– Always make fun…of yourself. Strategically using self-deprecating humor will disarm even the most shy dinner party guest. Perhaps point out how fabulous the host’s homemade cookies look and recall the time you tried to make cookies yourself and your husband put them in the charcoal grill to light the BBQ. This is exceptionally important if you have enviable abilities that might be off-putting to another party-goer. Like, say, if you designed rockets for NASA, have been on The Voice, or if you’re just freakishly beautiful. However, use self-deprecating humor sparingly. No one needs to know that you had explosive bowel movements last week either.
– Don’t pull the “Oh! Yes! I met you at Sean’s BBQ last week!” when meeting your friend’s new boyfriend or girlfriend. Conversely, don’t go to a party, see your friend with his girlfriend and say, “Oh! So great to meet you!” when it’s the 100th time you’ve seen her. I have no tips here for how to remember people. Just don’t do either of these!
– Divide and conquer. Couples, you don’t need to be attached at the hip at dinner parties. Increasing your circle of friends will make any relationship healthier and more dynamic. Spend a few minutes mingling separately and reconvene throughout the night. And ladies, don’t be that bat shit crazy girl that has to sit on her boyfriend’s lap and caress his hair while he’s trying to reach for the beer nuts to mark your territory.
– Don’t ask for food items when they’re clearly not out. I once hosted a UFC watch party, with a full spread of slow cooked ribs, Buffalo wings, sliders and other various yummy dude-approved items. Well, a guy friend brought a date and she eye balled the table, looked at me like I was the maid and asked, “Do you have anything sweet?!?” My response: “No Princess Annoying, I do not have an assorted dessert platter to tickle your fancy”.
– Always bring a gift for the host. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…always bring a small token for the host. It can be a bottle of wine, a bottle of fancy olive oil, or flowers. Be creative, you can even bring a small potted herb like parsley or a kitchen gadget for the host that loves to cook.
I recently hosted a dinner party this past weekend and it made me think about how life is about new beginnings and how we’re constantly changing. It was five couples and almost all of the guests were once divorced. Although everyone knew my boyfriend and me of course, a few of the couples were just meeting each other. Luckily everyone really got along like champs. It was a winning moment for me and the boyfriend, where we ended the night high fiving each other on a successful dinner party. It wasn’t about what we served; it was about how well everyone got along. It’s always a risk introducing new people to each other and you always hope and pray that everyone gets along and doesn’t tell stupid jokes or gets excessively drunk. As a host, it’s not about having a menu of obscure fancy dishes and you needn’t slave over a stove all day to make a successful dinner party. Conversely, as a guest, you don’t need to wear the fanciest clothes or bring the most expensive bottle of wine. Just show appreciation for other guests and a genuine interest in getting to know them and you’ll make memories for a long time to come. At this dinner party, I decided to cook something simple and what I like to call “fit for a dinner party”. I made a few dishes, but the ones that I was quite proud of were the Shrimp and Veggie Tempura and Soba Noodle Salad with Edamame, Cilantro and Red Bell Peppers.
As guests were arriving, we chatted at the bar and I made the veggie and shrimp tempura and served it hot. It was such a hit, that I wanted to eat it all and not share any with the guests. I generally don’t like cooking while guests arrive. However, I used my IMUSA electric wok, and plugged it in on the counter and it made a remarkably amazing fryer and I was able to chat and face my guests and leisurely make the shrimp tempura. I used an IMUSA bamboo steamer as the serving ware and it made for a great presentation. The noodles also were a nice light balance to the tempura and can be served room temperature or cold. They’re also a dinner party workhorse…they’re vegetarian, healthy and high in protein. You can also make the noodles hours before and just store in a Tupperware container in the fridge and just serve once everyone’s ready to eat! Make these at your next dinner party and it’ll give you time to do more important things, like actually talk to your guests!
Shrimp and Veggie Tempura
- 2 cups of tempura batter
- 1 ½ cups of cold water
- 1 lbs of large raw deveined shrimp
- 1 onion, cut up into slices
- 1 bell pepper, cut into slices
- 3 cups of vegetable oil
Using your IMUSA electric wok, or IMUSA Caldero, pour in the oil and turn to Medium High to High Heat. While it’s heating, pour the cold water over the tempura batter in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until it’s all blended, about a minute or so. When the oil’s nice and hot, take each piece of shrimp and thoroughly coat on all sides and dip into the oil using a pair of tongs. Don’t overcrowd the shrimp, and fry only about 4-5 at a time, working in batches. Follow with the veggies pieces, working in batches. Once it gets a nice golden brown, remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve on your IMUSA bamboo steamer with a side of store bough tempura sauce and voila, you’re done!
Soba Noodle Salad with Cilantro, Bell Peppers and Shelled Edamame
- I lb of Buckwheat Soba Noodles
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of cilantro
- ½ cup of shelled edamame
- 1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds
For the Sauce:
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons agave
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
Using a large IMUSA stock pot, take about 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. Put in the soba noodles and cook according to package directions, usually about 4-5 minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, make your sauce. Pour in all liquid ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Lastly throw in the ginger and garlic and whisk together. Once the noodles are done, drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Once the noodles are cool, put in a large bowl and pour the sauce over the noodles. Using a pair of plastic tongs, mix thoroughly. Add the bell peppers, cilantro and edamame. Mix some more and finally add the sesame seeds until blended together. Serve immediately or you can store in a Tupperware container, until dinner time! Enjoy!