Food is the universal way to bring people together. So instead of hosting a ho-hum cocktail party, throw a party that lets your guests create something together – and bond over it – a cooking party!
What’s a cooking party? It’s an interactive party where your kitchen takes center stage and your guests become chefs. Cooking breaks down barriers among folks who don’t know each other well, providing ways for them to find common ground through the simple act of preparing a meal. Your friends learn something new, create an amazing meal, and take pride in a job well done… the whole process just makes people feel good, and is fun too!
One of the easiest ways to host one is to have a “small plates” party – a menu of sumptuous appetizers (often called small plates) that offers a range of tantalizing flavors. It’s a great way to experiment with several recipes and give guests a range of tasty foods to try.
Choose recipes that require various pieces of equipment and appliances so guests aren’t competing for the grill, oven or blender. Or ask guests to bring certain tools or gadgets for preparing specific dishes. For a party of eight to ten, choose four or five recipes to prepare and share, with two people on each team.
Make a detailed shopping list and don’t forget items like wooden skewers that you may not already have. Give yourself time to locate more exotic ingredients. Buy the produce, meats and cheeses from top grocers. Buy any fish or shellfish the day of the party and keep on ice in the refrigerator.
Set up stations
Divide your kitchen into a separate workstation for each recipe, making sure each station has cooking essentials like knives and measuring cups. If more than one person is working on a recipe, make copies of the recipe for each cook.
You can reduce cooking times for some recipes by planning ahead. For example, marinate meats, parboil vegetables or cook bacon for crumbling into a dish. Prepare something light for your guests to snack on as they cook; marinated olives or pita chips with hummus are good choices.
Divide guests into teams (or couples) and assign each a recipe. Try to pair experienced cooks with beginners, and separate couples so they get a chance to meet new people. If someone doesn’t want to cook, ask him or her to mix cocktails or take photos. As the host, give yourself simple tasks so you can mingle and help guests find their way around your kitchen.
Potluck cocktail party – throw a great party with a little help from your friends. Choose a selection of recipes and send a recipe in the invitation, asking each guest to bring a different prepared dish on their own serving platter. That makes cleanup easier for you.
Small plates dinner party – choose a selection of international recipes to create a unique theme. For example, with Mediterranean recipes, you can serve drinks in Moroccan tea glasses and drape colorful scarves over windows and chairs.
Small plates shower – wedding and baby showers are ideal events for a small-plates menu. Keeping the menu simple and elegant keeps the spotlight on the guest of honor. For a baby shower, offer a sampling of desserts with champagne and sparkling juices. Or throw a co-ed wedding shower: choose one or two savory small plates, pair them with an inventive cocktail and set them up side-by-side at stations throughout the party space. Have a kitchen shower and ask guests to bring the couple gifts for their kitchen that relate to the recipes being prepared.
Tell us – what did you serve at your last party?
Asiago And Pepperoni Puff Pastry Pizzas
- 2 oz. packaged sliced pepperoni (about 24 slices), cut into small dice
- 1/2 cup aged Asiago cheese, grated
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3 ounce package), thawed
- Flour for dusting work surface while rolling out dough
- 2 Tablespoons honey-Dijon mustard
- Fresh thyme for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Pizza Filling: Mix diced pepperoni, Asiago cheese, dried thyme, dried oregano, kosher salt and black pepper in a medium bowl.
Puff Pastry: Flour your work surface. Unfold puff pastry. Roll out pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a small 2 1/2 inch circle pastry cutter, cut out 30 rounds. Transfer rounds to parchment-lined sheet pan and prick each circle 3 times with a fork. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and set a baking sheet on top. Bake pastry for about 10 minutes, then remove the sheet pan and bake until browned, about 5 more minutes; remove pastry from oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
Make Pizzas: Brush mustard on cooked puff pastry. Place a full teaspoon of the cheese and some pepperoni mixture on top.
Bake Pizzas: Bake 5-7 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. Serve immediately garnished with a sprig of thyme.
Makes 30 pizzas; 3 per person/10 servings.
Ease of preparation: easy to medium
Prep time vs. make time: Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: about 25 minutes total.
Estimated cost: $23 total
Have enough equipment to go around? Stock up on Kenmore countertop appliances before your cooking party.
An extra cooktop in the kitchen will help your cooking party go smoothly. The sturdy
Kenmore Elite® induction hot plate travels wherever the party requires and heats up quickly.