Caitlin O’Malley is the goop’s food director. It gives us recipes, takeaway recommendations and tips on anything unrelated to food. He makes us laugh every day. She is wise, as you can see for yourself in the sixth episode
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Dear Caitlin, now that I am fully vaccinated, I look forward to hosting dinner this summer. But honestly, I may not be able to throw it all out as before – my social resilience is not what it was before last year. Do you have any tips on how to make it easy and light without missing the fun? “Julie.”
Dear Julie, I’m here with you! After organizing my first post-vax event (an outdoor birthday lunch for four), I was surprised. I forgot how much fun work can be. I’ve always gravitated to an unhappy, casual atmosphere when hosting – which makes it easier for your guests and does less work for you – and I think that strategy can serve us well as we enter the world of gatherings and dinners. Here are some ideas that might help.
STREAMLINED SERVICE SET
The Falcon enamel baking set is really great for baking – it is safe for the oven, stove top, and even the freezer. But what I call a baking set underestimates my favorite use of this five-piece set, which serves as dishes for outdoor entertainment. This timeless look of enamel has a cool camping atmosphere. And the pans are both firm and light, so no one will have to be too precious when they add peas. The enamel coating could crumble a little over time, but the pans will still be safe to use, and these flaws will give them some character and a sense of living. I use them to go straight from the oven to the table, like chicken, lasagna or roasted vegetables. Or I use them as a serving for cold salads or even for small parties, such as sauces and pickles – the variety of sizes in this set makes it especially useful. And yes, this goes well for pastries as well. Shoemakers, pies, cookies, cakes – all can be cooked and served in enameled dishes.
LOW INFLUENCE LOW LIFT MENU
No one wants to be confused with too many dishes at once while you are the hosts. Prepare for success by combining homemade, upgraded and non-cooking or store-bought products. If your menu is Mediterranean, for example, focus on an excellent main course like a kofta, falafel or shawarma, and perhaps a simple side like grilled vegetables or salad. Good olives and flatbread can be bought at the store and do not require cooking, and sauces like hummus and tzatziki can be made ahead of time or, again, bought at the store.
THINK DIY BAR
The DIY bar is great fun for guests, especially if you make sure you have all the equipment at your disposal. Fortunately, all of this can be done ahead of time and eventually frees you from the need to drink all night. Set the table with an assortment of liqueurs, mixers, bitters, tonics, seltzers, ice, a few beers and a few different bottles of wine. Set up the mixing station with a shaker; small dishes stuffed with olives, cocktail onions and cherries; and a bowl of citrus, along with a slicing knife and cutting board. Fresh herbs like mint and basil are also nice additions to the mix. A few more thoughtful additions: Throw out a cocktail book or write a few cocktail recipes for inspiration. Reusable toothpicks and straws will also come in handy. Oh, and don’t forget the little lemon peel waste bin.