Saturday, April 7, 2007

Managing It

Kitchen management is probably the most difficult aspect of cooking and entertaining to get a handle on. I am a firm believer in reading a recipe and then re-reading it, and even reviewing it a third time before you ever start cooking. The more you know the recipe, and its path, the less chaotic the kitchen will be.

Organize the recipes in foods that can be done ahead and held one or two days – this usually will include any sauces, marinades, baked goods, salad elements (though I don’t advise dressing them as they will wilt) soups and stews. The day of should be dedicated to quick cooking items; roasts that tend to dry out and over-cooked if held or, anything that might need to be re-heated. As any who has spent time with me in kitchen will attest to that I am very strict about cleanliness. If you keep you work area free of clutter and garbage the task does not look as daunting. Attack a recipe at a time – mise en place (all thing in place) then start cooking. There is nothing worst then realizing you missed an element in the recipe, and then you are dancing as fast as you can to catch up.

Definitely design a menu that is a mix of hot and cold foods. There is no reason to unduly stress out and find you working like a line-cook. I always do at least a third of my recipes at room temperature to cold. Make your cocktail time easy on yourself – an array of cheeses (I like to do a firm such as Manchego, goat cheese and triple cream such as a St. Andre) with pita chips, olives and nuts to keep everyone nibbling. And of course, a drink that is poured from a martini shaker is automatically fun. Though also consider the fact that a bottle of wine will give you 4 to 6 servings and a bottle of champagne will go into 4 to 5 glasses.

Though the most important thing is that the host is having fun, and enjoying the idea of sharing their passion and home with family and friends.

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