Ask the Cook
Jorj Morgan is the Director of Lifestyle Content for BlueSuitMom.com. Her expertise in the culinary field incorporates 25 years of entertaining as well as owning a successful catering company. She is in the process of publishing her first cookbook, "At Home In The Kitchen" due in Spring 2001.
Q: My in-laws are coming to visit next week for several days. I'd like to prepare dinner while they are here but I know I'll be working until after 6 pm each evening. Is there any meal I can prepare ahead of time, which will still impress them?
A: Absolutely, and you get an "A+" for planning ahead. Preparation of the ingredients is as important as preparing the whole dish. Some dishes come together in just minutes if you plan ahead. Hear are a few suggestions:
Veggie lasagna, baked manicotti, and stewed ratatouille can be prepared several days in advance. The secret is to prepare the casserole dish, cover and freeze. Before you leave for work, pull out the dish and defrost in your refrigerator. Continue the dish, when you arrive home, by baking for the prescribed amount of cooking time. In this way the dish is "freshly prepared" and not reheated.
Clean several heads of different varieties of lettuce: iceberg, romaine, red leaf, etc. Place the combined lettuce leaves into several plastic bags. Pierce the bags with the tines of a fork to let the air circulate. After you arrive home, simply remove one of the bags for your fresh salad of "assorted greens".
This is one of those dishes that come together in minutes. Make the preparation even shorter by slicing all of the ingredients in advance and packaging them separately. When you begin the meal, all you have to do is toss prepared ingredients into your skillet.
More feasting challenges:
Making lumpless gravy
Grilling summer vegetables
Exciting lunch boxes