Everyone dreams of channeling the Barefoot Contessa, entertaining at home with good food and good company while always being the gracious hostess. Honestly though, for many of us, dinner parties are more about ordering takeout and putting it on a fancy plate–not really something Ina Garten would be proud of.
Thankfully, we have our own entertaining editor and restaurateur Kate Anzani. She gives us some tips on how to throw a fancy party without all the fancy prep. With ingredients bought at Rustan’s Fresh Supermarket, she gives us easy dishes to whip and impress your guests.
A cheese platter is an easy way to make your table look more put together. Kate suggests including a familiar cheese, like cheddar or mozzarella, so the less adventurous don’t get intimidated. There should also be a variety of textures and flavors–the general rule of thumb is to include variety each of aged, soft, firm and blue cheese.
Everything you serve on the side is just as important as the dairy. Bring out crackers or sliced baguettes as something to spread the cheese on. Jams and condiments help to bring out the flavor of the cheese, as does some nuts and dried fruit.
Also, make sure you don’t forget the wine! Some serious gourmands will go all out in the selection–like, champagne for the camembert or the Parmesan with the chianti, for example. If you want to be more cavalier about it, just get a good bottle of red and white each, and enjoy.
TALE OF TAPAS
The Spanish tradition of appetizers and small plates is one that’s celebrated internationally. Bring it home to your own dining table–it’s easy with just a few key elements and a little bit of plating skills.
Have slices of meat ready. This Bresaola features a strong salted beef flavor, and can be eaten on its own or with cheese and arugula. Follow that up with some flavor, like this Spicy Chorizo drizzled with olive oil. Anchovies (or boqueron) is a salty addition to the table, which goes well with toasted bread. Finish it up with an interesting addition, much like this Gin & Tonic-infused Smoked Salmon.
A simple combination of ingredients come together in finger food that only looks complicated to make. Kate explains that it’s really all a secret of knowing which flavors go with what. Follow this simple cheat sheet for the hors d’oeuvres that’ll have friends thinking you’ve been taking cooking lessons.
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, November 2016. | Photography Ezekiel Sullano