So how does Jim manage to put together such successful dinner parties week after week in the 100-year-old cottage’s 6-foot galley kitchen? As he says in his “Dinner on the Porch” Cookbook, mise en place is the secret to successful, low stress entertaining. Mise en place, literally translated as “put in place,” is the practice of getting all ingredients measured and set out along with the kitchen tools and pans you need to prepare a dish before you start cooking. Some of the other tips he has for those wanting to give a successful but low stress dinner party:
- Don’t overdo the menu. Limiting the menu to an appetizer, main course, one or two side dishes, and dessert is plenty. Too many items start to overwhelm flavors as well as guests. Keep it simple and elegant.
- Finalize your menu a week or two in advance of your party and read every recipe several times before starting. This will ensure you are comfortable with the directions, understand the time needed for each dish, have all the required utensils and pans, and have plenty of time to grocery shop.
- Prepare as much as possible ahead of time, minimizing the last minute crunch on the afternoon of you dinner. If a dessert or sauce can be made a day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator, do it. This makes the afternoon of your dinner party much less hectic, limiting mistakes, and giving you some wiggle room if something goes wrong.
But Jim says the most important thing is for you to enjoy the party. After all, how can your guests enjoy dinner if you’re stressed-out and franticly trying to pull things together at the last minute?
Oh, there’s one more thing you should know. Interspersed with the recipes in Jim’s cookbook are delightful stories about some of his dinner guests. So, if you’re ever invited to one of Jim’s dinners on the porch, be careful what you do and say, it just might end-up in his next book.
For more information on Chef Jim Voltz, Dinner on the Porch cooking classes, and “Dinner on the Porch” cookbook, visit Jim’s website at: dinnerontheporch.com
To find out more about the area go to MyNorth.com search for Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Click here for Jim's recipe for Yogurt Cake.
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