Entertaining with Ease and Style

It is easier than ever these days to entertain by inviting your friends and cooking up a delicious meal. With the mass communication systems that we now have the world has become smaller. We are now exposed to the cuisines of the world. This allows us to present many different and imaginative menus to our guests. With a little creativity it is possible to combine foods from one culture with another.

These days much of the entertaining that we do is more causal and alfresco. The kitchen has become a focal point and guests are invited to participate in the food preparation. With everyone pitching in and mingling in the kitchen the chef is under less strain for everything to be perfect. It also allows for visiting while the food is under way.

There are still occasions when more formal entertaining is required. For these occasions planning ahead makes the task much easier. For a starting point you should send out your invitations early to ensure the guests are able to make the occasion.

Next pick a theme. This can be decided on by the reason for the gathering, the time of year, the food you plan to serve, or the weather. If you are celebrating an anniversary, a birthday, the birth of a child, a goodbye party, or an engagement the theme is obvious. If you are holding your dinner in the fall, winter, spring or summer the theme can focus on the season. For a menu that reflects a special cuisine for example French, Italian, Asian, English Pub fare, or southern dishes the theme can reflect this. The weather can also influence your theme. If it were cold and wintery outside a meal by a cozy fire would be nice. If the weather is warm it is nice to set your meal outside.

There are many ways to reflect your theme. Table settings are usually the focal point of all meals. The use of napkins can aid in dressing the table for the occasion. There is a small book by Linda Hetzer The Simple Art of Napkin Folding that shows you 94 different folds that each set a scene. This is a very economical way of producing your desired look. The use of either flowers or small props can further enhance your theme. For example for an Asian meal set little red envelopes and fancy black lacquered chop sticks at each place and they will tell the story. For a southern meal fancy parasols and ladies hats decorating the dining room will create the mood. The use of table linens can definitely define the occasion. There is nothing like a starched white linen tablecloth adorned with fine china, silverware, and crystal to state that this is a formal traditional meal.

More and more we have moved outside to host our meals. The barbecue has become a focal point and backyard eating is standard fare in the warm weather. These dinners can vary from the extremely causal affairs when all the family members and children gather. On these occasions the food is planned to cater to all the age groups. Hot dogs and hamburgers are stables for these events. Grownup entertainment can center on delicacies from the barbeque. There is also the opportunity with a little creative thought to have more formal meals in the garden. Especially for people living in areas where winter is cold it is nice to be out enjoying the garden in summer.

In planning the meals one rule of thumb is constant and that is to use as many fresh food items as possible. Almost everywhere there is a huge quantity of fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables available. The meal should be planned with a balance of both taste and texture. A creamy soup should be followed with a crunchy salad. As we eat with our eyes a balance of color is also very important. For each course there needs to be a little color on the plate. For that vichyssoise a little chopped green onion or parsley sprinkled on top makes it look more appealing.
For maximum enjoyment of the occasion select some recipes that can be made at least a few days before the occasion. Sit down and plan the meal from beginning to end. As you do this draw up a grocery list and a work schedule. Find out where you can buy the fresh ingredients you need and where you can quickly pick up the last minute items. The more you can plan ahead the less fatigue and stress you will feel. After all entertaining is meant to be fun.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Food preparation is not an exact science. Sometimes our mistakes create interesting new tastes. A very good rule of thumb is to read the recipe before starting. This seems like such an obvious step but there is hardly a cook alive who has not found themselves in the middle of a recipe only to find out that they are missing a key ingredient or that they were suppose to save something for a topping or that they were directed to do the first step before proceeding to the next step.

If you have decided on an elaborate meal it is nice to have a second pair of hands to help. That person can assist with tasks like cleaning up the kitchen as you go, setting the table for you, procuring the wine and taking on the job of serving it.

On the other hand meals do not have to be elaborate. It is perfectly fine to start with trays of fresh vegetables, a soft cheese and crackers. Guests are happy to have simple things to munch on with their drinks as everyone settles into the event. Dessert can also be simple fresh fruit with or without cheese. This leaves the chef to focus on the main dishes of the meal.

The idea of a good meal is to restore the spirit. Being able to share these wonderful food dishes with friends and family can be a joy. The more you entertain the easier the process will become.

About Pat Tate

Always a very busy person Pat has been interested in cooking and collecting recipes. In an effort to sort out a mound of favorite recipes and to be able to pass them on to the next generation she started this site Family, Foods, and Friends. Again she invites people to join her and to share their cooking adventures.

Related Posts:

Subscribe without commenting