1. Decide on you guest list. Invite your guests far enough in advance to make sure everyone will attend. Either call or send
Ask you guests if they have any food allergies or preferences.
If you want a dress code, specify this in the invitation.
2. Create your menu. Make sure the menu is compatible with each course. Check out Linda's
Dinner Party Menus (includes recipes and photos) for lots of great dinner party ideas.
Vary dishes: change the texture, temperature, spiciness
and/or color of what you serve to interest the eye and the palate. Feature
flavors that contrast but don’t clash. Balance a spicy dish with a mild
dish, a sweet dish with a savory dish. Try to use local foods that are in season.
Choose recipes you have already tried and tested.
This is not a good time to try something new if you are cooking yourself.
This will help to avoid any disasters and turn your dinner
party into a "hit." If you are making a new dish, please do a
trial-run and try the recipe out in advance.
Try to plan as many make-ahead dishes as your can. Keep the number of recipes that involve
last-minute preparation to a minimum unless you have lots of help getting everything on the table. Keep the meal manageable and within your comfort
level. When planning a menu, keep in mind three things:
(1) price, (2) seasonality, and (3) time.
Make a timeline for your menu. Once you determine the order of your menu, write it down.
Review each recipe and write down how long it will take to cook, at what temperature, how long the prep time will take (estimate if needed), and
what, if anything, can be done in advance.
3. Verify that you have the appropriate equipment to prepare each
dish at the right time, as well as, storage containers for any ingredients made ahead.
4. List every ingredient needed for each dish and check to pantry to see what you already have and what you need to purchase.
5. Make a grocery list of ingredients your need to purchase. Shop ahead of time for the ingredients needed to make the dishes you choose to serve.
6. Clean the house a couple of days in advance and just do touch ups the morning of your party.
7. Set the table in advance of your party, even a day ahead of time.
Presentation is as important for the table as it is for the food.
Choose a centerpiece low enough that everyone can see over and does not block anyone view.
Mise en Place is a French term for preparing all the ingredients for a dish in advance, such
as washing, trimming, chopping vegetables, setting out your spices and herbs, etc. Mise en place makes the actual process of cooking more efficient and helps prevent the cook from making mistakes or
discovering missing ingredients at a crucial moment.
Prepare your workspace by starting with a clean kitchen. There is also time to clean the mixing area as you go along rather
than face a counter full of mixing equipment when you're done.
Have every ingredient measured and ready to be used in separate bowls
or cups (or combined if the ingredients are being cooked at the same time).
Clean and dry salad greens, and store in a resealable plastic
9. Decide if you are serving alcohol or not. Decide and purchase the wine you will be serving in advance of the dinner.
If you are not sure on what types
of wine to serve, ask a wine steward or sommelier. Sometimes I even ask my guest to bring wine.
10. Seat yourself and your helper close to the kitchen where it is convenient for you.
Most of all relax and enjoy the process!
Food Safety Pages:
Buffet and Party Safety - Also includes what to do if your guests have been
delayed at least an hour
Golden Rules of Food Safety
IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! If you have any question in your mind about the freshness or safety of eating a food product,
throw it out. It is better to be safe than sorry!
Internal Temperature Cooking Charts - meat, poultry, seafood, breads, baked goods, and casseroles.
Great cooks use a Cooking Thermometer as their guide - NOT A Clock.
Always follow internal cooking temperatures to be safe!
Picnic Safety Tips
There is nothing more American than the picnic. Picnics can take on many forms, such as the community picnic, friends and neighbors, tailgate parties, or
ball games. There is also one sure thing at every picnic-lots of good food.
The important point is to have safe and healthy food, not food that can cause food borne illness. Always prepare and store food properly.
Summer Safety Tips
Summer is the time for barbecues and picnics. The biggest party crasher at summer picnic and buffets is food borne bacteria. You can't see them
and you can't taste them, but you sure can feel them if illness occurs hours or days later.
Check out all of Linda's wonderful
Dinner Party Menus (includes recipes)
Appetizer Recipes (Hors d' oeuvres, Starters, Amuse-Bouche,& Snacks)
How many appetizers to make for your party?