Food is the key to a great event. Aromatic, flavorful, come-to-me mouth-watering food.
Great food can cover up any worrisome home decorating issues which scurry about in our heads prior to having guests over. Is my sofa good enough? Should I rearrange the furniture? (Only if you followed my floor plans post.) Do I need to paint the walls? Seriously, if the food you serve is amazing nobody will notice.
I was reminded of this fact this summer as a co-host of the Blogger Retreat this summer. The man who made me look good was Chef Derek Paterson. Wait, don’t run away – my point is not one needs a chef. If you can cook, you’ll be just fine.
Chef Derek, having been part of the planing of like a gazillion events in and around Toronto, is going to take over to offer his tips on how to we achieve a stellar event. Welcome Chef Derek…
To start, the food has to provide an incredible visual… and of course to taste even better. More importantly, you want it to be simple and very easy to put together so you’re not spending all your time in the kitchen preparing the food. A good party means you are out mingling with your guests.
1. MENU – Come up with menu ideas that can be made a day or two ahead. The more you can get done early the less stressful it is. And the more relaxed you’ll be when your guests arrive and the party has started.
2. SERVING – When having a cocktail party, serving finger foods or for room temperature passed foods at a sit down affair, prepare and arrange on serving dishes earlier in the day, dressed and ready to go. This makes it easy to have your serving area or table all ready when guests arrive.
For hot dishes that will be passed, make them 1/2 hour before your guests arrive and put them on serving dishes and keep them in your oven or warming drawer. Setting your oven to 180 degrees is a great holding temperature.
3. SET-UP – Have all food pretty much ready to go before guests arrive.
Buffet style works the best for a party where you’ll be sitting down. It’s so much easier on the host of the party. The last thing you want to be doing is carving meat in your party dress… Chaffing dishes are a life saver. Gives you time get other things ready.
A lovely sweet table with all the bad stuff we love to eat is a festive way to handle dessert. Not a lot, a few items are plenty. It is a party, it is okay to be a little indulgent.
Thank you, Chef Derek! Enjoy his food tips on his blog and do try his easy appetizer recipe below.
Lisa’s Tips: Get all your serving pieces out a day or so ahead of time, do an arrangement run-through. Put little sticky notes on plates, platters, slabs of marble – whatever you are serving on, so you remember what goes where. In all the activity it is easy to forget your original intentions.
Servings: Makes 12 servings
12 mini potatoes Red or Yukon Golds
2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese
4 slices maple smoked bacon , cooked until crisp and crumbled
1 tablespoon minced chives
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water; bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt; cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Once cooled, slice a small piece from the top and the bottom of each potato. Transfer to a medium bowl; toss with oil, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Place potatoes on a baking sheet. With a paring knife, score top of each potato. Top each with equal amounts of blue cheese and bacon. Bake until cheese melts, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Photos courtesy of Courtney M. Price and Derek Paterson