Some helpful tips that will allow you to spend more time with your invited guests...
Thinking of cooking up a storm on New Year's Eve? Don't let all the fun and anticipation make you forget the tips from the pros (and some extra tips just for this occasion, see below) that make all the difference for the end result:
Plan and prepare
Start from the complexity of what you are about to serve. If you are going to serve three dishes and all of them require constant adjustment, as well as last-second cooking, it will be stressful. Think strategically and plan instead: If the main dish is complex you can solve a lot of the logistics by serving a simpler starter such as a soup that you have already prepared (and that only needs to be garnished with a few pretty prawns...) or a cold dish made from pre-cooked lobster.
Portion with care
Too much food on the plate can have the adverse effect on the appetite. Plan what bowls (or will it look nicer in glasses, perhaps?), plates and cutlery will give the right, festive impression.
Plan the amount
Depending upon whether you are going to serve one or more dishes, calculate like this per person:
200 grams of potatoes, pasta, rice or other starch. This equals 2 average potatoes or 100 milliliters cooked rice.
120 to 200 grams of meat.
125 -150 grams filleted fish or shellfish. Different fish/shellfish will result in different amounts of meat per weight – ask your fishmonger.
Keep it clean and tidy
Always avoid cooking in a messy kitchen. Having to change trash bag when the fish is about to be fried or having to wash kitchen tools that were used for the starter is going to have a negative impact on your cooking.
Mise en place
An excellent way to prepare is to create a ‘mise en place’, which is cuisine French for having everything in one place and close at hand:
Gather all the stuff you plan to use – measure, peel, chop, slice and place foodstuffs and ingredients in small, clean bowls so that they can be used directly while cooking.
Take out all tools, pots, pans, bowls, knives, mixers, etc, that will be used while cooking.
Engage a guest or two
A working place that gradually gets cluttered with unwashed dishes finally becomes a barrier obstructing all work in the kitchen. Try instead to clean up as you move along with the cooking. Enlist one pr two of the guests if you need be – many of them will relax enjoy socialising even more if they have something to do with their hands.
The end result will be a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate.
Get more tips – all year – from the head chef here.