I had a duh moment while grocery shopping for a dinner party I'll be hosting this weekend. Poking around in the produce section of a local Korean market, I was about to grab a couple heads of garlic when I spotted a box of already-peeled garlic cloves. Why hadn't I ever thought of this shortcut before?
Q: My friends and I want to host a community dinner for some international friends at the local university. I'm supposed to provide an ethnic main dish but have no idea what to make! I have a limited budget and limited time to cook. I would also love to incorporate as much seasonal New England produce as possible. Any ideas?
Q: To celebrate my friend's birthday this year we are planning a potluck dinner. We anticipate about 20-25 guests. How can we coordinate with the attendees to make sure that we don't have an overwhelming amount of food or even worse — not enough food? Is this feasible or are we in over our heads?
A few weeks ago my friend Jessica texted me: "My team will be in Columbus! Any idea of some hosts that could host a team of 15 bikers? Our places fell thru! :(" Jessica, you see, is biking across the country, from Seattle to New York City, with an expedition tour company. They are bunking down in schools, churches, and gyms along the way. I couldn't pass up a chance to see her, and to cook for a group of hardcore bikers!
I wanted to share the menu with you, because, as it turned out, the group reminded me of many of the questions we get here at The Kitchn about what to serve a crowd with mixed dietary needs. Here's what we had...
Q: Within my circle of best friends, I have a vegetarian who's allergic to avocado, one person allergic to eggplant and dislikes mushrooms, and one person on a low-carb diet. Do you have any suggestions on what I can serve at a dinner party? I'm stuck.
Q: I've been given the task of creating a menu for my sister's upcoming wedding and I want to create a meal that's a little more creative and elegant. It's a low-budget, DIY wedding with a loose Italian theme for the food. I'm looking for seasonal, budget-friendly ideas for a pasta and salad bar to feed 150!
Tomorrow is the 4th of July, Independence Day, and the high point of the year for sparklers, corn on the cob, and blueberry-strawberry desserts. Whatever would we do without blueberries and strawberries on July 4th? How else would we make our flag cakes and patriotic fruit pinwheels? But as I thought about what dessert to bring you today, I was inspired by the fact that red and blue fruits extend beyond our ubiquitous berry friends. And on the 4th of July I want to enjoy ripe summer fruit as much as possible.
So here is a trifle for your holiday that is really more fruit than cake, with cherries and raspberries and blackberries squeezed between homemade pudding and cream, meant to be eaten outside in the sunshine, before dips in the pool and runs through the sprinkler.
Q: My family has been enjoying grilled pizzas using your recipe and we are loving them! We are going to be hosting a party for the 4th of July, and wondered if you have ever made up the pizza crusts in advance and frozen them? And if so, do you just freeze the raw dough and pull out when it's time to throw on the grill?
Let's talk pasta salads. There are delightfully creamy versions with mayo and there are garlicky ones with pesto. There are pasta salads made with couscous (tiny pasta!) and ones with tortellini. But pretty much any way you bring a pasta salad together, it's guaranteed to be great. Picnic-ready and coming soon to a cookout near you, here are our top 15 pasta salads for 4th of July party.
Q: My husband's family's annual vacation involves about 40 relatives in a cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota. Each couple cooks a meal during the week for the bunch, usually something like tacos, hot dogs or casserole. I like to do something different — any suggestions for a simple meal to feed many?