When Sous Chefs Crash Christmas
Tired of the same holiday party themes? If you are like me, you’ve done them all: the crazy Christmas sweater party; the winter white party (lots of cauliflower and mashed potatoes). Of course, there was the "everyone brings an ornament" for the tree party, and the ever-popular pirates Christmas party. (There was actually a scuffle during that one!) I have also themed my holiday parties around the Deep South, a cookie exchange, alfresco in December theme (that one was pretty chilly) and even a football tailgating Christmas! I was beginning to think I ran out of fresh ideas… until….. I came up with this one: The Interactive Holiday Party!
The new, hip trend in entertaining is to incorporate interactivity with your party theme. Ideas like painting parties, and guests getting involved with the more exciting aspects of hosting. Interactive food is a natural. Food stations evolve. The idea is to strike a balance between fussing over your guests, and letting them have fun cooking during the party. It’s kind of a new riff on the old-fashioned pot luck supper. Instead of your guests bringing a dish that they prepare at home, they come to YOU first, and help prepare your menu. An interactive pot luck supper invites your guests to double as "sous chefs", which in French basically translates to the kitchen's second in command.
Pulling this party off so everyone has a blast is all a matter of setting up the cooking stations in advance; the more organized the host, the more fun your guests have cooking up the meal. Here’s how you do it.
You, the hostess with the mostess, choose the menu.
Then you set up stations for each dish that includes all ingredients, cooking tools and serveware. Set up your dining table and invite your guests to have a seat. Take a couple friends at a time and start cooking. After each dish is prepared, return to the table, and savor the food together as a group. Then continue with more friends to create the next dish. Small plates are best for this idea, as the FUN and tasting go on…and on…and ON! Spread out the stations, so you don’t find yourself cleaning up one station to make room for another. If you have a small kitchen, you don’t have to do everything on your stovetop. Make use of plug-ins like slow cookers, panini makers, electric skillets, etc.
Le menu for your first Interactive Pot Luck
Get started using the following menu as a guideline for creating your interactive pot luck supper. I’m including the recipe for Grilled Guac. The others (and so many more) are available in my iBook Sunday Best Dishes. Did you know you can download the book onto your iPhone? It is available through iTunes. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Download it today, and start your holiday cooking off right!
Small Plate 1 - Grilled Guac
Pre-Set: Cut up your vegetables, so they are prepared for either your outdoor grill or your indoor grill pan. Ask your guests to grill the veggies until just done. Cool a bit and then add everything to the serving bowl. Cool a bit and then add everything to the serving bowl. Take turns mashing and tasting. Have the basket of chips ready for scooping when you bring everything to the table.
Small Plate 2 - Warm Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Pre-Set: Buy pre-shaved Brussels sprouts in the bag and microwave to steam them until they are very soft. Cool to room temperature. Prepare a station with toasted bread crumbs (for the croutons), grated Parmesan cheese and Caesar salad dressing. Ask your guests to warm the sprouts in a sauté pan, and toss in the remaining salad ingredients. Serve on small plates with a garnish of cracked black pepper and a sliver of anchovy.
Small Plate 3 - Short Rib Panini Sandwiches
Pre-Set: Cook boneless short ribs in your slow cooker. Create a station with all the elements needed for super sandwiches: artisanal breads and cheeses and roasted tomatoes, flavored mustards and mayos, and crisp veggies like lettuce and cucumbers. Now ask your guests to assemble panini sandwiches "to order", using a panini maker or good old fashioned waffle maker.
Small Plate 4 - Ice Cream Sundaes with Pizzelle Bowls
Pre-Set: Premix pizzelle batter. Create a station with all of the items needed for sugary ice cream sundaes: chopped candy and nuts, chocolate and caramel sauces, sprinkles, fruit and cookie crumbles. Invite guests to make the ice cream bowls by inverting warm pizzelle cookies over small cups or bowls, and then cooling to room temperature. Your pizzelle maker will be perfect for this. Spruce up the theme by topping with red and green sprinkles.
……. And to all a Good Party Night!!!!