5 Great Holiday Hosting Tips I Learned This Year
I'm ready to party, thanks to Food Network Kitchen.
In this series, we're showing off some of the coolest recipes, tips and tricks we've learned from chefs in the all-new Food Network Kitchen app.
The holidays can be fantastic and whimsical and delicious, but they can also be unnecessarily stressful, especially when you are hosting. That’s where Food Network Kitchen has been a huge lifesaver for me. It’s not just learning the recipes — although those are pretty great, too — it’s all of the great tips I’ve learned along the way. As they host their live and on-demand classes, Molly Yeh (pictured), Ina Garten, Rachael Ray and the other other chefs all throw out a few gems that can really make a difference in making a dish, and many of the tips can be applied in general as you cook and entertain. Here are five invaluable tips Food Network Kitchen's chefs have taught me to make my next gathering a success.
Make an Entire Course You Don’t Have to Cook
I always love putting out a cheese plate at a party. They are super fun and easy to make, yet they’re a huge hit with guests, and fun to change depending on the seasons and setting. What I didn’t think about until Ina Garten said it in her Ultimate Cheese Platter course, is that you can think of it as an entire course (and not just in addition to a bunch of other stuff).
“It’s an entire course that people love that you don’t have to cook,” she says. “Everyone helps themselves and it’s fun.”
Layer Your Salad So Everyone Gets the Good Stuff
It’s always nice to serve some greens at a sit-down dinner party and I loved Nancy Silverton’s tip in her Raw Kale Salad class. Her trick can apply to any salad —it’s all in the way she assembles the salad in the bowl. She layers it to evenly disperse the goodies, so in this case she makes sure each layer has anchovies, pine nuts and ricotta salata. “Layering the salad makes sure all the ingredients are well dispersed, so everyone gets all the goodies,” she says. Genius! Nobody wants a salad where all of the good stuff falls to the bottom. I’ll be using this for any large-format salad I make from now on.
A Roast Chicken Is Both Easy and Impressive
A roast chicken is always an impressive dish to pull out — and it can double as a centerpiece! It used to be intimidating, that is, until Rachael Ray adapted the most-simple technique from her friend, renowned chef Jacques Pepin for Classic Roasted Chicken. His method simply brines the chicken with salt and pepper and then cooks 20 minutes on each side of the chicken and then squeezes over a caramelized lemon. It doesn’t pull in a ton of fussy steps like other roast chicken recipes. She makes a great Sicilian lemon sauce on the side. Voila! The perfect dinner to serve along with a salad and a big hunk of bread.
Making Cocktails Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
Cocktails have always intimidated me but after watching a few of Julie Reiner’s cocktail videos, I am confident they aren’t as hard as I’d thought. Her Strawberry French 75 Punch is a great large-format cocktail that would be perfect for a New Year’s Eve fete. It’s something easy enough to prepare a few minutes ahead of time and can serve as a signature cocktail. Guests will be impressed, and I won’t have to shake cocktails all night long.
Snack Mix is the Perfect Take-Home Gift
Molly Yeh put together a delicious and easy Gingerbread Snack Mix with tahini, gingerbread spice, chocolate, powdered sugar and fun mix-ins like candy coated chocolates, gingersnap cookies and lots of sprinkles. Simply pouring it in a glass jar with a holiday tag on it turned it into the perfect low-stress party favor. This is something you can make in advance, too, so it doesn’t have to be added to your growing day-of prep list.