Looking for a fun and unique spin on the usual game night at your house? Try a cook-off with your friends and family. A cook-off will ignite the same friendly competition as playing Monopoly all evening, but it’s also going to provide the dinner. Is there any better situation than that?
Pick a Theme
I especially enjoy a tapas, or small bites party. Because everyone will be making and bringing small portions, it enables everyone to enjoy a taste of all the delicious nibbles. No one will go home feeling regret at being too full.
To keep the event interesting, though, build the tapas around a single ingredient or style, perhaps. For example, challenge all attendees to bring only Spanish-flavored tapas. Even better, incite them to creativity by requiring that all appetizers include one special ingredient such as bacon. Although it would seem to limit choices, bacon can be used in cold or hot, savory or sweet, bites. You will be amazed at the imaginative ways your guests will use the special ingredient.
Plan Your Additions
As host, even though all of your guests will be bringing a delicious treat to the event, you’ll need to do your part. A great way for you to contribute is to provide a variety of drinks that should suit the small bites. So, if you’ve chosen a Spanish theme, offer a sampling of Spanish wines and beers. Or learn a fun new cocktail such as this recipe for Rebujitos from Best Spanish Recipes.com. Of course, you can also try your hand at making Sangria.
Don’t forget to also craft your own tapas for the party. You will be amazed at how much fun you can have by challenging your culinary skills to new inventions or variations of old favorites.
Decorate the Location
For a great appetizer party, keep your decorations simple. The dishes will all be made of small bites, so you don’t want to overwhelm the star attractions. Perhaps stick to plain white linens and white plates. This will ensure that your serving ware will match and not distract from the tapas. Have a generous amount of plates, forks, and glasses on hand. Set up small displays of unscented candles around the eating area for a cozy atmosphere.
Choose a mellow music mix for the background. Depending on your tastes, stick to some soft jazz or R&B. Or choose tunes that fit with the theme, such as light Spanish dance music. Don’t turn the stereo up too loud; instead, leave the music as a deep background to the food.
One of the best reasons to host a cook-off party is to avoid much of the stress that comes from insisting on every detail being perfect. The menu is off your hands, so you don’t need to worry about timing each dish of an elaborate meal. Instead, you can focus on creating a relaxed vibe for what amounts to a fun evening of discovery. Everyone gets to learn about each other’s creativity as well as some new recipes and cultures.