Monday, September 27, 2010

Supper Club: Keep it Simple!

When we first started having Supper Club get-togethers, I was stressed out about my first hosting. See, I don't really cook. I've gotten better over the years as I've had more occassions and practice (Last year I served Easter dinner for 10, with a ham & lamb! Serious progress!), but having people over makes me feel like I need to prepare a Martha Stewart-worthy spread. Which of course would be amazing, but certainly has not always been within my reach.

Baked Ziti
Image via Real Simple, picture by Petrina Tinslay
The thing is, your friends are coming over to see you, not judge your cooking! They want to chat and share a meal (with my friends, and some wine!) and hang out. So my advice to you is not to stress out too much over the food... make an old standby that you know turns out well - nobody (except your significant other!) will know that its your 'go to' dish.

My favorite meal is this Baked Ziti recipe from Real Simple, though I normally make it without the meat (I'm veggie) and prefer to use a Campanelle pasta (the ruffled edge & loose spiral are great in a baked dish). I'm a huge baked pasta fan for dinner parties - you can make it ahead of time (and it often tastes better if you do!) and then it can be baking as your guests arrive, making sure that you can hang out and mingle instead of slaving over the stove.
On that note, I think that Real Simple has great, simple (pun intended) recipes for anyone just starting to cook. Plus the reviews and comments are invaluable when choosing something worthwhile to try.
We typically have the host family provide the main course, and then others help bring sides/ appetizers/ dessert/ wine... two of my favorite appetizers are an Herbed Ricotta spread (seriously so easy - literally just ricotta and herbs)- in the summer I have fresh herbs in the backyard, so its basically the simplest, cheapest - yet super yummy! - thing to make. The other favorite (which I've mentioned before) is a cheese fondue. Get some fruit, veggies, and bread for dipping, follow this easy recipe, and you're all set!

Fondue & Dippers

So while I dont think you need to stress out about what exactly you're serving, I do think you need to set a nice table like grownups. Use real dishes and silverware, cloth napkins, and put out some flowers. No matter what you're serving, those small steps will really help show your guests that you care about them and want them to have a memorable evening.


Maria said...

Hi Nicole
Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love all sorts of food and this dish looks divine :)

Jaclyn said...

such a great idea and I agree about not stressing - I might just have to get my girlfriends to plan something like this soon!

Lindsay @ hlsd said...

I love this! You made it seem so simple which is a BIG help for me :) I am loving the new series. Can't wait to see what comes next!

Nicole said...

Thanks so much for all the encouraging comments!