Friday, June 08, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

An Organized Kitchen

An Organized Kitchen for the Entertaining Cook

If you’re a cook who enjoys performing before an audience, all the kitchen’s a stage. Your goal? To create an illusion of effortlessness that belies a tightly organized support system behind the scenes.

The Strategies

Set a mood. Use glass-front cabinets to showcase what you love most, whether it’s your best china or an antique-pitcher or ceramic-cow collection.

Keep party gear handy. Create a place for platters and trays — with dividers to maintain order — so you don’t have to hunt for them. Give candles, place mats, and other table toppers a dedicated drawer. Use an index-card box to store recipes, past menus, friends’ food preferences, or wine labels. (Soak a bottle to remove the label, let it dry, paste it onto an index card, and jot down tasting notes.)

Set up a beverage station. A beverage trolley strategically parked out of the way keeps guests from gathering in the hot zone. If they don’t take the hint, slide a tray of appetizers between the tonic and the limes.

The Tools and Tactics

Folding table. A drinks table lets guests help themselves while the cook arranges appetizers.

Glass-front cabinets. Use these like vitrines in a china shop to display your favorite dishware or treasures you want to share.

Bowls of fruit. Clear counters as much as possible, then set out glossy apples and pears or fresh citrus in your prettiest bowls.

Recipe box. Jot notes about dinners past on index cards and keep them in a nice, retro, nondigital recipe box.

Tray Dividers in Chrome. With clips and screws to fix them in place, they are perfect.

Spring-Loaded Dividers. For drawers at least four inches deep.

Lacquer nesting boxes. These come in vibrant colors and add drama.

60-minute kitchen timer. A timer can be useful for pacing the evening. For example, when it rings, it’s time to warm the rolls.

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