Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Effortless Entertaining

Last night, I had the privilage to speak to the most wonderful group of people at the First United Methodist Church in Birmingham. The Merry Mates graciously invited me to give a presentation about cooking and entertaining, and to share a little bit of information about Mirepoix.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, with Hanukkah and Christmas hot on its heals. While for children, it seems like the holiday season drags on until the big celebration with family, friends, and gifts, adults often wonder where the time goes. With such hectic schedules, entertaining can sometimes be a chore, not a time for holiday cheer.

Don't stress over the idea of opening your home at the holidays. There are several things you can do to reduce the anxiety and effort. Here are some of the tips I shared with my friends at Merry Mates last night.

1.Only invite people you really like! What fun is a party when you don’t enjoy the company? Be honest with yourself, who do you really want to share your home with?

2. Set up a self-serve bar area. Make it serviceable and friendly.

3. To make things extra easy plan to make food that can be eaten at room temperature. If you want to serve hot food, invest in some attractive chaffing dishes. These can be purchased at places like Home Goods.

4. Use only dishes and flatware that can be put into the dishwasher! OR, use high-quality plastic ware. Beautiful plastic and paper goods are now readily available.

5. Hire a student to act as a bus-person. Students are always in need of extra money. Pay them a fair wage for what you are asking them to do. The little bit of money you will pay out will ensure that you really enjoy your evening during and after the event.

6. If you have access to good-quality food, made already in advance, BUY IT! You may spend a little extra for the convenience, but consider how much your time is worth. Master one or two dishes that will become your “signature” items.

7. Once you learn your signature recipes, remember that this is not the time to try something new. I've run 2 marathons and learned quickly that you don't run a marathon in new shoes! Go with what you know - this is not the time to be adventurous!

The holidays are busy for everyone, but particularly for those of us in the hospitality industry. I love to have family and friends in my home and use these tips regularly. Every once in a while, I overestimate how much time I have and underestimate how much time everything takes, and every time I do that, I remember why these tips are so important!

Even if you only incorporate a few of them into your holiday season this year, you're one step closer to having a happy and less stressful celebration.


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