This week I'm all about planning the perfect menu. Surprisingly it's not hard to do if you keep in mind a few helpful tips. Presentation is essential; as we eat with our eyes first, so pay attention to the color of the ingredients in your dishes. Don't over use an ingredient or stick to one cooking technique; variety of tastes and textures will only enhance the taste experience. If you are interested in learning more valuable pointers,

  • Where a recipe calls for a specialty gourmet food ingredient, which isn't available in your area, try shopping online. There are many excellent online gourmet food stores who will deliver right to your door. For the very best, try Dean & Deluca in New York, or Fortnum & Mason in London. Buying just one or two small luxury items from stores like this will add a real touch of elegance to your dinner party menu. If you cannot locate a specific ingredient, make a different dish.
  • Stay away from main course recipes that call for last minute complex, or time consuming preparations (example: risotto). The trick is to have as much of the menu prepared as possible, with only the finishing to do at the last minute. This puts less pressure on your time when you want to be with your guests. Wash, peel and chop up ingredients ahead of time; if the sauce allows, prepare it in advance. Blanche slower-cooking veggies such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, etc. – you’ll just need to sauté them for a minute or two in the final sauce to reheat.
  • Always check with your guests before the party to find out if any of them have specific dietary requirements that must be included in the dinner party menu. For example, Finding out that someone is vegetarian, is not allowed to eat pork, or can't abide fish on the night of your dinner will only cause you unnecessary stress!