Perhaps what’s hardest about preparing for a dinner party is coming up with an idea of what to serve. When Dorothy and I are selecting dishes, we consult a menu we’ve compiled of our favorites. It’s in an actual menu format, and we keep it as an opening page in the front of our personal cooking notebook. We can scan the entries, and usually something will appeal to us.
We might even send a copy of our personal menu we have composed to our family or friends prior to their visit. They can peruse it and then make a request for their favorite dinner item.
The intent is, of course, to serve great food to our guests. Christopher Kimball, host of America’s Test Kitchen, once said the secret to becoming a great home cook was to simply master 25 great dinner recipes. This is not a lot of recipes; however, it can be a bit daunting. My advice is to start simply. Select a recipe, prepare it and then critique it. If it’s too salty or it could use more garlic, then change it. Go online and compare this with other recipes of the same dish. You may want to try different ingredients. In other words, keep trying to make it better, and before you know it you will have personalized it and made it your own. One down, 24 more to go.