We partnered with Miele to show you how to plan and execute a Genius night in for six to eight friends. Follow along as we prepare a three-course menu on a Miele range and share tips for perfect ambiance. Here's to an evening that's a little less kitchen-heavy and a little more wine-and-dine. Here's part one.
Today: No-knead pizza dough and table settings.
Are you planning for a Saturday dinner party, and—yikes!—the week's already ended? Realization of the several-hour prep period staring you in the face can be jarring (it might even mean pouring a large glass of wine and inching slowly away from the kitchen).
But if you're following along on our three-day, three-course dinner party plan, put down the wine—just for a few minutes—and make the second recipe for your menu. It'll only take 10 minutes!
Yesterday, we talked about guests and ambiance, and cooking broccoli forever. Today, it's time to make Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough—a solid base for your party's second course. The dough has only four ingredients, coming together swiftly via wooden spoon or hands. There—you're done. Nothing else for 18 hours. Just leave it overnight until 60 to 90 minutes before you are ready to pop it into the oven.
If you're making a two-course menu, plan to top your dough tomorrow with the broccoli you made yesterday, crumbling feta or goat cheese on top—and you've got a hearty flatbread to begin with. If you have three courses in mind, top the pizza with a little mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil for a margherita pie. It might look like a blob now, but it'll end up looking like this:
From yesterday's post, you know who's coming, you know what time to expect arrivals, and you've made some music selections. Now it's time to decide on your tabletop.
Flowers are always a welcome focal point and can be a great conversation starter. Learn how to make your own arrangement, or if you want something that really reflects who you are, try one of these centerpieces.
As for serveware, are you in for a casual night? Try some eclectic serving bowls and a family-style layout. A little more upscale might not mean breaking out the fancy china, but think about using cloth napkins (or funky paper ones) and plating in the kitchen before serving.
If there are fresh faces, try putting place cards at each seat to politely nudge people to mingle and sit near someone new.
And if you want to go for something a little off the beaten path, use what you have on hand for something low-cost and unexpected—like plants, fruit, and even an outdoor planter.
Tomorrow, we'll show you the last recipe to round out dinner, and the finishing touches to go along with it.
Second photo by Mark Weinberg, last Natalie Barrett Shelton, others by James Ransom