TIPS FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING?
1. Keep it fresh! If you don't have time to cook, use fruits and vegetables and focus on featuring the ingredients in their most natural state. Fruits and vegetables require little preparation and there are so many ways to leverage their natural shapes and colors to create a beautiful and delicious presentation. In summer, I love berries. They’re colorful and they go with everything, including cocktails (see below for my favorite summer cocktail recipe).
2. Flowers! Grab a bouquet on your way home for an easy but always chic way to decorate the table. I always prefer white flowers, especially in the summer. White peonies are my favorite; I know that spring has arrived when they’re in season. I often stop in New York’s flower market on my way home from the studio. There are moments when you feel like you’re in a garden, even on 28th street in the middle of Manhattan.
3. Candles! My favorite is Byredo's Cotton Poplin.
4. It’s always good to keep a few standards on hand for last-minute gatherings, or just in case extra guests arrive or the night goes longer than planned. I always try to have a couple of hard cheeses (last longer!), crackers, and a selection of great wines hidden in the kitchen. I love Murray’s on Bleeker Street for cheese and other staples. The selection and the service are amazing and the store has been in the neighborhood forever.
WHICH RECIPES DO YOU MOST SHARE WITH FRIENDS?
Ina Garten's Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies garnished with fleur de sel. It's always a hit!
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups old-fashioned oats, such as Quaker
¾ pound bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, chopped in chunks
¾ cup dried cranberries
Fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again.
Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Don’t overbeat it! With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you prefer cookies thin and crisp, bake them straight from the mixing bowl. If you prefer them chewy in the middle and crisp outside, chill the balls of dough.
One of my favorite summer cocktail recipes comes from the PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan, the barman wizard behind PDT in New York.
1/4 ounce pomegranate molasses
2 (1/4-inch) slices green bell pepper
2 ounces blanco tequila
3/4 ounce lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
Garnish: Extra strawberry slice
Add strawberries, bell pepper, and pomegranate molasses to a shaker and muddle until strawberry is broken down.
Add tequila and lime juice, then fill shaker 2/3 full with ice and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker begins to frost.
Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with extra strawberry slice and serve.