Hinda Bodinger, along with her husband and two kids, bought my childhood home when my parents retired more than a decade ago. Since then she and her family have welcomed me and my family to come and visit whenever we're in the neighborhood. She's also been a big supporter of my book and this blog.
This morning Hinda e-mailed with some dinner party ideas:
Your friend Pamela had excellent advice – do whatever you can in advance so you can actually ENJOY your guests. That is what makes Ina Garten’s recipes so good (and they are usually reliable too!)
My advice too is to make lists – and then once you have your menu set, type it up, print it out and tape it to a kitchen cabinet. For one thing, it makes it much less overwhelming to see what you are doing, and what you have done and to get a good mental picture of it all. And for me, it insures that I remember to put everything out! I have had the experience of forgetting to serve an entire side dish.
I have a friend who, on the day of the party, puts out all of the serving dishes she is planning to use with little notes in each one of what goes it what. It saves her from searching for that perfect bowl at the last minute, or needing to WASH that perfect bowl at the last minute. I always thought that was a good idea. She also pairs them with serving utensils.
I recommend making Chicken Marbella, an impressive EASY recipe from back when The Silver Palate cookbooks were all the rage – you MUST prepare it in advance, and it is fine to serve at room temperature. Huge hit always. You could serve it with a nice rice dish.
Italian pasta dishes are also a great way to go – with a big salad and some crusty bread, usually everyone is quite happy. (unless they don’t eat cheese, in which case you would need to have something with just a red sauce to go along with it).
Good luck – have fun planning!
I also recently heard from my college friend Heidi, who has been living in Paris for years. Heidi has been watching my culinary progress with amazement since she remembers not so long ago when I told her I didn't know how to cut vegetables (for real!)
Eggplant parmigiana sounds like a good idea. The breading the eggplant probably needs some practice, but you could try a couple of times to get it down. Then when it's good, you know that you can prepare it in advance and just put it in the oven and be fresh and pretty for your guests. You could serve it with some great fresh Italian ingredients - simple food but excellent and full of love for your guests.
My mom is also pushing for an Italian meal.
She sent me an e-mail yesterday:
Maybe you should serve Lasagna with a salad, Italian bread and Tiramisu and make it an Italian night. You can even serve Chianti.
Have fun with the planning. That's the hard part. After that, it's a piece of cake.
Yum. A piece of cake sounds good about now. Meanwhile, keep the ideas coming!