Hosts With the Most
The holidays are over, and many lovely young women are sporting a brand-new engagement or wedding ring. It’s only natural that they’ll want to celebrate by throwing a party with their new fiancés.
Whether it’s an engagement party or a Super Bowl bash, couples have to learn how to meld their styles together and get along in the kitchen.
“It’s tempting to hold a big party with 40 of your closest friends and try five new recipes,” says Brooke Parkhurst, co-author of “Just Married and Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating and Entertaining Together” (Scribner, 2011). “A grand production [can be really hard]. Have it manageable, smaller, with tried and true recipes.”
Parkhurst, along with her husband, chef James Briscione, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, wrote their book to help new couples feel at home cooking together. “You have to eat, and you might as well make it a pleasurable experience,” Parkhurst says.
“It’s easier and quicker with two sets of hands doing the work,” adds Briscione, noting that cooking together ensures it won’t be a difficult or tedious task for one person, especially when cooking for friends or entertaining.
When planning your first party together, Briscione says that it’s important to be organized and have a good plan. “Be honest with yourself and what you can pull off,” he says.
“Start more basic. You don’t have to do Chateaubriand to start,” says Parkhurst.
Adds Briscione: “Be patient. Cooking shows make everything look easy. It’s not that hard, but it does take time [to perfect]. Be prepared to learn from your mistakes. It’ll get better every time.”
Want to celebrate your engagement? Try a cocktail party. “Do a house cocktail instead of serving wine throughout,” says Parkhurst, who suggests creating a fun, personalized champagne cocktail and snacks. Want to throw a party for the big game? Parkhurst suggests a low-key Super Bowl party with chili and bleu cheese salad. Sophisticated dips can also make your party stand out.
For couples with a little more experience in the kitchen, Briscione suggests playing on the theme of relationships with his and hers duos of items, like beef tenderloin with braised short ribs. “It’s a fun play on a theme and relationships,” says Briscione.
Once the theme is set, plan the menu. Briscione recommends pulling out your pots, pans and platters and labeling which ones you’ll need for each dish. Also make sure you have the ingredients for each recipe. “You’ll see what you need, where to edit…what you need to pull it off and be realistic,” says Briscione.
If you’re planning for eight to 10 people, start preparing two to three days ahead of time, fitting in shopping and preparations where you can. For example, with a six hors d’oeuvres cocktail party, you can make two to three dishes the day before, and the others the day of. If you’re serving hot dishes, prepare them ahead of time so that they’re ready to go into the oven. “The more organization you have, the more fun you’ll have the day of,” says Parkhurst.
[image credit: Colleen Duffley]