Friday, September 16, 2011

Grown-up Party Tricks: Keeping the Food Warm and the Kitchen Clean

We love entertaining, but one of the biggest headaches about throwing a dinner party is serving the food on time and while it's still hot.  This is an especially big challenge for me, because the Emma Pillsbury in me likes my kitchen to be relatively neat and clean by the time guests arrive.  Recently, a friend asked me for some suggestions on how to make a dinner party work.  I told her that I'd share some of my tricks and ask you to share yours.

Before our guests arrive, I prep as much as possible and always load all of the pots and pans and assorted dirty dishes into the dishwasher so that I can run it during the party.  I also set up my mise en place and lay out the serving dishes.  (In the photo above, you can see that I have the plastic chopping board and all of the ingredients out for my miso-glazed brussel sprouts; the wood cutting board out for the roast chicken; and the salad bowl and tongs at the ready.)

For foods that need reheating or finishing in the oven or stovetop, I like to put a post-it with the oven temperature and heating time on the dish itself.  This way I can put away all the recipe books ahead of time and have all of the important details at the ready.

For occasions like Passover and Chinese New Year, when a meal is going to last a looooong time, we use this relatively inexpensive chafing dish to keep the food warm.

As you can see, I also try to do much of the set-up in advance, so that all I have to do the day of is finish making the food and placing it on the appropriate serving vessel.

I'm afraid that these are all the tips I know.  What are your favorite techniques for keeping everything organized and delicious for a dinner party? Please share!


Geek in Heels September 17, 2011 at 6:00 PM  

As someone who isn't much of a foodie (well, I love most food...does that count?) or a hostess, I don't have any classy tips. But in my experience, when in doubt, just bring out the booze! :-P

lavenderpug September 19, 2011 at 8:26 AM  

looks like you go all out with your dinner parties--lucky guests! i like the tip of the post-its and putting the books away.

charms September 19, 2011 at 10:01 AM  

I have never been able to do this well so don't have any tips. But I'll definitely be trying out some of yours :)

BigAppleNosh September 20, 2011 at 1:25 PM  

These are great tips - thank you for sharing!

Creature Gorgeous September 29, 2011 at 8:10 PM  

You are the hostess with the mostest!

Before we moved into our house (for which we got a "free" warming drawer with our ovens), I seriously contemplated getting an electric warming tray.

Have you seen this? One of our friends uses it at her parties, and it works very well! Bonus that you don't have to buy those bunson burner thingies for a chafing dish!

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