Brown Your Ingredients
It's amazing what character and depth a caramelized or toasted garnish adds to a dish. For the best results, try presenting unexpected combinations and contrasting flavors.
Add sweet, caramelized onions to crisp-tender green beans or sprinkle crunchy, candied nuts atop a fresh salad or pumpkin pie to impress your guests. Smoked sea salt sprinkled over toasted almonds make a fantastic addition to a cheese plate. To add a delightfully homespun complexity of flavor to nearly any dish, simply drizzle it with a bit of browned butter.
Make a Signature Cocktail (or Mocktail)
Making drinks for guests does not require a hassle on your part. Instead of feeling like you need to offer several elaborate drinks or a full bar, make one or two signature cocktails for your holiday meal. A few minutes before serving drinks, mix 3/4 cup pomegranate juice and 1 sliced orange in a large pitcher. Pour chilled sparkling wine into the fruit mixture for a holiday-worthy cocktail.
If your guest list includes children and those who don't imbibe, try making a unique non-alcoholic mocktail using pear nectar and sparkling water. For a classic vibe, make sangria with all the traditional ingredients, substituting cranberry juice for the red wine. The options are endless and will make you look like a fantastically imaginative host!
Switch Savory and Sweet Flavors
Homemade Whipped Cream
Create a Fantastic Finish
Experiment with coffee to make a deliciously show stopping finish to your meal. Time is at a premium when you're hosting a meal, but a pot of coffee takes less than five minutes to prepare and brew. Add Cognac and heavy cream to the brew, or mix black coffee with equal parts steamed milk for a Parisian take on the brew.
If your guest list is more conservative, place steaming cups of coffee on saucers, each set with a single cinnamon stick and a demitasse spoon coated in chocolate. Serve the coffee with a tray including cream, sugar, and a small pot of homemade whipped cream for a deluxe topping. Include a small basket of specialty tea bags and a pot of hot water on the table.