I'll admit that I don't warm the plates every time I serve someone food, but when it feels special, I always try to give them a little kiss of warmth. Here are a few ways of doing it.
- Put them in the oven at its lowest setting (150° F on most US ovens) - if you have a toaster oven and the plates fit, use it. It will use less energy to heat up. This is my mom's system.
- Run them under some really hot water then quickly towel dry them just before plating a meal. This is Maxwell's preferred method which I don't think is the most effective, but he likes the flair of the hot water and the crisp white towel taking its licks at each plate.
- Use an electric plate warmer: think of it as a plug-in tower of hot pillows for your plates. My mother-in-law has one of these in a green jacquard pattern similar to the one pictured above. It is something I will always associate with her.
- If you're already using the oven to cook something for the meal, stack the plates on top of the oven between the burners. Rotate the stack now and then so the bottom plate doesn't get too toasty and the top one doesn't get jipped on the heat. This is what I end up doing most often.
• Plate Warmer, $49.95 at Sur La Table