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Menu Planning 101, Part 3

I've planned a lot of menus in my day and get tons of emails from readers and friends asking me to help them plan a menu for a specific occasion. I can throw a menu together in no time flat, and so can you if you take a look at my helpful tips and pointers. All week I am giving you a few more pieces to the puzzle. I see an empty dinner plate as an artist would look at a blank canvas. It's important to think of every aspect of the dishes from the texture, color, and aroma to the techniques of cooking that you use and the variety of ingredients. For today's menu planning tips,

  • Use ingredients that are in season. A rich meaty casserole in the heat of summer, or a spring vegetable consommé in the dead of winter will not impress your guests!
  • Use ingredients that are local. In last week's Time magazine, the cover story was about how eating locally could be better than eating organic.
  • Try to use fresh, natural produce wherever possible. You just can't compare the flavor of a freshly roasted free-range chicken with that of a frozen or pre-packed bird off the supermarket shelf.
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