Boy, am I feeling party ready now!!!
Yesterday afternoon, Kelly Ripa and award-winning chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio hosted a group of bloggers in New York City at the ultimate party ready boot camp, demonstrating quick and delicious food and beverage ideas and offering other helpful last-minute entertaining tips.
The event was part of a campaign by Electrolux to support The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. When people visit www.kelly-confidential.com and take Kelly’s ‘Are You Party Ready?’ challenge, $1 will automatically go to OCRF as part of Electrolux’s $750,000 commitment to the cause. You’ll also be entered for a chance to win a new Electrolux French Door Refrigerator, which makes pyramid-shaped ice! Apparently, it melts slower than regular ol’ ice. Who knew!?
Before the event started, I mingled with PR folks and other bloggers. The space where the event was held was absolutely beautiful, and rumor has it that the Kelly’s Cake Off was held in the exact same place. It looked a lot different yesterday!
While waiting for the event to start, I sipped on a fruity beverage.
And enjoyed a few appetizers, which were courtesy of Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft.
A little while later, it was time for the party ready boot camp!
If you’re at all like me, impromptu entertaining makes me panic– even though I really love to entertain. Kelly and Tom showed us how to make last-minute entertaining less daunting (and more fun!) no matter what the occasion.
Here are a few of Chef Tom’s tips to keep in mind for easy entertaining:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. You don’t need to wow your guests with five dishes, do it with three. That way you’re not spending too much time in the kitchen, and you can entertain your guests.
- Pasta is a quick and easy go-to dish, plus it feeds a full house. Make sure to have an array of pastas in the cabinet so it’s easy to prepare a delicious, satisfying dish anytime.
- Trying to impress? Grilling a steak is quick and can be easily dressed up with a simple, store-bought (or easily prepared at home) relish, sauce or tapenade. Add in some grilled or marinated vegetables for a complete meal.
The first dish that Colicchio prepared was a tasting plate of cheeses, artisan meats, nuts, and dried fruit. He paired these items with sliced French bread and all sort of jams, spreads, and tapenades—pretty much anything goes.
Chef Tom highly recommended this type of dish for last-minute gatherings because it doesn’t require much preparation and you can use what you have on-hand in your kitchen. Colicchio explains:
The secret to being ready when friends and family drop in is to keep the right staples on hand. I always have several bottles of my favorite wine chilling in the fridge and a host of go-to edibles in my pantry so I can pull together a quick bite or even a light meal at a moment’s notice.
While Tom and Kelly prepared their tasting plate, Allie and I shared our own cheese plate and sipped on some champagne.
I felt so fancy!
Chef Tom is a big fan of pasta for a quick and easy dish, so he showed us how to make a wonderful springtime pasta. I don’t know the exact pasta recipe that Tom used, but I can tell you the gist of what he did to make it.
While waiting for the water to boil, he chopped broccoli rabe and minced some garlic. Once the water was boiling, he threw in the pasta, and, a little while later, he added the broccoli and the garlic.
Once the pasta and broccoli were finished cooking, he drained the majority of the water, but left a little bit in the pot to coat the pasta. Chef Tom then added freshly grated cheese to the pasta. (He says you taste more of the cheese flavor by allowing it to coat the pasta instead of adding it to the sauce.) Finally, Tom added some minced black olives and anchovies to the dish.
Mmm… I loved this so much! This dish was so easy to make— even I could do it! I’m excited to try this one at home for myself.
The next Party Ready dish that Chef Colicchio prepared was a simple roast chicken with thinly sliced red peppers and golden raisins, which were sautéed in olive oil and sugar. So delicious!
For dessert, Colicchio served pistachio biscotti with a dollop of Mascarpone cheese with chopped pistachios and candied orange rind. Marcarpone cheese is a-mazing! How did I not realize this until now!?! Colicchio said he also enjoys it on toast for breakfast. Yum!
Group shots with Kelly and Tom!
Allie and me!
A big thank you to Electrolux for inviting me to such a fun (and helpful) event! It was absolutely amazing sharing an afternoon with Kelly and Tom!
What are your tips for last-minute entertaining?