SIMPLE AND ENDLESSLY VERSATILE, THIS RECIPE COULD BE THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF A STRESS-FREE WEEKNIGHT DINNER PARTY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RJ GOODWIN
The best parties are the fun ones—the ones you leave with a smile on your face. But if you are the host, there can sometimes be too much to do to enjoy your own event. Take heed—these three tips for stress-free party planning will help you relax and enjoy the night:
1. Weeknight over weekend. Everyone’s weekends are so busy that scheduling becomes a nightmare. Why not pick a weeknight when more of your guests are available? Since nobody expects you to take the day off to cook and clean, expectations are automatically lower, and by having people over on a weeknight, they tend to say goodnight faster.
2. Keep the guest list small. The best parties are often the smaller ones, giving you a chance to have more interesting conversations and get to know your friends on a closer level. Inviting 4-6 guests is a good number for that, without too much work involved.
3. Cook only one thing. It’s tempting to try too hard and attempt more dishes than you should. Keep the menu simple, but make things festive by serving in nice dishes. Plan to make only one thing yourself and assemble the rest. For instance, the recipe below for a savory Dutch Baby makes for a fun, dramatic (but quick) main course. Serve with a Spinach-Strawberry salad and some good ice cream with store-bought pound cake for dessert and you have a party!
Makes 4-6 servings per “baby”
Prep time: 20 min
Total time: 45 min
3 extra large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2+1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur brand)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Place a 12” cast iron skillet in the oven and heat to 450 degrees. Let skillet heat up for 20 minutes while you prepare the batter.
In a regular blender, blend eggs until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add milk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and blend for another 10 seconds. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper and blend just to combine.
Remove the skillet from oven and carefully pour remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into it and swirl quickly to coat. Before the butter burns, pour the blender-batter into the skillet. Bake until settled in the middle and puffy and brown around the edges. Don’t worry if one side is taller than the other; that’s part of the fun (and it will sink down, somewhat).
A Dutch Baby lends itself equally well to both savory and sweet toppings without changes to the recipe. It’s a blank canvas for being creative! Here are some of my favorites:
• Mascarpone, berries and powdered sugar (great, make-ahead dessert!)
• Mozzarella, pepperoni and basil (add topping and then bake under broiler for a few minutes to melt cheese)
• Thinly sliced gravlax, sour cream and dill (trust me, it’s delicious!)
• Sautéed kale, crispy bacon, and shaved Parmesan (I like green curly kale because it’s very mild)