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produced by  ANNA KOCHARIAN

Hosting a dinner party can be all kinds of stressful. We know. Between planning out the menu, shopping, making the food, and actually hosting, things can get a bit overwhelming, especially for the first-time host. So we enlisted the help of food and entertaining expert extraordinaire Giada De Laurentiis, to school us on the art of hosting the ultimate dinner party. Take a look!

GIADA

TIP #1: all good dinner parties start with a theme

One thing I love to do is personalize cocktail napkins by monogramming them or picking ones that enhance the theme. It’s a simple detail, but adds a nice personal touch!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THEME FOR A DINNER PARTY?
I love doing potluck parties. They’re easy to put together and it’s fun to try everyone’s dishes!

A

TIP #2: music is a huge part of a dinner party

Design a playlist around the event or theme of the night. For a more intimate experience, find out who your guests’ favorite artists are and put them on a playlist!

A

TIP #3: welcome guests with a cocktail

Cocktails are one of my favorite parts of entertaining. Having a light cocktail like a Frizzante, is something that everyone can enjoy from the moment they walk in, plus it’s a fun way to welcome guests.

TIP #4: serve dinner family-style

Family style is my favorite method when serving an outdoor gathering. Everyone is family when they come over to my place so I like to get them involved in carrying the dishes out the table, while I finish plating them. That way, when I am through with plating, the food is magically already where it should be, and we are ready to eat!

One benefit of serving food family style is that it gets people talking. Guests can help themselves and go back for seconds of what they love without having to make anyone get up and leave the table. Be sure to make enough food for everyone to have a little bit of everything, and then some!

TIP #5: keep the decor of the table fresh, light, and welcoming

Use simple white plates and a limited assortment of glassware. With all the passing of food and drink around the table, no one wants to knock anything over. When it comes to the design, I like to use small individual succulents for color and life around the table. They are reasonably priced, so I often encourage guest to take one home with them as a parting gift after the meal.

FAST FIVE

WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO DISHES FOR A CASUAL DINNER PARTY WITH CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY?
I love to prepare Bisteca Fiorentina. One or two of them can easily feed a small dinner gathering. Add my white beans with cavalo nero and a big chopped salad and you have a comforting meal with minimal clean up!

WHERE DO YOU SEEK OR FIND INSPIRATION WHEN SETTING A MENU FOR A DINNER PARTY?
I usually find inspiration from family traditions, farmer’s markets, and what’s in season.

ANY TIPS FOR THE FIRST TIME HOST?
I love having something interactive for guests to do while I’m finishing up in the kitchen. I usually set up a cocktail bar- for a holiday party last year, I did my Lemon Hazelnut Spritz and set out a bottle of prosecco, a bottle of Frangelico, and lemon twists for guests to assemble their own cocktails.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Always trust your gut.

IF YOU COULD ONLY EAT ONE THING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Chocolate cake!

GIADA

ROASTED CHICKEN CACCIATORE

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons tomato vegetable juice, such as V-8
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (3 pound) chicken, cut into 6 pieces

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 3 cups diced bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small fennel, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, from 1 lemon
  • additional olive oil to finish, optional

To the bowl of a small food processor add the garlic, onion powder, fennel seed, oregano, salt, paprika, vegetable juice and olive oil. Puree until it forms a rough paste. Place the chicken pieces in a resealable plastic bag. Add the paste to the bag and rub the marinade all over the chicken pieces. Seal the bag and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place one rack in the middle of the oven and another in the top third of the oven.

Remove the chicken form the bag and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the diced bread cubes with the olive oil and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese. When the 30 minutes has elapsed, remove the tray form the oven and scatter the bread cubes around the chicken pieces. Place the tray back in the oven, this time on the top third, for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the chicken is golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes.

To the same large bowl add the tomatoes, fennel, basil, lemon juice, the toasted bread cubes, the remaining parmesan cheese and all of the juices from the chicken tray. Add a bit of olive oil if needed depending on the amount of juice from the chicken. Toss well with a large spoon. Serve the bread salad along side the roasted chicken.

Prep time:

 4 hours and 30 minutes, mostly unattended

Cook time:

 45 minutes

Yield:

 Serves 4

GIADA

WHITE BEANS AND CAVALO NERO

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

  • 2 cups dry white beans, such as cannellini
  • 6 cups water, bottled preferred
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus
  • 2 tablespoons
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a medium dutch oven combine the white beans, water, sage, garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place over medium high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low just to maintain a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The beans should be just tender all the way through.

Add the kale, salt and chili flakes to the beans and stir to combine. Cover the pan and simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until the kale is wilted and tender. Stir in the remaining olive oil and cheese to finish.

Prep time: 

5 minutes

Cook time:

 1 hour 35 minutes, mostly unattended 

Yield: 

serves 6 to 8

GIADA

FRIAR’S MULE

Created by Enzo Cangemi

  • 1 part Frangelico
  • 1.5 parts Wild Turkey
  • .75 parts sassafras syrup
  • .5 parts lemon juice
  • 2 dashes cherry chocolate bitters
  • Top off with IPA
GIADA

DOC

Created by Enzo Cangemi

  • 1 part Frangelico
  • 1.5 parts Espolon Silver
  • .75 parts lime juice
  • .75 parts slightly spicy bell pepper puree
  • Thyme
  • Salt rim
GIADA