Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.
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I HEARTILY BELIEVE THAT ADVICE FROM THE LATE GREAT CHEF. Using easy do's and don'ts below, you can create a simple, delicious meal and a warm gathering for your guests. Do pick simple recipes that use a few great ingredients. When I entertain, I start with the best ingredients. Take the time to buy fresh products that taste amazing on their own. That's just as important as how you cook it. I'm always looking for ways to save time when I am entertaining a large group. Investing in a few quality ingredients will simplify your preparation and make each dish extra special. Good ingredients mean the freshest produce and meat that you can buy or prepared foods like bread, pickles and cheese from a source that you trust and only using ingredients you recognize. Don't overcomplicate your menu. Focus on one delicious dish for each course. Spend your time making each course impactful. Don't worry about not having enough variety. Look at your menu and create a balanced meal across the courses (see the sample menu with this story). Also, you don't have to make everything. If you don't like making appetizers, buy one. For example, pair your favorite cheeses with fresh fruit. Pick up par-baked bread from the freezer section of your grocery store (my favorite is made by La Brea Bakery, and I pick it up at Harris Teeter), bake right before your guests arrive and welcome them with warm, fragrant bread (yum!). Serve with local pickles or an artisanal jam that your cheese guy recommends (I love the organic Adriatic fig spread at Whole Foods) and you have a great first course and conversation starter. Do take time to prepare before your guests arrive. Test the recipes on your menu beforehand. Make what you know tastes delicious. This is not the time to experiment. Also, make as much as you can before the guests arrive. Pick dishes that you know will taste better made in advance. For example, braised dishes are perfect for winter entertaining. They are simple to prepare and well suited for produce that is seasonal in winter (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and winter squashes like butternut, acorn and pumpkin). You can prepare the dish the day before and warm it up during your party in time for the main course. Put together a plan with a timeline (see next page) so that you can easily serve your guests without missing a beat at your party. Essential to that is gathering all your ingredients and preparing them before you start cooking. As my chefs at culinary school used to say to me, "mise en place" (French culinary phrase for "everything in its place") is the key to success. Simple & Delish Delight Guests this Winter with Good, Fresh Food By Liz Ren "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients." — Julia Child Mulling a Menu? If you're looking for a menu for a fresh, flavorful meal, here is a sample from Liz Ren. All of the recipes are at www.ballantynemagazine.com. Grilled Romaine with Lemon Parmesan Dressing Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Zucchini Noodles Toasted Quinoa Prosecco Floats BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 75 WINTER 2016-2017