In the spring of my senior year of college, I invited 25 of my closest friends over for an intimate dinner party in the house I shared with 4 other girls. It’s one of my fondest hostess memories – we’re talking formal invitations, choice of entree and dessert, semi-formal dress, rent the place settings kind of affair.
It was the first real party I hosted and just the first of dozens where I would still be in my pajamas when the guests arrived.
Always believing I had superhuman abilities to make my little electric stove function like an 8-burner Aga, I would plan foods that alone would take 3 days to make. We’re talking major blueprinting and plans down to the minute of how I would execute it all – and I would never have enough time to actually enjoy the company.
Things have changed since then. Though you will still find me running around refilling platters and checking the oven, I may actually hold a meaningful conversation with you – and not in my jammies. I’ve learned much about choosing menus that look fancy but can be prepped way in advance or at a moment’s notice. It’s those skills that have allowed me to throw a 60-person baby shower, on the West Coast, cook in one home for 3 days, drive an hour to hold the party at another, armed off the plane with nothing but a timeline and recipes – and still have time to kick a soccer ball around with the kids.
Of course, there’s always room for the occasional blueprint…
Here’s a super quick, versatile ricotta to fill phyllo shells, mix into pasta, or pipe onto mini crackers (also a lifesaver) for a satisfying bite. It’s one of those “oh, don’t mind if I do” appetizers.
Makes 1 cup
1/4 lb fresh ricotta
5 basil leaves, rolled into a cigar and cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
Zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste
Line a strainer set over a bowl with cheesecloth. Fill with ricotta and leave in fridge overnight. Discard liquid.
Combine ricotta with basil, lemon, and sea salt. Chill for 1 hour. Use as needed – to pipe, fill a freezer Ziploc bag with the filling and cut the corner with scissors.