Funny, I was running on a treadmill when this wonderful gut-bomb of a recipe came into my life. Naturally, I was watching The Barefoot Contessa and she was planning a romantic weekend with Jeffrey, prepping the meal ahead so they could spend the day at Sag Harbor and have a montage of Ina laughing (what a laugh!) while Jeffery awkwardly asks, as if it’s spontaneous, “How are you going to make dinner tonight if we’ve been running around all day?” Ina winks at the camera because we know, like she knows, that the mac and cheese is already made. It’s in the refrigerator next to the lemon curd for the lemon tart. Jeffery has no idea what’s coming and the whole thing is so riveting, I’ve gone three miles and don’t want to stop. Such is the power of watching Ina at the gym.
One of the best things about being a home cook is the opportunity to show off your cooking chops to family, friends and loved ones at a dinner party. Some out there plan dinner parties meticulously; every detail is accounted for, from the crystal that’s to be used for the wine, to the palate cleanser between entrees and dessert. Others go about things much more casually: the grill is fired up, sausages and burgers and passed around on a platter, and beer is a do-it-yourself affair. Grab your own from the ice bucket.
Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is the kind of dinner party that I like to throw. And after years of throwing them (almost eight years, to be precise) I’ve learned a thing or two. And for those of you who are new to throwing dinner parties, here are some things that you might be doing wrong. (Consider this a corollary to my Huffington Post piece: “10 Things That You’re Doing Wrong at Restaurants.”)
You may recall a post, back from September 15th, 2008 called “How To Cook For A Group.”
In that post, I whined about how I wasn’t good at cooking for a group: “The truth is that to impress a large group of people, you’ve got to cook large. Some folks are better at cooking large than others; I’ve come to discover that I am far superior at cooking small. I’d much prefer to cook for four than to cook for fourteen: I’d rather roast a chicken than a whole pig, I’d rather man a single skillet than a giant grill.”