When every minute counts

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In the Dining Room
In the Kitchen

You get home from work at six and your guests are due at eight. Here are some time-saving tips that can help you enjoy your own party.

Since the hours just before dinner will be devoted largely to cooking, take care of every else the previous nigh.

1. Set the table. This will give you a chance to refill salt and pepper shakers, iron napkins and clean silver.

2. Put out what you'll need for serving the appetizer and main course, including bowls, platters, pitchers, and utensils.

3/ Set up a dessert tray with plates, cut and saucers, utensils, napkins, and a coffee or tea service.

4. Decide where you want your guests to sit, and set out place cards.

5. Create a simple centerpiece. Group several candlesticks in a variety of heights and finishes. Or place fresh herbs and ivy in a silver bowl. If you decide to get flowers at the last minute, buy one type so that arranging them is easy.

1. To chop soft-stemmed herbs like cilantro and parsley: don't bother removing the leaves from the stems.

2. To reduce liquids: use a large skillet for maximum surface area.

3. To sear or saute large amounts: use two skillets simultaneously inside of working in batches in a single skillet.

4. To minimize chopping: buy ingredients like walnuts that are already chopped. For chocolate that needs to be melted, use chocolate chips.

5. To mash potatoes: choose large potatoes rather than medium-size ones that take more time to peel. Cut potatoes to speed cooking.

Food and Wine

January 1995

Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 12-26-95

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