Cooking and Entertaining, at a Moment’s Notice

March 4, 2018 Updated: March 4, 2018    

When last-minute company shows up, what do you do?

In her new cookbook, “Chefs & Company” ($35), author Maria Isabella posed a question to chefs: “If you were to entertain last-minute guests at your own home, what would you prepare for them in one hour or less?”

As a result, 75 chefs weighed in, not only with their recipes, but also their playlist, wine pairings, tips for entertaining guests, and ingredients to keep on hand.

Chef Curtis Stone, of Maude restaurant in Beverly Hills, keeps Champagne on hand, as well as “incredible cheese and chocolate,” great olive oil, and homemade pickles. Chef Katie Button, of Cúrate and Nightbell in Asheville, North Carolina, advises enlisting your friends to help cook.

More than 180 recipes are included, and they’re as varied as the chefs themselves. Below are a few of the recipes, including Stone’s Charcoal-Grilled Rib Eye Steaks & Broccolini, Button’s Eton Mess With Gin-Soaked Blackberries, and Aarón Sánchez’s Chicken With Garlic Chipotle Love.

Charcoal-Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks and Broccolini

Serves 4

Curtis enjoys a great steak as much as anyone else—and for good reason. “This course is substantial and requires minimal prep,” he says. “I buy big, thick steaks to achieve that juicy, rosy, medium-rare doneness.” Be sure to buy the best quality you can afford. You’ll also appreciate knowing that the broccolini can marinate in the oil mixture for up to eight hours, covered and refrigerated—a really helpful, do-ahead trick when time is of the essence.

  • Two 1 1/2-pound dry-aged bone-in rib-eye steaks, about 2 inches thick, outer part of meat (spinalis) attached
  • Regular olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (crushed red pepper)
  • Two 1/2-pound bunches fresh broccolini, stalks trimmed

Prepare the grill for indirect high heat. If using a charcoal grill (preferred), fill a chimney starter with hardwood lump charcoal and ignite. When the coals are covered with white ash, dump them in an even layer on one half of the grill, leaving the other half of the grill empty. Place the grill grate in position. Heat the grill grate for 5 minutes. If using a gas grill, heat all the burners to high heat. Before grilling, turn half the burners off.

Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Lightly brush each steak with the olive oil and season liberally with the salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the unlit side of the grill and cover the grill. Cook, flipping over halfway through the cooking, for about 30 minutes, or until the centers of the steaks register 110 F on an instant-read thermometer.

Move the steaks directly over the lit coals. Cook, turning as needed, for about 5 minutes, or until both steaks have a charred crust and an internal temperature of 125 F to 130 F for medium-rare. Set the steaks aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the extra-virgin olive oil, thyme, garlic, and chili flakes to mix well. Add the broccolini and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Grill the broccolini on the direct heat, turning as needed, until tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Cut the meat from the bone and separate the eye of the rib-eye (the center piece of meat) from the spinalis (the outer piece of meat) by cutting through the fat that separates the two pieces. Carve each separate piece against the grain and serve with the broccolini.

Recipe by Curtis Stone, chef and owner of Maude (Beverly Hills) and Gwen (Hollywood). Reprinted from “Chefs & Company” by Maria Isabella. Published by Page Street Publishing Co.

Chicken With Garlic Chipotle Love and Sautéed Vegetables

(Courtesy of Page Street Publishing)

Serves 4

From this fun recipe title, you can easily tell that Aarón loves chipotles. “Chipotles have a ton of flavor,” he says, “and they have a great shelf life. They’re a popular staple in Latin cuisine—and in my home.” Pair them with flavorful chicken thighs and deep-roasted vegetables, and you’ve got yourself one awesome dish!

For the Garlic Chipotle Love

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Chicken

  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter

For the Sautéed Vegetables

  • 8 small red bliss or new potatoes, cut in half
  • 12 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
  • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) bias pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

To make the garlic chipotle love, heat the oven to 300 F. Pour the oil into a heavy, medium-size, ovenproof saucepan. Add the garlic. Cover the pot with foil, put it in the oven, and cook until the garlic turns a nutty brown and is really soft (think cream cheese), about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the garlic and oil cool to room temperature. Put the cooled garlic and oil in a food processor or blender. Add the chipotles and sauce, cilantro, lime zest, and salt. Purée until the mixture is very smooth, then set aside.

Heat the oven to 450 F.

To make the chicken, pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast iron or heavy ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging the thighs and rotating the pan to evenly distribute the heat, until the fat renders out and the skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spoon out and save about 1/4 cup of the rendered chicken fat before continuing. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then flip the chicken and brush the skin with 1/4 cup of the garlic chipotle love. Continue cooking until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and let rest.

While the chicken is resting, make a sauce for it. Set the same skillet on low heat. Add the sliced garlic clove and cook for about 1 minute, just to brown the garlic. Add the chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of the garlic chipotle love. Reduce the pan juices over medium heat until about 1/2 cup of the liquid remains, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring with a wooden spoon while it melts. Cook and stir the pan sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the sautéed vegetables, heat the reserved 1/4 cup of chicken fat in a separate pan on medium-high heat. Carefully add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, tossing them only a couple of times. Add the Brussels sprouts and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and sliced garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme sprigs and the butter. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme sprigs.

Arrange the vegetables on one side of each of 4 plates and place a portion of the chicken on the other side. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken portions and the rest onto the plates, then drizzle the lemon juice over the chicken and garnish with the cilantro.

Recipe by Aarón Sánchez, chef and partner of Johnny Sánchez (New Orleans and Baltimore), judge on Food Network’s Chopped and Chopped Junior. Reprinted from “Chefs & Company” by Maria Isabella. Published by Page Street Publishing Co.

Eton Mess With Gin-Soaked Blackberries

(Courtesy of Page Street Publishing)

Serves 4

“This is a truly amazing homemade dessert,” admits Katie. “It’s so impressive. The coconut meringue mixed in with the yogurt and gin-soaked berries is just delicious!”

For the Gin-Soaked Blackberries

  • 2 cups ripe fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup dry gin
  • 2 fresh tarragon sprigs, leaves only
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

For the Toasted Coconut Baked Meringues

  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted (page 457) and cooled

For the Yogurt Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) Greek yogurt, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Heavy pinch of salt

For the Optional Garnish

  • Fresh tarragon leaves
  • Thinly sliced basil leaves
  • Lemon zest

Heat the oven to 325 F.

To make the gin-soaked blackberries, cut the blackberries in half lengthwise. Place them in a medium-size bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and enough gin to almost cover the berries. Stir, folding lightly as to not crush the berries. Add the tarragon leaves and basil leaves. Fold together lightly. Let sit until ready to serve, gently tossing the mixture occasionally.

Prepare a sheet pan by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper.

To make the meringue, place the egg white and salt in a very clean stand mixer bowl. Using the whip attachment, start beating on low, gradually increasing the speed to high. When soft peaks form, reduce the speed to medium. Slowly add the sugar, a little at a time. Once all has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until the whites are stiff and glossy. Reduce the speed to medium-low and mix in the vanilla until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the toasted and cooled coconut by hand, taking care not to deflate the meringue.

Spread the meringue into a thin layer in the prepared sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

To make the yogurt whipped cream, place the heavy cream, powdered sugar, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt in the cleaned-out bowl of the stand mixer. First whisk lightly by hand just to combine, then, using the whip attachment of the stand mixer, whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high as the mixture thickens. Bring the whipped cream to stiff peaks, then remove the bowl to the refrigerator and chill the yogurt whipped cream until ready to serve.

To serve, drain the gin-soaked blackberries (save the drained liquid to make blackberry gin and tonics!). Setting half the berries aside, divide the remaining berries among 4 individual 6- to 8-ounce ramekins or serving bowls.

Next, break off about a third of the baked meringue and crumble it over the portions of berries. Cover each portion with yogurt whipped cream, using half of the cream. Break off another third of the meringue, crumble, and sprinkle over the cream. Then divide the remaining berries among the dishes. Add remaining baked meringue, crumbled, and top with the remaining yogurt whipped cream. If desired, garnish each dish with the tarragon, basil, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Katie Button, chef and owner of Cúrate and Nightbell (Asheville, N.C.). Reprinted from “Chefs & Company” by Maria Isabella. Published by Page Street Publishing Co.