Be the host with the most thanks to
Conveniently Delicious cookbook author and chef, Devin Connell. Here, she shares her top tips, menu and favorite appliances for cooking and entertaining at home.
Devin recommends coming up with loose theme. “
Not a theme party — but picking a direction that can help guide you through everything from how you serve (buffet, family style) to table settings and of course, the menu,” she says. “For example, if you think Northern Italy, be inspired by its ingredients and create a menu from there.”
Cooking For A Crowd
Devin’s top tip is to Prep, prep and prep! “There’s no such thing as an effortless meal,” she says. Devin makes ninety percent of her meal before the guests come over — par-cooking vegetables, reheating potatoes and having the salad and vinaigrette ready and in a bowl in the fridge. She recommends stews and soups and meat or fish that can be served at room temperature like a filet or salmon. Stay away from pastas unless it’s lasagna or risotto which has to be served last minute.
A reliable refrigerator like the
Built-in French Door Bottom Freezer 36” Professional can easily hold all of your food while staying to temperature (even after opening and closing the door throughout the day!). Equipped with Cool Air Flow technology, cool air is distributed to all parts of the fridge, keeping items perfectly chilled. Food stays fresher for longer, and tastes better.
“My theme for this menu was my family. I chose dishes that I love cooking on regular rotation for my kids, and that my mom and I have
The Appetizer: Corn Soup With Pepitas, Lime Crema, Avocado And Chili Oil (Serves 4)
10 corn on the cob, shucked
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup crema or greek yogurt
1/4 cup toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds
1 avocado, diced
1-2 Tbs chili oil or hot sauce
Use a large box grater to grate each ear of raw corn into a large dish. You should end up with about 2 1/3 cups grated corn.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the corn and saute for one minute. Add the stock, cream salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.
Place hot soup in a large ceramic or glass bowl. Allow to cool for half an hour before chilling overnight in the fridge.
Puree the soup until completely smooth using a blender.
Ladle soup evenly between 4 bowls. Stir the juice of 1 lime into the crema. Spoon 1 large tablespoon in the middle of each bowl. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs pepitas, followed by the diced avocado and a drizzle of chili oil or hot sauce.
PRO TIP: Devin swears by using white pepper when making this soup. “I usually detest white pepper but something about it paired with corn really brings out the incredible sweetness and flavors that black pepper cannot.”
Duel Fuel Freestanding Range is your sous chef in the kitchen. Thanks to its star-shaped Star® burner, it offers more flame for even heating, and precision simmering capabilities – perfect for soups and sauces!
The Main: Chicken With Baby Potatoes, Green Beans, Tomatoes and Tomatillo Salsa (Serves 4)
1 1/2 lbs tomatillos (roughly 12)
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
1 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos. Cut the tomatillos in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes to slightly char the skins.
Place the charred tomatillos, and their juices, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime and jalapeno in a blender.
Blend until finely chopped. Stir in the salt and set aside until ready to serve.
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, used separately
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, used separately
black pepper to taste
4 large skin-on chicken supremes
2 large handfuls green beans
2 large handfuls white beans (use all green beans if you can’t find white)
4 small vines of cherry tomatoes, or 2 cups cherry tomatoes off the vine
1lb baby potatoes, washed and cut in half
Preheat oven to 425F
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, cilantro, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt and pepper.
Place the chicken, skin-side-up on one side of a foil lined baking sheet, with the potatoes on the other half.
Drizzle the garlic-cilantro oil over the chicken and potatoes, rubbing over the skin and gently tossing with the potatoes.
Place in the oven for 35 minutes, until skin is golden brown and crispy and potatoes are fork tender.
While the chicken is cooking, place the green beans and tomatoes on another foil lined baking pan. Drizzle with the remaining quarter cup of olive oil and 1/2 tsp kosher salt.
Roast for 15 minutes in the same oven.
Spread a large spoonful of tomatillo salsa onto the bottom of each plate. Evenly divide the potatoes, beans and tomatoes among the four dishes and top each with a chicken breast.
PRO TIP: “For quick dinners — for a small family or a crowd — I prefer using chicken parts as opposed to the whole bird which can take at least an hour to cook,” says Devin. And cooking it sheet pan style allows more food to be cooked at the same time!
Thermador Professional Steam Convection Oven 30” is ideal for sheet pan dinners. The steam feature ensures that the chicken stays incredibly moist, but the skin still gets beautifully brown and crisp. For vegetables it retains food’s valuable vitamins and nutrients. For the passionate chef the oven also offers broil, true convection and steam and convection together, to accommodate all of your cooking needs.
The Dessert: Honey & Pistachio Nectarine Tart (Serves 4-6)
2 Tbsp flour, for dusting
One 7 oz square puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1 ½ Tbsp cornstarch
3-4 firm but ripe nectarines, sliced ½ thick
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tbsp demerara sugar
1-2 Tbsp liquid honey
¼ cup salted pistachios, roughly chopped
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Place a rack in the bottom third of your oven, preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly dust your countertop with flour and roll the pastry into a square that is 1/8 inch thick. Place onto the baking sheet. Dust the pastry with cornstarch. This will absorb any extra juices from the nectarines as they cook.
Lay the nectarine slices on the pastry in rows, leaving about 1 inch of pastry around the edge. Brush the exposed edge of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Place the tart in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is dark golden brown and the bottom is firm when you lift it with a spatula.
Remove the tart from the oven and place it directly on a wire rack so the air can circulate around it. When cooled slightly, drizzle with the honey and scatter with the pistachios. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
PRO TIP: “I think it’s very important to work quickly with pastry so the butter doesn’t melt. I’ve kept the assembly of this very simple to avoid over-handling the dough. I like cooking and baking with seasonal produce so for fall and winter I would substitute nectarines for apples and pears.”
From Conveniently Delicious: How to Cook and Eat with Spontaneity and Joy by Devin Connell. Reproduced by permission of Appetite by Random House
“The steam convection feature of the
Thermador Professional Steam Convection Oven 30” is amazing when it comes to pastry,” says Devin. “It allows the puff pastry to rise to its fullest but then also beautifully browns and caramelizes the fruit.” The oven’s rolling racks also make it easy to load and unload awkward sheet pans. Serious bakers will love the PROOF feature which provides the ideal environment to activate the yeast in the bread.