Putting together this week’s fast food five was challenging for one reason and one reason only: narrowing down what to say about my featured guest, Daniella. Daniella’s been a colleague of mine for more than a few years now. Back in 2013, we bonded over shared Italian backgrounds and a love of curating the perfect meal.
As our friendship has grown, so too has our recipe sharing – it’s not often either of us entertain or enjoy a meal out without running the item-by-item menu by
each other. She’s an amazing cook, and an amazing friend, but for the purposes of this blog, perhaps most importantly an amazing food prepper. In the three years I’ve worked with Daniella, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen her buy a lunch. When I was first designing this feature and deciding who should be included, Daniella was an obvious pick.
Daniella, colleague, friend, kitchen prep extraordinaire
On a scale of 1 to 5, how good are you in the kitchen? Tell me more.
I’m a 4/5. Every meal I eat comes out of my own kitchen so it’s only natural that my cooking skills have improved over the years. I grew up in a home where the kitchen was never off limits. At a very young age I was making fluffy pancakes from scratch served with a fresh pot of coffee for my parents in the morning.
Baking, cooking, or neither. Tell me why.
Both! I put my cooking skills to work everyday but I always have a batch of home made muffins in my freezer. Why? I have a make-from-scratch mentality, if I’m going to serve something I want to have made it myself.
What’s your go-to dish to impress others?
Hmm I don’t really have a go-to, every time I host I try something different. I would have to say that my proudest dish was the turkey dinner I prepared for Easter in 2015. I was very impressive and brought a tear to my grandmothers eye.
What are your top strategies for pulling off a dinner party?
- Preparation: have all of the dirty work done before the guests arrive, so that any cooking that needs to be done is effortless (you need to look like an expert)
- Have drinks and appetizers ready immediately: I always make sure my appetizers are ready and waiting to serve as soon as peckish guests arrive
- Set the table: having a beautifully set table is always an impressive thing
- Save the dishes for after your guests leave: nothing says party’s over like a pair of yellow rubber gloves and a sponge. Clear the table and stack the dirty dishes neatly in the kitchen but do not start your deep clean until the fun is officially over
Any tips for me as I try to improve my hosting/home cooking skills?
Put a bit of extra planning into your weekly menu so that you don’t have to cook every night. During these summer months it’s helpful to make large quantities of food that keeps in the fridge for a while. Lately I’ve been marinating my meat before putting it in the freezer so that it’s grill ready when I get home from work!