Restaurateur and "Hostess with the Mostest" Donatella Arpaia shares her restaurant-world
insights and entertaining expertise to help you elevate your next dinner party. She also shares
recipes sure to impress your guests.

Restaurateur and "Hostess with the Mostest" Donatella Arpaia shares her restaurant-world insights and entertaining expertise to help you elevate your next dinner party. She also shares recipes sure to impress your guests.

Donatella's Recipes

  • Baked Figs with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Baked Figs with
    Prosciutto and Gorgonzola
  • Time these so they come out of the oven a few minutes after guests
    arrive. Just assemble them ahead and put in the oven 10 minutes
    before you want to serve.

    Time these so they come out of the oven a few minutes after guests arrive. Just assemble them ahead and put in the oven 10 minutes before you want to serve.

    Serves 4 to 6

    INGREDIENTS
    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for coating the pan
    12 fresh black Mission figs
    6 ounces Gorgonzola
    6 slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise, trimmed of most excess fat
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    ¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar (at least 5 years)

    DIRECTIONS
    Preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Make a shallow "X" with a sharp knife into the body of
    each fig. Roll the gorgonzola into 12 small balls and gently press 1 into each fig. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around
    each fig 1½ times, covering the cheese and leaving the top of the fig exposed. Trim away the excess prosciutto.
    (If there are too many layers, the fig won't crisp up.) Arrange the figs, stem end up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with
    the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the prosciutto is crisp, about 15 minutes.

    DIRECTIONS
    Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Make a shallow "X" with a sharp knife into the body of each fig. Roll the gorgonzola into 12 small balls and gently press 1 into each fig. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each fig 1½ times, covering the cheese and leaving the top of the fig exposed. Trim away the excess prosciutto. (If there are too many layers, the fig won't crisp up.) Arrange the figs, stem end up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the prosciutto is crisp, about 15 minutes.

    Arrange on a platter and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.

    download the recipe here
  • Bagna Cauda
  • Everyone loves this dip—it's chic and understated. (And don't be afraid
    of anchovies; they mellow in the hot oil and butter and make the dish).
    Rather than piling the vegetables on a large platter, I arrange them in low
    cylindrical glass vases from the florist or beautiful little bowls.

    Everyone loves this dip—it's chic and understated. (And don't be afraid of anchovies; they mellow in the hot oil and butter and make the dish). Rather than piling the vegetables on a large platter, I arrange them in low cylindrical glass vases from the florist or beautiful little bowls.

    Serves 4 to 6

    INGREDIENTS
    1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
    6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon anchovy paste or 3 anchovy fillets
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3 pounds fresh vegetables (such as radishes,
    fennel chunks, endive spears and baby carrots)

    DIRECTIONS
    Melt the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

    Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the anchovy paste, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes
    (using a fork to mash the anchovy fillets, if using, into a paste). Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and cook a few
    minutes more. Pour into an earthenware pot of flameproof casserole. Set the pot over a butter warmer or tea candle to keep warm.

    DIRECTIONS
    Melt the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the anchovy paste, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes (using a fork to mash the anchovy fillets, if using, into a paste). Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and cook a few minutes more. Pour into an earthenware pot of flameproof casserole. Set the pot over a butter warmer or tea candle to keep warm.

    Arrange the vegetables in individual containers set on a tray around the bagna cauda and serve.

    download the recipe here
  • Autumn Squash Soup
  • This soup is intensely aromatic. Tying the spices up in the cheesecloth
    is the key to infusing it with a hint of clove and star anise. I like to serve
    the soup in small glasses; they become the perfect amuse for cocktail party guests.

    This soup is intensely aromatic. Tying the spices up in the cheesecloth is the key to infusing it with a hint of clove and star anise. I like to serve the soup in small glasses; they become the perfect amuse for cocktail party guests.

    Serves 4 to 6

    INGREDIENTS
    3 sprigs fresh thyme
    4 whole cloves
    1 star anise pod
    1 teaspoon multicolored peppercorns
    1 large butternut squash or 1¼ pounds frozen cubed squash
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    3 shallots, thinly sliced
    3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons orange blossom, clover, or lavender honey
    2-3 tablespoons hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

    DIRECTIONS
    Place the thyme, cloves, star anise, and peppercorns in the center of a piece of cheesecloth and tie into a pouch. Set aside.

    If starting with a whole squash, use a vegetable peeler to remove all of the skin (it's very thick so be sure to get it all off) and halve
    the squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut the squash into rough 1-inch chunks.

    If starting with a whole squash, use a vegetable peeler to remove all of the skin (it's very thick so be sure to get it all off) and halve the squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut the squash into rough 1-inch chunks.

    Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook about 2 minutes, until softened
    and fragrant. Add the squash, broth, salt, plenty of pepper, and the spice bag. Simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender,
    25 to 30 minutes for raw squash and 15 minutes for frozen.

    Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook about 2 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add the squash, broth, salt, plenty of pepper, and the spice bag. Simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender, 25 to 30 minutes for raw squash and 15 minutes for frozen.

    Remove the bag of spices and puree the soup until super smooth with an immersion blender or in a blender. To serve, ladle
    into bowls, drizzle with the honey, and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    Remove the bag of spices and puree the soup until super smooth with an immersion blender or in a blender. To serve, ladle into bowls, drizzle with the honey, and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    download the recipe here

Tips for Fabulous Entertaining

On presentation:

Food doesn't have to be fussy to look beautiful. You don't need chef knife skills, either. Simply think about
the plates or platters you're using, and get creative. Little surprises, like slate or marble for cheeses, can be fun.

Food doesn't have to be fussy to look beautiful. You don't need chef knife skills, either. Simply think about the plates or platters you're using, and get creative. Little surprises, like slate or marble for cheeses, can be fun.

On drinks:

I like to create a signature cocktail and have a tray ready as guests arrive. Match red and white wines to food and plan
for an after-dinner drink, too. Have fun with garnishes, and use beautiful glassware. People love those types of details.

I like to create a signature cocktail and have a tray ready as guests arrive. Match red and white wines to food and plan for an after-dinner drink, too. Have fun with garnishes, and use beautiful glassware. People love those types of details.

On ambiance:

Create a playlist that adds momentum to the evening: music that starts off dramatically, becomes low-key during dinner,
revs up for dessert, then winds down again as the evening draws to a close.

Create a playlist that adds momentum to the evening: music that starts off dramatically, becomes low-key during dinner, >revs up for dessert, then winds down again as the evening draws to a close.

On creating a memorable evening:

I always think of taking the formalities of the past and keeping what's good about them, but doing them in a fresh, modern way.
For example, have a seating arrangement with place cards, but serve the meal family-style where everyone helps themselves.

I always think of taking the formalities of the past and keeping what's good about them, but doing them in a fresh, modern way.
For example, have a seating arrangement with place cards, but serve the meal family-style where everyone helps themselves.

Donatella's Weekend Kitchen

Donatella designed the kitchen of her Connecticut weekend home—which is filled with Jenn-Air® appliances—with entertaining in mind.

"Whether the party is formal or casual, people always end up in the kitchen. That's why I wanted an open kitchen with room for everything and everyone. Guests can gather around, drink wine as I cook, and nibble on appetizers on the counters. I created the space for function as well as beauty."

"Whether the party is formal or casual, people always end up in the kitchen. That's why I wanted an open kitchen with room for everything and everyone. Guests can gather around, drink wine as I cook, and nibble on appetizers on the counters. I created the space for function as well as beauty."

Appliances in her kitchen

Trifecta™
Dishwasher
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Wall Oven get details
Pro-Style® Stainless
Rangetop
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Built-In
Refrigerator
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