You just want to bring some family and/or friends over for a gathering that includes good food and jovial and thoughtful conversations. You don't need to overthink it - the party is not for the Queen and won't reflect on your merits as a person. It's just a fun gathering. So To-Table offers this very simple guide in the spirit of helping you approach throwing a party in a relaxed way. This is meant to help those who experience excessive trepidation, and then just give up, watch Seinfeld, and complain about the lack of invitations.
- Invite Guests. Seems simple. But remember, 4 to 6 guests are easy to cook for and are enough for a festive evening even if one of them is "off". Too many more, and the fear of a big ordeal will never be overcome. And you probably have enough place settings left to accommodate this size group.
- Plan Main Course. Obviously, for To-Table, this step is the most fun. We have found that you can either get recipes first and then ingredients required, or, we think a little more fun can be had by looking at ingredients and then finding a recipe to match. As an example, for the main course, you find foods you really feel you want to cook. Maybe a roast, maybe game or fowl. You can peruse To-Table's product list and jot down those things that sound really good. Then enter the ingredients (say, for example, quail and foie gras) into your search engine and see what appears. You can now chosen an incredible recipe from literally hundreds of choices. You can decide based on difficulty, other seasonal ingredients that you could include, or any other factors.
Plan Sides. Many recipes you end up using will give you ideas for sides
or again you can redo step 2 for the sides.
- WIne. Not much effort here. You may already have it but a good pairing is important and most wine shops or liquor stores offer sound advice.
- Dessert. If you like to make desserts, go for it. If not, think cheese and fruit trays or buy something at your favorite bakery.
- Appetizers. We think you should keep it simple unless you are an old hand at the dinner courses. Terrines, cheeses, salamis and other charcuterie, crudite, or other ready to serve types of appetizers keep the stress down (don't overlook prepared quail poppers).
- Cook and chop ahead. Make the day of the party a time for cooking - not for preparing. Anything that can be prepared in advance should be. During and before the party, you want to be able to simply combine prepared ingredients and sauces in front of your guests with casual flair that makes Julia Childs appear stressed out.
- Set the Table Ahead.
- Prepare the Bar - with everything but ice ahead. Remember that guests enjoy your food even more with proper beverages before the meal! (No- not always alcoholic)
- Enjoy. If you have undertaken steps 1-9, you are certainly committed and reasonably ready. Just relax and enjoy. People will love the creation that is your meal and it will lead to a pleasant evening (or lunch) that fosters stronger relationships, hearty laughter, and and more complete existence.