Your midweek holiday party

How to host friends without the fuss

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The plan

3 days ahead:
• Shop for food.
• Make roasted red pepper-tomato soup.

2 days ahead:
• Make white bean dip.
• Cook onions for pear and blue-cheese pastry triangles, then cover and chill.

1 day ahead:
• Set the table. Set up the bar. Chill wines.

Party day:
• Prepare and bake pear and blue-cheese pastry triangles.
• Make the rosemary olive oil for bean dip.
• Reheat roasted red pepper-tomato soup.
• Garnish dishes and serve.

Party short-cuts:

• Use the white bean dip as the foundation for an abundant tray of store-bought snacks, including hummus and baba ghanoush, olive tapenade, carrot sticks, and other vegetables. Serve with breadsticks, pita chips, and a thinly sliced baguette.

• Hosting a bigger crowd? Buy extra puff pastry and get creative with toppings. Try sliced mushrooms and fontina cheese, or thinly sliced cooked red potatoes, thyme, and sea salt.

• If your guests tend to congregate in the kitchen, leave the roasted red pepper soup over a low flame on the stove and set cups, ladle, and toppings nearby (that's one fewer dish to wash).

• Forget about homemade desserts. Serve a store-bought tart or holiday cake, or encourage guests to bring cookies.

 

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