Ask Caitlin: Simple Dinner Get together Concepts

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Caitlin O’Malley is Goops Food Director. She gives us recipes, take-away recommendations, and advice on anything non-food. She makes us laugh every day. She is wise, as you can see for yourself in the sixth episode of The goop Lab on Netflix: “Are You Intuit?”

Dear Caitlin, Now that I am fully vaccinated, I am very much looking forward to having dinner parties this summer. But to be honest, I may not be able to do as much as I used to – my social stamina is no longer the same as it was last year. Do you have any tips on how to keep it casual and simple without missing out on the fun? – Julie

Dear Julie, I’m right there with you! After hosting my first post-vax event (an outdoor birthday dinner for four), I was surprisingly hidden. I forgot how much fun work can be. I’ve always focused on hosting a no-frills, casual atmosphere – which makes your guests feel comfortable and less work for you – and I think strategy can also help us get back into the world of gatherings and dinner parties. Here are some ideas that might help.

A STREAMLINED SERVING SET

The Falcon enamel baking set is great for baking – it’s safe to put on the oven, hob and even freezer. But referring to it as a baking set is my favorite use for this five-piece set that doubles as a serving dish for outdoor entertainment. This timeless enamel look has a cool camping feel to it. And the pans are both sturdy and light, so nobody has to be too precious to hand over the peas. The enamel coating may flake off a bit over time, but the pans are still safe to use and these imperfections give them character and a vibrant feel. I use them to go straight from the oven to the table, like with a chicken, lasagna, or roasted vegetables. Or I use them as serving dishes for cold salads or even for small side dishes like sauces and pickles – the different sizes in this set make it particularly useful. And yes, these are great for pastries too. Cobbler, cakes, biscuits, cakes – all can be boiled and served in the enamel.

  1. Falcon enamelware baking set

    Falcon enamel ware backset goop, $ 115

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A HIGH-IMPACT LOW-LIFT MENU

Nobody wants to be amazed with too many dishes going at the same time while you are hosting. Prepare for success by offering a mix of homemade, make-ahead, and no-cook, or store-bought items. For example, if your menu is Mediterranean, focus on a great main course like kofta, falafel or kebab and maybe make a simple side like grilled vegetables or a salad. Good olives and flatbreads can be bought in the store and don’t need to be cooked. Dips like hummus and tzatziki can be prepared in advance or bought back in the store.

A well thought-out DIY bar

A DIY bar is great fun for diners, especially if you make the effort to have all of the equipment available. Fortunately, this can all be done well in advance, and you don’t end up having to make drinks all night. Set up a table with a selection of liquors, mixers, bitters, tonic, seltzer, ice cream, some beers, and some different bottles of wine. Set up a mixing station with a shaker. small dishes with olives, cocktail onions and cherries; and a bowl of citrus fruits, along with a paring knife and cutting board. Fresh herbs like mint and basil are also nice additions to the mix. A few more thoughtful additions: put out a cocktail book or print out a few cocktail recipes for inspiration. Toothpicks and reusable straws are also useful. Oh, and don’t forget a little scrap peel for citrus peel.

  1. Earl Cocktail Straws

    EARL Cocktail Straws goop, $ 120

    Ideal for slurping highballs.

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  2. Caravan Bistro glasses

    Caravan Bistro glasses goop, $ 68

    Less chic than a traditional one
    rocks glass, but it’s still fun.

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  3. Nappa Dori Bar tool kit

    Nappa Dori Bar Tool Kit goop, $ 157

    Every tool, for every rod
    Trick in the book.

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