entertaining with style- making it work for you

Categories: Appetizers, Cocktail Party, Fête Fact, Posted on May 23, 2019 by Sandy Bergsten

In my last post I mentioned how important it is to have a handful of go-to recipes that always work for you. With those up your sleeve you will never shy away from having people over. So many times people think they need to cook up something new or extravagant when they entertain. The truth is when you have a party it’s the guest list that most often changes so your menu, table setting, and playlist rarely needs to. Take a moment to figure out what works best for you. Successful entertainers always put themselves in the equation. For they know, if they are having a great time, so will their guests.

It’s equally important to note that what might be in my wheelhouse might not be in yours. You should do what you do best, and whatever gives you the most pleasure. Personally, I’m a horrible baker so I never feature desserts, often when a guest asks if they can bring something, I jump on it and say, “how about dessert”. You always want to maximize your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.

I love making appetizers. Greeting guests with a marvelous little bite for me is the perfect start to any night. Friends give me a hard time because every evening I set out a pretty little dish of sugar snap peas and radishes for my husband (and Norwich) to nibble on. Sometimes I add on a little something extra which (with such little effort) yields a tremendous amount of appreciation. And as we all know a little appreciation goes a long way.

So, the question is how can you get the biggest bang for your effort buck? The key to wheelhouse recipes is that they should utilize either what you have on hand or can be easily obtained and can be created in a really short period of time. That way you will do them over and over again, hence they are in your wheelhouse.

A vegetable platter is a pain in the butt. No one appreciates it and it takes a ton of prep work. Now a charcuterie board looks hip and impressive and takes a fraction of the time. Pick up a great little salami, some Castelvetrano olives from grocery’s olive bar, a packet of Marcona almonds (Trader Joes has great ones pre-packaged), and a little wedge of Manchego cheese. Simply slice and place. Best part- all of these have a great shelf life so they rest in the ready in your frig and pantry for whenever the need might arise.

Another super easy go-to that makes a splash is smoked salmon on croutes

A croute is simply a toasted slice of baguette. I make them ahead of time and stow them in my freezer. Then they are as easy to pull out as a cracker but with a lot more flare. Start by thinly slicing a fresh baguette. 

Brush with melted butter.

Toast in a preheated 350-degree oven for 5-8 minutes until just golden. 

Cool completely. And place in a Ziploc bag and freeze until needed.

Then when you want to impress buy some thinly sliced high quality smoked salmon, a tub of whipped cream cheese, a few scallions, and a package of fresh dill. Pull out your frozen croutes.

Spread a light shmear of whipped cream cheese.

Sprinkle with a little chopped scallion.

Top with a slice of smoked salmon.

Then a sprig of fresh dill.

If this doesn’t say “let the party begin” then I don’t know what will. Best part it takes mere minutes to create. Wheelhouse!

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