It’s Restaurant Week and all of your favorite places are booked. The thought of going out to fight the crowds is daunting, still the need to interact with others is pressing and besides that, you’ve got to eat. Before you know it you’ve invited everyone over for dinner. Forget the shower; you need to pull together a dinner party in just a few hours. Throw some dry shampoo in your hair, slip into a belted tunic and make yourself a drink. This isn't a setback; it's an opportunity.
Go With What You KnowWhen you’re scrambling to put together a dinner party, don’t waste your time scouring the internet for new recipes or devising complex concoctions. Instead, blend basics with a few knockout ingredients. Think about it: macaroni and cheese wins out over caviar in my book any day, and if you add something unexpected, like sun-dried tomatoes, gouda cheese, or lobster tails, everybody wins.
Keep Some Quality Ingredients On Hand
Even if your typical nightly menu consists of grilled cheese, ramen noodles and Lean Cuisine, there is still a reason to keep some extravagant ingredients on hand. Toasted pine nuts add exotic flavor to pastas and salads, and pomegranates add an unusual flavor to sauces. A few high-quality ingredients can add flair to an otherwise conventional dish. If you keep some steaks in the freezer, you can serve up a quick beef satay with peanut sauce. Rich blue cheese or truffle oil can be drizzled for a delicious touch. Also, ingredients in your meal can also be used in drinks. Lemongrass, cilantro, jalapenos, and agave are a great pair to your favorite spirit.
Make It Family Style
You and your guests can create an old fashioned, charming dinner party if everyone can relax and have a little fun. If you try too hard for elegance, you may end up with a strained, stuffy experience. Instead, serve up a lively buffet where your guests can customize their meals. A taco bar with soft and hard taco shells, a few different kinds of fresh salsas, grilled chicken and steak and fresh cilantro gets your guests to mingle and shows off your laid-back charm. If you’re not into Tex-Mex, put together a trendy noodle bar with linguini, soba noodles and rice noodles set alongside a variety of sauces. Pan fry some strip steaks, chicken pieces, or diced tofu for a well-rounded meal that’s easy to enjoy but will make it look like you spent all week putting together the menu.
--on behalf of Nicole Adams of Omaha Steaks