When creating a beautiful dinner-party and really wowing your guests, nothing impresses quite like presenting your guests with a table filled with homemade goodies. As a hostess, this is one of the hardest and most stressful parts of the evening and can very well take your evening from self-proclaimed Shindig Diva to pure kitchen Scullery Maid! Here are my top 3 tips on creating that homemade feel without ruining your new snazzy manicure!
Tip number 1:
This is my number one go-to tip: a tasty homemade pesto makes any dish look like a Julia Child-esque effort! The best part about it? Pesto can be made with a variety of ingredients, from the typical Italian pesto of pine nuts, basil and parmesan to pistachios, mint and gruyere. It's one of the tastiest and most flexible additions! Check out our great recipe on pistachio pesto from our Fall gourmet photo-shoot!
2 garlic cloves
1/2cup shelled pistachios
2cups loosely packed basil
1tablespoon lemon juice
1/3cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Place garlic in food processor; pulse until chopped. Add pistachios, basil, lemon juice and salt; pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add olive oil gradually through food chute and process until well combined. Add cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times.
- Serve over pasta, bread or roasted potatoes like these from Food.com
Tip number 2:
Balsamic reduction is the equivalent of the classic Chanel red-lipstick in your cooking arsenal. This little beauty is perfect for just about everything, from fresh summer strawberries, to dressing up vanilla bean ice-cream; it's a tasty, sweet-tart gourmet secret weapon. See the great recipe below that we found to create your own balsamic reduction at home.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 (16 ounce) package fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Stir balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool.
- Arrange alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese decoratively on a serving platter. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, spread fresh basil leaves over the salad, and drizzle with olive oil and the balsamic reduction.
p.s our favourite serving suggestion? This delicious Caprese Salad by PopSugar
Tip number 3:
Being Southern and living in Canada for the last 6 years has taught me many things: 1. Rubber boots cannot be substituted for snow-boots (can you say frost-bite? Yikes!) 2. Maple syrup is not the same as Aunt Jemima (sacrilege, I know!) and 3. Where are the dang Cheese Straws Ya'll!? These are a staple at every Southern Soiree and I think after you make these you'll think they make the perfect home-made touch too, Eh?
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry (preferably Pepperidge Farm), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it's 10 by 12 inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of the parmesan, 1/2 cup of the gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and some pepper. With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don't overbake or the cheese will burn. Cool and serve at room temperature.
Let the puff pastry thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
That concludes my top 3 easy tips for making your dinner party homemade but here are a few others that are great lifesavers too!
- Make a homemade sangria if you can't take the time to cook up goodies; it's quick, inexpensive and it's booze... you can't go wrong.
- Use mini-quiche pie shells and fill them with interesting ingredients from your pantry to really wow your guests.
- Buy artisanal cheeses and make a large spread with little pots of compote to create a stunning display.
Here at Autumn Wood Stylist HQ we're currently sipping a Mint Hot Chocolate and loading up our Pinterest boards with fresh new inspiration! Follow us Here: https://www.pinterest.com/autumnwoodevent/