Impromptu Entertaining with Expert Laura Calder

Laura Calder for FoodiePages

We’re all too familiar with the panic that arises as the doorbell rings and you realize you’ve got unexpected company and little to nothing prepared for them. First, take a deep breath. Second, read through some of Laura’s best tips for welcoming impromptu guests with ease and grace. From thoughts on simple meals to cocktails on a whim, she’ll save your hide with these tips and tricks!

…ON THE PERFECT WELCOME COCKTAIL – Gin and Tonic with a capful of Campari. It’s pretty and pink with a hint of bitterness. A summer favourite around here.

…ON STOCKING YOUR BAR – I’m more of a wine person, myself, so my short answer is “bubbles!” Otherwise, scotch, gin, vodka and vermouth are ultra basics, plus a few mixers like ginger ale, soda water, tonic, and bitters. Luckily I cook a lot, so there’s always a supply of citrus and herbs if we want to get creative. Sometimes I just throw a strip of orange peel or a few raspberries into sparkling wine for an effortless twist.

…ON QUICK MEAL IDEAS – A chicken sauté, such as Tarragon Chicken, with green beans or asparagus feels like proper home cooking and it takes no time to put together. You can serve a lemon drizzle loaf afterwards, which is also a snap.  I can my own tomatoes every summer so I can always crack open a jar and make a quick sauce, maybe with some tuna added and a little cream. A well made omelette with a salad is very elegant. A roasted slab of salmon with cucumber salad or roast chicken with a simple slaw is another easy route. There are so many options, and sometimes it’s having to come up with something on the spot using whatever’s around that sparks the most inspired ideas.

…ON FANCY-ING UP SOME HUMBLE POPCORN – A few drops of Tabasco in the oil at the start is an idea. Good butter is all it needs (my husband makes it from organic cream) and salt, but I have read about adding nutritional yeast to give a cheese-free cheesy flavour. I’m dying to try that.

…ON CONFIDENCE – “All that matters is ambiance and you,” is what a friend once said to me. It’s not the food, it’s not how grand your living space is, it’s all about how you make people feel.

Laura Calder curates our April CHEF’S BOX filled with small batch ingredients, recipes and tips for impromptu entertaining. 

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