We caught up with Tom Colicchio earlier this week at an Electrolux Party Ready event in support of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, to chat about entertaining tips. With two little munchkins at home under the age of two, he likes to keep things real simple. Here's his cheat sheet:
1. Jarred products are your friends. Keep olives, relishes, jams, tapenades, roasted peppers, honeyed figs, and other tasty things that come in jars in the cupboard. They're especially great for appetizer platters when people come over.
2. Mis en place is so important. It's something I do at my restaurant kitchens, and at home. Chop up onions, celery, carrots, and anything else you can prep ahead of time so that it's all ready to throw together once it's time to cook. You'll be so happy you did.
3. No leeks, no problem! If a recipe calls for leeks and you don't have any on hand, or the grocery store runs out, just sub in an onion. People can get so bent out of shape about what goes together. Don't be wedded to a recipe exactly. Being an impromptu cook requires a different mindset, and you have to be OK with substitutions. Go with the flow!
4. Pasta is a quick go-to dish, plus it feeds a bunch of mouths. Make sure to keep dry pasta in the cupboard for last-minute entertaining. Here's one easy dish I love to throw together. You'll just need pasta, garlic, broccoli rabe (that's the only fresh ingredient), some olives, and anchovies. Toss the pasta in boiling water and cook for about four minutes, then turn it down and add the broccoli rabe, and let it cook for eight more minutes. Strain out the water and add chopped olives, some anchovies, and finish it off with salt and pepper.
5. Keep it simple, and don't ignore your guests. You don't have to cook everything. There's nothing wrong with picking up some fine cured meats or parmesan to shave on a plate. People love that stuff, plus it gives you more time to actually talk with your guests, instead of running around the kitchen.