Not everyone is born to be a gourmet chef. Trust me-I know this from personal experience. Making a delectable five-course meal for guests just isn’t a skill I ever acquired. Still, like any good hostess, I want my dinner guests to feel special, especially during the holiday season.
Fortunately, there are several ways for anyone-even those of us who don’t read cookbooks-to create a memorable meal. Even better-you don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen or spend all day pretending you are.
Embellish, Embellish, Embellish…It’s tempting to want to create your entire menu from scratch-soup, bread, main course, etc. But timing every dish is nearly impossible unless you’re an accomplished cook. I usually end up serving something cold that should be hot, or waiting on a side dish that just isn’t ready yet.
Instead, focus most of your time and effort on one or two dishes-perhaps the main dish. Then, round out your menu with simple to make recipes or even store bought appetizers and desserts. The key here is to utilize the “wow” factor by embellishing ordinary dishes to make them memorable and unique.
First, think fresh. Whenever possible, add fresh fruits, vegetables or herbs to store bought appetizers and desserts, and even to more basic recipes. Remember to garnish the plate and not just the food on it. Dress up a serving platter with herbs and parsley, whole or chopped. When serving dessert, drizzle individual plates with berry or chocolate sauce, or sprinkled cocoa before placing your dessert on the dish. Fresh whipped cream takes only minutes to make and is an unexpected and welcome garnish on many desserts.
Another idea for instant elegance: use edible flowers to beautify a simple salad or dessert and create a topic of conversation. Your guests will notice and appreciate the unexpected touches.
Create an Atmosphere: Remember that a great dining experience isn’t only about the food- it’s about an entire experience you create for your guests. Many of us can’t make every dish a gourmet masterpiece, but we can create a beautiful tablescape. Start with a centerpiece that incorporates seasonal or decorative elements that you love and reflect just the feeling you’re going for. Many times I start with fresh flowers of one variety, cut to just above the top of the vase, simple, easy and elegant. Next, add candles- a sure way to create an enviable ambiance. Tall candles feel more formal, votives and tea lights scattered about lend a more casual feeling. Never use scented candles while dining. Check out books and magazines for great ideas to personalize into your own.
Be creative and experiment! Don’t hesitate to mix your fine china with your everyday dishes for a unique and memorable setting. Use what you have…you may be surprised with the stunning combinations you create.
Finally, think about ways to indulge all the senses. Select soft background music that suits the occasion. Use textural table covers, cloth napkins and whimsical napkin rings.
By adding your own unique touch to these easy and elegant tips you will create a holiday dining experience that will leave your guests wanting more!
Are you looking for Easy Elegance? Want to add a touch of romance to your holidays? For many more inspirational tips and ideas for adding elegance and romance to your holidays, check out Kathleen’s Easy Elegance For the Holidays and Last Minute Holiday Survival Kit.