Are you having lots of company over the holidays but don’t want to have to spend all your time in the kitchen away from the fun? Then make the cooking be the fun and bring your guests into the kitchen with you. Here’s a recent tradition I have started with my adult children when they are visiting over the holidays.
Prior to their visit, we each pick out two to three appetizers, tapas or small plate recipes that we want to make. The only rule is that we can’t have made it before. They send me their recipes as well as a complete grocery list for their items. I go grocery shopping the day before their arrival, and ensure that I have the appropriate cooking and serving dishes on hand.
All three of us – plus my son-in-law, who’s a great cook – divide up kitchen work space and cooking surfaces/ovens. Then we open up a bottle of nice wine, turn the music up loud, and get busy. My husband – who’s not a cook – usually comes in about every 20 minutes (against his will) to do the dishes and grab items for us from the pantry or fridge. We talk, we laugh, we sing, we gossip, and in general have a fabulous time while preparing a wonderful tapas meal.
Because the end result is a dozen or more tastes that none of us has had before, the meal becomes an adventure in which we each contributed a part. Through dinner we play the role of experienced foodies as we compliment and critique, and expand on how we would alter the recipe if we were to make it again. And indeed we have. One of my favorite go-to party dishes – shrimp ceviche – was actually born of one of our famous tapas gatherings, and each time I serve it, my guests can’t seem to get enough. Other delightful delicacies have included such items as lobster bisque with pea pod garnish, creamy mushroom wonton cups, sautéed figs with mascarpone crème and hot capicola and goat cheese stuffed mushroom caps.
This is a creative way to ensure you get to enjoy your guests, while preparing a meal that everyone will love. Bon appétit!