A related but more general question. How can you judge when it's ok to make a recipe--either part of the way or all the way, ahead of time?

I like to spend time with my guests when doing a dinner party, and was wondering if there are any general guidelines regarding what sort of dishes can easily be made ahead of time, and which need to be finished right before serving?



sexyLAMBCHOPx January 20, 2012
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Rachel S. January 20, 2012
I agree, and there are also some great ways to easily define recipes that are good for making ahead. Soups and stews often taste much better a day or two after they are made, and can be gently reheated on the stove while you entertain. Salad can also usually be put in a bowl, refrigerated for a couple of hours, and then dressed right before serving. I usually look at the steps a recipe takes right before finishing; if there's a place where I can pause a recipe for a couple of hours while my guests arrive and I can easily finish it in a few minutes before it's time to eat, I'll make it. And I'd beware if a recipe calls for you to "serve immediately;" usually this means you have to be in the kitchen working right before you serve, or risk making the dish too far ahead of time for it to stay crispy/hot/etc.
Panfusine January 20, 2012
I generally categorize prep work (blanching almonds, toasting nuts/ dals) etc under the make ahead of time category.. Unless the recipe specifically says 'allow to rest for x hrs', (in which case the stovetop/oven cooking gets going ahead of time), I leave those to the end. I usually do not prep fresh produce too much before hand either. desserts etc which can be warmed up before serving, definitely finished first!
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