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Crostini with Pesto and Ricotta Salata

Main Course

Fettucini with Ragu alla Bolognese


Little Apricot Cakes

Shopping List

Fruits and Vegetables
  • 4 cups of basil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small
  • 1 large stalk celery or 2 small
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 apricots
  • 1-1.5 pound chuck roast (ground beef can be used if you do not have a home grinder)
Milk, Eggs & Cheese
  • Eggs (fresh, organic farm eggs if possible)
  • 1 small box heavy cream
  • Whole milk (1/3 cup)
  • Unsalted butter
  • 1 medium size wedge ricotta salata
  • 1 medium size wedge parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 small wedge pecorino romano
  • 1 baguette for crostini
  • 1 baguette to serve with pasta
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Semolina flour
  • All purpose (unbleached) flour
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • White or red wine
  • Bay leaves
  • Baking powder
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Non stick cooking spray


One Month PriorTwo to Four Weeks PriorOne to Two Weeks PriorOne Day PriorParty Day
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
1 monthDetermine date and timeDetermine the date of your party and consider the time of arrival. For example, if you plan to have an outdoor party, you need to think about sun angles, heat and also cold. Plan a time for your party that doesn’t put your guests in rush hour forever to get to your location.
1 monthInvite GuestsThink about the conversation; who will like each other; ensure you have a great mix of people with different interests. Invite your guests early; everyone has busy lives and at least 2 weeks in advance will ensure your preferred guests are available. Have back-ups in your mind in case some guests are not free.
1 monthInvite Guests and share informationBe sure to let your guests know pertinent information, such as dress and who else is attending. If you are having a casual al fresco dinner, your guests should know that a summer dress will be appropriate. Conversely, if you are doing a formal dinner, your guests may need to obtain an item for their wardrobe.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
2 weeksRentals or new purchasesIf you need to rent any glasses, tables or purchase any new kitchen items for your party, do this now.
2 weeksYour attirePlan this now! If you want to buy a new dress or shoes, get this shopping trip out of the way.
2 weeksWine storeObtain your wine, cocktails or other spirits and non alcoholic drinks, such as tonics or mineral water. Chill white wine/champagne/beer now. Red wine can be slightly chilled the day of the party. Do you need ice? Make it or get it now if you have room in your freezer.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
1-2 weeksPrep table settingPlan what linens you intend to use. Wash them if needed and iron. Set aside.
1-2 weeksCrafts for table settingAre you creating any crafts for your table setting, such as cutting a cork to insert a placecard? This can be done now.
1.5 weeksShare menuIf your guests are also foodies, feel free to share the menu with them! This will get them excited about your party but be sure not to change the menu afterward.
1 weekGrocery store/Farmers market – trip 1Obtain all ingredients that you can purchase now. Leave as little as possible until the last moment, but a big shopping trip a week before will help you get a lot out of the way.
1 weekCreate timelineAssuming your dinner starts at 6:30pm, use this schedule (add 15 minutes for late arrivals):
6:30-7:30 Crostini and cocktails
7:30-8:15 Pasta
8:15-8:45 Insalata
8:45-9:30 Little apricot cakes
Adjust this schedule to fit to your start time.
During weekCooking 1 – Saturday or Sunday priorRagu Bolognese and pesto can be made up to 1 week in advance. If you are dividing them, make the ragu first and the pesto closer to the party.
Cooking 2 – Day before partyMake little apricot cakes and fresh pasta.
During weekConversation planningHave some conversations ready to start, such as asking about current events in your community or around the world. Stay away from hot button topics like religion or politics unless you know the people well and you know what will happen when the topics are raised.
Day before the partyStepNotes
Day priorSet tableSet placemats, napkins, plates, cutlery, glasses and even empty water pitchers on table. This will also help you get excited for your party when you see your beautiful table! Did you create a seating chart? If you did, create placecards and set them now.
Day priorLast minute shoppingThis should only be for last minute fresh ingredients, such as bread. If you are buying flowers, purchase these now, also.
Day priorFlower arrangementsThese can be arranged on your table and in your house now.
Day priorMusicSet up your playlist for the party. Make an inspiring and high energy one for yourself for prep, too!
Party DayStepNotes
MorningDessertIf you’ve decided to make your apricot cakes the day of the party, do this in the morning.
1:00-2:00Mise en PlaceDo ALL of your chopping and organize your ingredients according to courses. You can grate and slice cheese, cut baguette into crostini, etc.
2:30-3:00Set serving plattersSet up your serving platter for the crostini and little apricot cakes in the area that you plan to serve and arrange the look the way you like. Have cocktail or wine glasses ready.
3:00-5:00Get yourself readyHopefully, you have given yourself enough time to go for a run; soak in the tub; or do whatever makes you feel special.
5:00Re-warm RaguRe-warm the ragu on low heat with cover ajar.
5:30Cooking last minuteThis is the time to broil crostini but don’t place the pesto on top yet.
6:00CookingPut water to boil on stovetop for pasta. Take cream out for ragu Bolognese and let it sit at room temperature.
6:15Prepare cocktails/open wine for appetizersThis should be set up in the same area as your serving platters with napkins and utensils needed. Open wine bottles now and have cocktails ready.
6:20Finish crostiniTop each crostini with ricotta, pesto and crack fresh black pepper over the top.
6:25MusicTurn on playlist
ThroughoutTime yourselfUse a kitchen timer or some other mechanism to keep yourself on schedule during the courses. Set your timer according to the timetable below.
7:00-7:10TableQuietly excuse yourself while your guests enjoy the crostini. Pour wine serving with pasta course into glasses. Bring water pitcher to table and pour into glasses. If using any candles, light them now. Bring bread to the table, if serving with pasta.
7:10-7:30PastaYour water should be boiling, add the salt. Also, add the cream to the ragu. Have plates ready because fresh pasta only takes 2-3 minutes to cook. Taste for desired al dente and drain. Follow remaining instructions in recipe.
Call your guests to the table so that they are seated when you bring out the pasta. It must be served and eaten immediately.
7:30-8:15Pasta courseEnjoy!
8:00-8:15InsalataQuietly excuse yourself and toss together the salad. Bring it to the table with fresh plates and collect the pasta plates. If you are switching wine, bring the new wine to the table now.
8:15-8:45 Insalata courseEnjoy!
8:30Little apricot cakesAgain, quietly excuse yourself while collecting the salad plates. Either plate little apricot cakes on individual small plates or bring a large serving platter with them to the table and again, clean plates for your guests. If serving a port or an after dinner drink, bring this to the table now also.
8:45-9:30 Dessert courseEnjoy!