The inevitable summer dinner party has arrived. There is nothing you can do about it now. You are frantic because it is your turn to host it. This time, the responsibilities have landed upon you. You are starting to cry. Hey! Stop that crying! There is no crying in cooking! You have to suck it up. Step up to the plate. It is your turn to shine. Sure the task sounds daunting. Scary almost. Cooking an entire meal for a gathering and hosting it, can be a bit too much for any one person. In reality you might go crazy. Have no fear, I’m here to help. Who am I you might be asking? Well, I’m your cooking conscious of course. You won’t go crazy as long as I’m around. So the tears have stopped but now you have begun to sweat. Wipe that sweat off your face! Do not fret. Keep your chin up. Hold it up high. Higher. Higher. There you go. You can do this. Be confident. Have a stiff upper lip. You are a master in the kitchen. Oh you are not? Well, let us pretend you are. You are the master, and the kitchen is your domain. Say it with me, “I am the master, and the kitchen is my domain!” I do not think you meant it that time. Once more, with feeling. “I am the master, and the kitchen is my domain!” There you go. It’s easy. Keep all the other dinner parties—you have attended—in the back of your mind, and take note that they have all been deliciously entertaining. What is more, they have all been easy, flawless even. The other hosts and hostesses have blown it out of the water. They have knocked it out of the park. They have put together spectacular summer dinner parties. Parties that guests are still talking about. That is what we need. This is what you will do. We have to throw a party that people will talk about for weeks and weeks on end. Your party will come and go and your guests won’t be able to stop mentioning it. You too will shine. The Joneses have nothing on you.
The fire has been lit within you. The spark, ignited. Your confidence, higher. An evil smirk sprawls across your face. You contemplate what to serve as you start to go through all the recipes in your repertoire. No, those tired and stale recipes will not do here. You need a new one. A fresh recipe. For a spilt second you lose yourself in the idea of ice sculptures and chocolate fountains. Wanting so badly to impress. To impress your family. To impress your friends. To impress your neighbors. To impress those know-it-all Joneses. Thoughts of live bands, jugglers, tents, chandeliers, and ceiling acrobats enter your mind. You get lost in your own wild ideas and schemes. Caviar. Sundae bar. Seafood buffet. Silent auction. For a few minutes you lose consciousness. Your eyes glaze over and you enter a dream-like state where fancy, grandeur, and expensive float all around you. Suddenly you awaken. You come to. You open your eyes and realize that you are standing on top of your kitchen counter with your arms stretched out laughing uncontrollably. What has gotten into you? I have created a monster. I walk up and slap you. I slap you hard across the face. Your look registers a state of shock. A state of disbelief, when you realize where exactly it is you are standing and that the slap had to be done. I’m sorry, I just slapped you, but it had to be done.
Now listen up. You do not need fancy buffets and extravagant entertainment to throw a memorable dinner party. Sure people will be mesmerized with such things because they are nice, but in reality they will be just as impressed with simple and delicious food. You do not need to slave away for hours in the kitchen worrying about making individual meals or a wide variety of appetizers. Dinner parties should be stress-free. They should be fun. You are there to enjoy the party as well. You deserve it just as much as your guests do, if not more. What you have to do is make one easy dish. One that is packed with flavor and is set to impress. Often times people get overly ambitious and think they need to make something with exotic ingredients. They base a recipe’s excellence on the amount of ingredients listed. However the simple reality is that less is more. All you need are a few simple and well thought out ingredients to create a show stopping meal. For instance, take normal everyday chicken breasts, some good hearty crimini mushrooms, onions, garlic, sour cream, a few spices and herbs here and there, and while you are at it, a pound of healthy whole wheat egg noodles. Why you got yourself a meal fit for a king or queen (I’m an equal opportunist conscious, what can I say?). Wipe that look of confusion off of your face. What can you make with said ingredients? Well thank you for asking, my young grasshopper, you can make Chicken Stroganoff. “Chicken what now?” Well Chicken Stroganoff of course. Make this classic dish, reinvented, for the dinner party and the “ooohs” and “ahhhs” will just come rolling in. The Joneses will hate you for it. You’ll be a star. People will want to be you. I can see that look of intrigue in your eyes. How do you make Chicken Stroganoff you ask? Well let me show you how. Just put your trust in your ol’ cooking conscious here and I will teach you how to make such a dish.
We begin with our simple, yet incredibly delicious, ingredients.