The coziness and comfort of a Sunday at home is the perfect antidote to a stressful week. Being home is great, but sharing a casual lunch with friends is even better. The key to keeping it relaxed is to choose a low-labor menu. Weekend cooking and entertaining is all about speediness and ease along with a huge dose of practicality.
I don’t mind spending precious weekend time over the stove, but only if it will make my life easier later in the week, meaning I can enjoy two meals from one cooking session. I often use leftovers of those grand Sunday lunches to last me a few days during the week. If I am cooking, I must as well make the best of it and double recipes that can freeze well or last for a few days in the refrigerator.
Inviting friends for Sunday lunch forces me to cook (something I adore to do in any case) and makes me have a mental plan for that day and a few ideas of meals and recipes of the following ones.
Sunday lunches can be as sophisticated and elegant as you like, or as casual as you want to be. I like to incorporate a bit of both: the buffet is arrayed on the kitchen table and guests sit in the living room by the fire with plates on their laps. The entertainment is the mesmerizing fire. But as always, I have everything ready before friends arrive: Fire lit, bar organized, table set, buffet prepared…
I adore winter lunches that can feed ten or twelve people. Especially on days like New Year’s, the day after Thanksgiving or Boxing Day when I never know how many people will trickle in for a warm meal. The comfort of sitting by the fire with a plate of delicious food on my lap, surrounded by family and friends is to me what the art of entertaining is meant to be.
Use large plates and large napkins when serving food buffet-style. This is not because you want to encouraging piling on the food but to avoid spillage; the larger the plate the less chance of a ruined rug. Large napkins cover your lap and part of your knees— always a good idea when sitting on a low chair or the floor. At home I do serve red wine though I know that most people don’t. My philosophy: It's Sunday, a day to relax and indulge. Place decanters filled with white and red wine and pitchers with Bullshots or Bloody Marys on the buffet table or sideboard to make it self-service for your guests. The rule at home is that I serve the first drink, after that you are on your own!
On those spur-of-the-moment weekend extravaganzas, enlist the help of a single male friend. I know they are hard to come by but they are eternally grateful for a home cooked meal and will do almost anything to get invited back. Asking for their help in setting up the bar, lighting the fire and mixing drinks is a brilliant way to get it all done.
Green Salad with Roasted Tomatoes & Blue Cheese
Soufflé Mashed Potatoes
Pear Tart with Cream