+ If you can’t serve a good champagne, serve Prosecco.
+ Swizzle sticks or straws can add pop to a themed party.
+ A guest who is “over served” is not only a social liability; he can be a legal one, too.
+ Tell your bartender to open bottles only as they are needed. A liquor store will take back white wine only if it has not been opened, chilled and still has a perfect label. They’ll usually take back unopened liquor, as well. Check ahead.
+ For a fancy iced cappuccino, make ice cubes out of coffee or cappuccino.
+ A liter of liquor makes about 22 mixed drinks.
+ There are about 5 wine servings to a 750 ml bottle. For a 2 hour cocktail party, if you are not serving anything else, apart from mineral water and soft drinks, allow 1 bottle for 2 people. At cocktail parties, white wine is generally more popular than red, so have two-thirds white to one-third red.
+ The usual range of spirits is vodka, scotch whiskey, gin, bourbon, rum, vermouth, domestic and imported beers, and wine. The obligatory mixers are orange juice, cranberry juice, tomato juice, soda, tonic, sparkling mineral water, Diet Coke and regular Coke and 7-Up. Garnishes should include lemons, limes, olives, onions and cherries.
+ Pass a unique drink upon the guests arrival it’s fun!
Italian gin greyhoud
YIELDS – 1 SERVING
1.5 ounces gin (may be substituted with vodka)
.5 ounces campari
4 ounces grapefruit juice
1 ounce grapefruit flavored soda
rosemary sprig for garnish
Mix 2 ounces of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped rosemary
Make rosemary sugar.
Mix gin and grapefruit juice.
Rub edge of a rocks glass with a lime wedge or grapefruit wedge and rim the glass with rosemary sugar.
Fill glass with ice and add grapefruit flavored soda.
+ Do check an etiquette book to make sure the table is set correctly.
+ Do throw away crudely mended cup handles and chipped plates; instead mix patterns of china, stemware and flatware for each person. Focus not just on the individuality of each place setting, but also on the harmony of the elements. Not only will the table look fabulous, but every item becomes a conversation piece!
+ Use fragrant flowers or spice up bland bouquets.
+ When serving an Asian meal, give your guests the choice of silverware or chopsticks (with chopstick rests).
+ If you do not wish to place salt and pepper on the table, plan to have it nearby in case of request.
+ Consider using one set salt and peppers per person.
+ Before placing glasses on a table or bar, do wipe each glass with a lint-free cotton or linen cloth to remove spots.
+ Before dessert is served, the table should be cleared completely of dishes used for previous courses; this includes salt and pepper mills, wine glasses, and condiment dishes.
YIELDS – 6 SERVINGS
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
? pound potatoes, chopped
3 cups homemade chicken stock
? cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, chives, or grated sharp cheddar cheese
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan and add the onion, leeks, celery and garlic. Cover the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Allow to cool a little before pureeing in a blender or food processor. Return to the clean saucepan.
Bring the soup gently back to a boil and stir in the cream. Season with salt and white pepper and reheat without boiling. Serve hot or well chilled, garnished with chives.
+ Have ENOUGH–Make sure they’re familiar with your household routines so they can be silent and swift. You want to avoid making your guests nervous.
+ Communicate to the wait staff where to park, where to dress, which bathroom you prefer them to use, etc.
+ Friendly, but unobtrusive service make people feel cared for and pampered.
+ Give staff plenty of time to mentally prepare for your event. Make sure the staff knows the logistics of the event, timetable, menu, and location of bars, buffets and powder rooms.
+ Do tell the staff whether or not to answer the telephone during an event.
+ Do inform the kitchen staff of the location of the electrical breaker box for the house. Coffee makers, portable convection ovens and heat lamps draw a lot of electricity.
+ Splurge for a doorman–it will let you enjoy your guests and not work so hard.
Crying tiger thai style grilled steak
YIELDS – 5 SERVINGS
4 rib eye steaks, about 1 – inches thick (12 ounces each)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon plain vegetable oil
2 plum tomatoes
Thai Dried Chili Dipping Sauce
Mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and vegetable oil in a medium mixing bowl. Coat the steaks with the soy sauce mixture and let them marinate while you work on the dipping sauce, recipe below.
Peel and deseed the tomatoes. Chop the pulp finely, and add it to prepared dried chili dipping sauce. Set aside.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set all the burners on a gas grill to high heat. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Grill the steaks, turning frequently, until desired doneness is reached (medium-rare is recommended- steaks should register 125 degrees on an instant read thermometer when removed from grill). Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the steaks into 1-2 inch slices and serve with dipping sauce.
Candles + Lighting
+ For evening entertaining, you can never have enough candles–votives or hurricanes.
+ If possible, have dimmers on all interior lights and use them.
+ Scented candles are best for the powder rooms, but stick with one fragrance.
+ Rehearse the night before; darken the room, add the candles you need–add extra light if necessary.
+ Never leave candles unattended; check that all candles are extinguished before retiring to bed.
Kale + Brussels Sprouts Salad
YIELDS – 8 SERVINGS
3 cups Brussels sprouts
1 large bunch kale, center stems discarded
1 small clove garlic
1 small shallot
1 cup finely grated pecorino cheese
? cup extra-virgin olive oil
? cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 lemons, zested + juiced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor fitted with a slicing blade, shred the Brussels sprouts. Next, shred the kale. Add the garlic and shallot and shred. (Alternatively, shred and mince the vegetables by hand with a knife). Set aside.
+ Get flowers several days before event and let them open to the height of their maturity. Amaryllis need 4 days to open prior to the event; lilies need 4 to 5 days if they are in bud form. So, depending on the flowers purchased, a 1 to 5 day maturity time is recommended.
+ Abundance of one thing is opulent and stylish–that’s true for roses, gardenias, or silver bowls filled with pomegranates, apples, or persimmons.
+ Use fragrant flowers or spice up bland bouquets.
+ For evening events, remember that flowers selected in daylight can look entirely different at night. White and bright flowers are recommended for night time events.
+ Floral centerpieces should not obstruct the view across the table. Table arrangements should either be above head level, or low (12 max) to allow people to see over them.
+ At cocktail parties, smaller flower arrangements are lost in the crowd. Go for large scale impact on the hall table or dining room sideboard.
+ When designing centerpieces for a large event, two to four different flower designs on a sea of tables is interesting.
+ When designing an event in your home, using your personal silver, crystal or porcelain vessels lends a warm and original flair to the decor.
+ If re-using seasonal decorations, plan early for installation, and do not hesitate to add a new element each year
+ Serve three cheeses; a triple créme, a blue and a goat cheese. All can be served with crusty bread or crackers.
+ Cheese should always be served at room temperature.
+ For a elegant display, serve a single fruit with the selection of cheese, such as figs, pears, strawberries, dates, or even kiwi.
+ Additional condiments for cheeses include marcona almonds, membrillo (quince paste), salamis, olives, cornichons, honey and honeycomb, fruit preserves, and chocolate.
+ Presentation is as important as the food itself.
+ Appropriate, large, unique, and attractive serving dishes, distinctly garnished with fresh herbs and filled with plenty of food, make a buffet inviting.
+ Do use large trays and bowls when serving a crowd. Small serving dishes only makes the staff work harder than necessary and can cause the buffet lines to slow down.