything to the table at the same time (or at least close). If you have been to class, you may have noticed that we get everything to come out at the same time, so you get to eat all the food together. Or most of it, appetizers don’t count, you serve those first. Masters of time travel? Nope. We just are good time managers, and you can be too. So, if the thought of trying to time your dinnertime makes you break out in a sweat, this blog post is for you. Here’s how to get it ALL to the table at the same time. We’re even going to give you a game plan! There are some very basic steps that you need to go through to get food on the table when you want it. Some of them are preliminary so that you have things ready and in place, before you start while others boil down to thought processes…AND ABOVE ALL, not getting stressed out about getting it on the table.


If anything will get in your way, it is having an anxiety attack about whether you’ll be able to make it happen. So, take a deep breath, read through my helpful hints, and put them into action step by step. Organization and preparation are your friends…get to know them and WELL! The first steps should be in place before you start cooking. So, get out your recipe or your instructions or whatever you’re going to use and start there. I’m going to assume you’re using a recipe. 1) READ THE WHOLE RECIPE TWICE (I’M SERIOUS!) This might seem like overkill, but I promise you…it will work. You might pick up on things you didn’t see the first time. It’s like "Measure twice, cut once." 2) MAKE A CHECKLIST OF ALL INGREDIENTS I love checklists and you should, too! So, make a checklist then go into your pantry and your fridge to see if you have everything you need. If you don’t have something, either time to go to the grocery or look for a substitute (that’s another blog post). 3) HOW LONG IS/ARE THE RECIPE(S) GOING TO TAKE? Do you have time to make it and is it possible to get all of them to be ready at the same time? Usually, recipes tell you exactly how long you’re going to need to complete it. The really helpful ones break it into "prep time," "cooking time" and "inactive time." Sometimes, it’s just not going to work, and you need to know that before you start. If it’s impossible, and that can and does happen, change your recipe choice. It’s okay to do that! You don’t run a marathon when you start a workout program. You just want to put together a nice meal for friends and family. 4) RESPECT THE ORDER OF THINGS Sounds weird, right? But there is a place for everything and everything in its place. There’s a reason for doing things in a certain order and taking that into account. This applies not only to timing but also to the way foods go together. 5) GET FAMILIAR BEFORE GOING “ROGUE” The first time, make the recipe as it is written to get familiar with it. Once you see how it cooks, you will have a better idea of how you might want to change it (or not). After you have read your recipe (twice), made an ingredient checklist, and know how long it’s going to take for everything, and have imagined when each thing should be finished: It’s time for the game plan. Yes, this all takes some thought and planning, sorry! Write every step down until you get comfortable with the whole process. This is another one of those situations where you need to be familiar with the process before you go crazy. START WITH SIMPLE PROJECTS! THAT MEANS NO THANKSGIVING DINNER (RIGHT NOW)! These are general guidelines that work. Figure out what takes the longest to cook/prepare and use it as your guide. You can back out the timing on everything else using the longest/most involved item as your jumping-off point. Here’s an example: Risotto takes 30 minutes, steak takes 15 minutes to grill (including heating the grill time) with 5 to 10 minutes to rest and salad can be done while the meat is resting and the risotto is finishing (the last five minutes where you cover it, take it off the heat and let it stand). Yes, you need to do some multi-tasking, but you can do it! Since I don’t know what you will be cooking, specifically, these are guidelines, again, NOT WRITTEN IN STONE.

 

THE GAMEPLAN Two days before your dinner or event: Make a list, grocery shop and get organized – this is where you make sure you have every ingredient you need. The day before: Read through your recipes and anything that you can make ahead of time, do it now For instance, sauces that can be made, refrigerated, and then warmed up or meat that needs to be marinated The morning of: Make marinades, prepare salad greens, and cut vegetables. You can do all the chopping, and slicing, just all forms/types of preparation Two hours before: Marinate meats (check the recipe for marinating times) Do a final check of your process One hour before: Take meats out to come to room temperature (not chicken – no more than 30 minutes) Arrange and organize your workspace with ingredients 30 minutes before: Preheat ovens/grills Warm sauces slowly over low heat Par-cook vegetables/potatoes During appetizer/cocktail hour: Bring friends /family into the kitchen to help You can have specific jobs for them so that everything comes out together. REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN! IT’S A PARTY IN THE KITCHEN! FOOD, WINE, TUNES, FRIENDS, AND FAMILY!

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