We all have been there at least one time ! messy kitchen, burnt food and a crazy stressful person standing in the kitchen shouting at every single person cross by even the kitchenware has taken its share from shouting and throwing.
And only one thought is dominating your mind right now ! why I did this to myself ?
I still remember one of those days in Ramadan, it was a seafood Iftar and I stood frying shrimps/calamari and fish fillets for more than two hours in the summer heat for 40+ persons ! Can you imagine this !
Yes handling such gatherings are difficult but not impossible !
How ? identify the gathering type and by this I mean; brunch, lunch, dinner ,casual, formal, coffee/tea gathering and the list goes on !
By being goal oriented, organized and planning ahead, this will remain challenging yet a lot easier !Sounds academic huh? Excuse my career background !
Since cooking has been my passion for ages so I have handled all kinds of gatherings and from A to Z without any assistance ! so if I can do it, surly you can do it !
Let’s get straight to the point and I am going to simplify my experience in Tips ,Dos and Don’ts and recommendations!
- Get your ingredients:
Usually most of us take this step slightly and depend on the home delivery service in case of missed an item ! but if you want to escape the hassle you have to take this step seriously
- The best time to get all ingredients is 3-4 days before the gathering ! too early some ingredients might be not fresh anymore or even expired, too late you will definitely do this step in a hurry that will surely lead to missing some items so the safest is always the in between !
- Write all the menu on a note on your mobile and under each dish write every single ingredient you will be using; this step will never allow you to forget any of the ingredients you are looking for, you will have in front of you what you have and what you don’t, and when you go to the hyper market you can easily erase every single thing already in kart so you will never get lost !
- Choose a cozy small hyper market; believe me those large hyper markets will cause you dizziness and you will keep rolling and go from the east to the west and your energy will be drained on literally nothing ! make sure before you leave each section that you get all your needs so you don’t get back and forth.
- Don’t exaggerate in the food quantities ! it has nothing to do with your generosity level ! we always end up having so much leftovers ! Choose Quality over Quantity !
It is time to get things done ! I used to do a very common mistake; I escape this step and I do everything on the same gathering day waking up early believing that by doing this all food are fresh ! I ended up dramatically exhausted and barely I can walk !
The most convenient plan is to start the night before for a general preparations divided into sections as follows:
- Marinating and breading: whether chicken, beef ,fish. All items that need to be marinated have to be left over night to get all the flavors together.
- Salads: any salad that does not contain fresh greens like potato salad, pasta salad, Most important tip is to be covered with cling film firmly to maintain both freshness and not to catch any other’s food smell.
For the salads that contains veggies such as lettuce, cucumber etc…; you can prepare the dressings and if it contains croutons you can also prepare it a day ahead.
- Desserts: This has to be done a day ahead for many reasons:
- First of all it takes a hell of time.
- It is always better to leave the desserts a good time to rest before serving.
- Some desserts need to be refrigerated and I do believe so much in the “overnight “ philosophy !
- All preparations could be done a day ahead except if it the dessert is Ice cream !
- Baked dishes: I usually prepare these a day ahead except the oven baking step and it remains fresh and delicious such as lasagna, potatoes gratin, macaroni béchamel etc…
- Final touches and Serving:
Tik Tok Tik Tok ! Here comes the big day !
Here you go some general tips to follow for a smooth day :
- Don’t stress yourself, don’t wake up so early and don’t rush. Everything will be OKAY!
- 5 mainly things are meant to be done on the same gathering day; pasta, rice, salads that include fresh greens, appetizers and tagines. So get things done in the morning while you have all the time.
- In most of the cases, the invitees do not come on time ! it is our nature in Egypt !So what I did and worked well ! I put the food on the serving dishes and cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm and cling film for cold items ! so whenever they come I serve immediately to the dining table !
At the end, yes preparing food and serving it perfectly is important ! but what it is important too are the warmth welcoming, serving from the heart and the good vibes!
Cooking from the heart will always reach the hearts despite your cooking skills and techniques.
All those tips is upon my personal experience, I really love to hear yours ! I am sure you all have valuable tips to share so this blog will be a very good reference to any person who is planning to do such gatherings!
Photoshoot by : http://instagram.com/itsbumbledee