Life is pretty busy these days with graduate classes, leading food tours and participating in a community garden program…to name a few. But that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to enjoy the summer entertaining season with friends.
I’ve developed a few techniques on how to always be “party ready,” no matter when the mood might strike for a last minute gathering, over the years. Here are a few tips on how you can always be “party ready”:
Serve Brunch: No matter what time of day, brunch is a universal meal that offers the best of breakfast and lunch. The best part is that most ingredients are commonly found in your fridge or pantry. I turned to my version of a vegetable frittata to be the star.
Keep a Casual Menu: Don’t even think about stressing over complicated food with a ton of options. Keep things casual by selecting a menu that is prepared in unique ways while continuing to utilize classic flavors. Prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe slices required no cooking and made for a beautiful presentation on the table.
Be Inspired By What You Have: Rushing to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for an untested recipe can be time-consuming and could be a disastrous. Take a quick peek inside your fridge or pantry for inspiration. I always have mixed greens, balsamic vinegar and olive oil on hand. Topped with crumbled feta cheese, sliced strawberries and pine nuts; my random selection of ingredients was transformed into a crisp spring salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
Get Your Guests Involved: This was a hard technique to master because I like to be in control in the kitchen. Once I loosened my grip, I started to let my guests help with dinner preparations. The experience was liberating and I began to enjoy entertaining more. For my party this weekend, guests Jonathan and Kevin were placed in charge of a Bloody Mary station. Jonathan tapped into his beverage making skills to create the most perfect tomato juice base. Kevin was given the opportunity to try his hand at merchandizing the vegetable toppings to use with our drinks.
Have a Florist Friend in Your Contact List: This has come in handy on many occasions when I’m in a pinch for fresh flowers.
Buy Dessert: This can be the most time consuming part of the meal. I’ve found my guests are usually so full from the main event; they don’t want a heavy dessert to weigh them down. That’s why I decided to purchase a variety of fresh baked treats from a local Pittsburgh market for this party.
So now it’s your turn. What are your tips for always having a “party ready” home?