We had a couple friends over this past weekend for dinner. We don’t entertain very often, so when we do, I like to go all out. Lots of good food, good wine and good music. The most important thing about a dinner party takes place before anyone takes their first bite: the planning.
I’m very practical when it comes to party planning. I don’t want to be in the kitchen all night, catching bits and pieces of conversation in between chopping and sautéing. I want to be in the thick of it all night long! So planning a meal where food is easy to either prepare ahead of time or with minimal kitchen time is key. Also, I never want to make anything too complicated, otherwise we might just be ordering pizza…
Dinner Party Recipes for 4 people:
For this dinner, I decided to turn to my Ina Garten cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, for inspiration. I absolutely love Ina. Watch Barefoot Contessa on Food Network and you’ll see what I mean. Also, the word “foolproof” is in the title. How hard could it be?
**I’ll apologize in advance: there are not many photos since I’m still new to this whole blogging thing and forgot to take any but I wanted to share anyway so trust me, you’ll live.**
Mustard Marinated Flank Steak:
Totally tendarized by scoring and then soaking in marinade of dijon mustard, dry white wine, olive oil, shallots, garlic, and fresh tarragon. Marinade the night before, then only 10-15 minutes on the grill. You can google this recipe or buy the book, trust me the photos alone will make you drool.
Truffled Mashed Potatoes:
I ordered truffle butter from an online gourmet food shop, D’Artagnan. I peeled and cubed the potatoes a couple hours before and put them in to boil as soon as our friends arrived. These potatoes were a HUGE hit, and my husband even said they’re the best he’s ever had (a real compliment since his mom’s are pretty darn good, too).
This isn’t out of my cookbook, but it’s still Ina’s recipe nonetheless. It’s the easiest recipe and with it, it’s quickly made asparagus my husband’s favorite vegetable. The tops get just crispy enough. I prepped the asparagus before dinner so all I had to do was pop in the oven and hit the timer. Divine!
The Perfect Cheese Board
With the main course on the books, I wanted to serve an appetizer that was just as delicious but also just as easy to prep ahead of time. What is easier, or more delicious, than cheese? There are a few general “rules” regarding putting together a cheese plate, and sure, I read them, but then I just picked what I thought was interesting and would taste good. You really can’t go wrong with cheese! Here’s how it turned out:
Regarding dessert, I let our guests have the honors. It always takes some of the stress off the hostess if she can delegate a course or two. It helps when your friends are pros in the kitchen and are preparing to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
Finally, and call me a dork if you want, but I like to put together a music playlist to have on throughout the evening. Adds a little ambience, you know? To end this post, here are a few of my fave songs right now from my “Dinner Party” playlist. Cheers!