It's your party —so get out of the kitchen! Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, friends and cofounders of the online cooking community Food52, share a simple crostini strategy that's really something to celebrate. Have a baguette and a tub of good ricotta? Well then you're halfway there. Read on for party-hosting tips from Amanda and Merrill, and three delicious recipes.
What are your secrets for a successful party?
Amanda: The most important ingredient is the guests. You have to invite the right mix of people. If it's a dinner party, I invite one really funny person and sit them in the middle of the table.
Merrill: Make as much food ahead of time as you can. You want only one, maybe two things you have to do at the last minute —hopefully nothing during the party, if you can get away with it.
Amanda: And don't forget about the lighting. It's easy to overlook, but the usual lights are too much for a party. Now's the time to pull out your cancles. Especially for the holidays! They really set the mood.
How do you avoid stress when you're hosting?
Amanda: If you're the person running the food, I always think it's a good idea to have someone else be the one who greets people. Answering the doorbell is a recipe for burned crostini! In my house, my husband gets the door and my kids take the coats. It's subcontracting!
Merrill: I agree. My sister and I were always in charge of passing hors d'oeuvres when we were little. It was great because we learned how to talk to adults, and my parents got to pawn off some of the work.
What do you like about these crostini?
Merrill: We're both slightly obsessed with ricotta -- creamy dairy in general, really, but ricotta especially because it's so mild and versatile. You can start with the same base and end up with three different hors d'oeuvres without a lot of hassle.
Amanda: These three in particular are a nice balance. There's sweetness in the lemon-honey one, bitterness in the broccoli rabe, and a rich acidity in the onion jam. But if you're only going to mak eone, make it the honey-and-lemon one. It's Merrill's specialty and people love it.
Merrill: And you probably already have most of the ingredients around your kitchen!