It’s pretty typical these days to have a mixed crowd at your dinner party with many different tastes and needs. But fear not, you can still throw a fabulous, down-home dinner party to please everyone.
“The idea is to have a menu that is diverse enough to appeal to all parties,” says Corbin Tomaszeski, co-host of Dinner Party Wars, which premieres Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. on the Food Network Canada. For hosting your own dinner party, he suggests starting with old-time favourites such as pasta, rice or classic Italian risotto dishes and adding meat or fish for the carnivores.
For vegetarians, try bean cassoulet or vegetable ragout, suggests Tomaszeski, who is also the executive chef at Toronto’s fashionable Holts Café (Holt Renfrew). Keep it fresh for everyone — including those who are dieting or cleansing — with soups and stews, salads, and chopped fresh vegetables. Avoid shellfish and nuts, so that those with allergies can share the fare. “The trick is to prepare a dish without reinventing it but that can be modular for all guests with dietary restrictions or allergies.”
Even the simple, one-pot wonder can work at a dinner party. “Right now there’s a huge trend of people cooking easy, classic dishes that go back to the roots of cooking and are reminiscent of comfort foods that we grew up with,” says Tomaszeski. “Cook foods you’re familiar with; take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.
“Preparing and eating food should spark a memory. If it doesn’t, it should make one.”
You can serve your dinner party family-style without sacrificing quality. It’s all in the presentation. “Use big, lovely platters or terrines. Or bowls that sit on the table and get passed around,” suggests Tomaszeski.
If you want to take a break from your own dinner party triumphs and disasters, tune into Dinner Party Wars. Each show features three couples over three nights of competition to see which one is best at setting the table, choosing the menu, cooking, leading the conversation and keeping the kitchen on track. Co-host Anthea Turner provides hosting Do’s and Don’ts.
For the vegan…
This quinoa salad is perfect to be served to vegan and health conscious eaters. Gently toss all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Line a large platter with whole leaves of your favourite lettuce. Place the mixed quinoa salad on the lined platter and garnish with fresh basil cress.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
- 2 whole raw rapini — cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 raw green beans — sliced in half lengthwise
- 4 raw purple beans — sliced in half lengthwise
- 4 raw yellow beans sliced in half lengthwise
- 6 yellow tear drop tomatoes — halved
- 6 red cherry tomatoes — halved
- ½ clove garlic minced
- 1 cup quinoa — cooked
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 4-6 tbsp.roasted-tomato vinaigrette
- 2 cups whole arugula leaves
- 8 halves of roasted plum tomato — skinned and seeded
- 1 garlic clove — minced
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Pass through a sieve and chill until use.
For the meat eater…
This Spicy Rubbed Alberta Beef T-Bone with mashed Avocado and Tomato will be devoured by carnivores.
Preheat the BBQ to 380-degrees. Rub the steaks on all sides with olive oil and BBQ rub mix. Grill each steak to desired doneness and remove from heat. Cover the steaks lightly with aluminium foil and allow to rest 10 minutes.
While the steak is resting, prepare the avocado and tomato relish by combining the mashed avocado, diced tomato, chilies, and cumin with the lime juice. Mix until blended and season with salt and pepper.
Place the grilled steaks onto a large serving plate and serving with a large dollop of the mashed avocado. Serve the steak immediately.
- 2 -12 oz T-bone steaks
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ cup Corbin’s Essential Rub
- ¾ cup mashed avocado and tomato relish
Chef Corbin’s Essential BBQ Rub:
- 1 tbsp. toasted ground cumin seed
- 2 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp, cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. black pepper
- ½ tbsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp. ground oregano
- ½ tbsp. ground thyme
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
Mashed Avocado and Tomato Relish:
- 1 avocado, mashed
- 1 large tomato, diced medium
- ¼ Thai red chili
- Pinch of ground cumin
- Juice from 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste