Everyone’s biggest fear when throwing a dinner party is they’re gonna run out of food, which is a disaster because hungry people can get very cranky. You don’t want to rely too heavily on your main, but you need to supplement with filling, fresh sides that won’t break the bank. A salad is a natural choice for a dinner party, but it can have a lot of components, which means you’re running to the grocery store and buying a ton of different vegetables and spending a lot of money. Instead of doing all that, I like to focus on one ingredient and really make that ingredient sing. I love cherry tomatoes. They’re available all year round. They always taste good. Some people don’t like them, though, because they have this skin that tends to pop when you put it in your mouth— which some people find off-putting, particularly if you’re trying to have elegant dinner party conversation. So what I do is I peel them. This sounds terrible and tedious and not at all worth your time, but I promise you that it is. And it’s also very easy. All you need to do: Take a sharp knife and make a tiny X in the top of the tomato. We’re gonna do that to about a pound of cherry tomatoes. We’re just gonna gently put them in some boiling water. You can dump them in, but I kinda like to use the help of a spider just so they don’t splash. Hang out in there for about 8 seconds until you see the skin start to peel back. Then you’re just gonna fish ’em out. Put them in an ice bath to shock them real quick. Reach down into the cold water bath, fish a few of those out, and you’re just going to peel back the little skins. And they come off very easily. And do not throw these skins away. You can use them to make tomato salt. So you may be wondering: Why am I going through all this trouble of peeling tomatoes? The dressing sticks to the flesh of the tomato so much better than it sticks to the peel. Instead of just like a tomato got a few droplets of dressing on it, you get like a marinated, super tasty little morsel. Boom! Ah, that’s beautiful. So now that we’ve got a bowl of naked tomatoes, we’re gonna make them decent again by dressing them. You don’t need to do anything too crazy with your dressing. You just need a very simply vinaigrette because you don’t want anything that’s going to compete with the natural sweetness of the tomatoes too much. This is about a quarter cup of olive oil. Add that to a Mason jar. Two tablespoons of your favorite vinegar. I love sherry vinegar here. Some salt, a healthy pinch. A couple grinds of pepper. You can also use a little bit of Dijon mustard, which is a really nice emulsifier. And then you always, always just want a little bit of sweetness in a salad dressing. Table sugar works well. I like honey because it adds more depth. Then kinda crush some thyme leaves. And this is my favorite way to make salad dressing. There are all these weird bottles, like “emulsifying” bottles, these days. But you don’t need that, you just need a Mason jar. So now you just shake it up real good until it looks nice and emulsified. Drizzle. You can totally make this ahead of time. It only needs 30 minutes in the fridge, but you can actually make it earlier that morning. A couple hours, all that’s gonna happen is the flavors are gonna intensify and nobody’s gonna be mad about that. And if you have any extra dressing: Close up your Mason jar, stick it in the fridge, take it out when you need it again. All right, so now these are all nice and marinated, juicy, covered in dressing. We’re just gonna transfer them to a prettier bowl. We’re gonna add some really big gorgeous flakes of sea salt. I like Maldon but any flaky salt will do, and do this right before serving ’cause they’ll dissolve if they sit. And you are ready to serve this beautiful, deceptively simple and elegant salad. Now we’re gonna move on to our carb, which is one of my favorite parts of the meal. And we’re gonna be using potatoes. Which everyone loves—no one doesn’t like a potato. So we’re gonna be making a dish called pommes Anna, which, again, sounds fancy and French but is literally two ingredients: potatoes, butter. You’re just gonna use cheap, ol’ russets, which you can find anywhere. You’re gonna need two pounds, so that’s about 4 or 6 potatoes, depending on how big they are. And then you’re just gonna slice them real thin using a mandoline. You’ll notice I’m not using a guard. That’s dumb, you should use a guard. Don’t be like me. And then once they’re all sliced, we’re just gonna toss them into some water to make sure they don’t brown. And then you’re gonna take an oven-safe pan. You can use cast iron or you can use an oven-safe nonstick pan, which is gonna make your life a lot easier. Then you just take a stick of butter and rub it around real good. And if you’re like, “Whoa, it looks like a lot of butter!” Correct—it is a lot of butter. All right, so you’re gonna take your potatoes. Kind of pat them dry and then take the slices— just layer them, overlapping a little bit. Little pretty potato petals. And the thing that makes this dish seem fancy is literally just the presentation. This is just potatoes and butter but, you know, they’re not particularly high brow. And then you’re either going to take a pastry brush or just a spoon and drizzle the butter. And we’re going to use a whole stick of melted butter here. If you’re using salted butter, you don’t need to do anything else. This is unsalted because it’s what I had, so I’m just gonna hit it with some salt. All right, and then we just repeat again. Do our next layer. Keep it going. And yay, more butter. Guess what’s next? If you guessed more potatoes, you’re correct. You’re just gonna keep layering until you’re all the way to the top of the pan or you run out of potatoes, whichever comes first. All right, let’s just finish up with our last few potato bits. And then our final layer of butter. And then we’re just gonna cover this with foil and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes. We let that hang out in there for another 15 to 20 minutes. You just want some nice, golden-brown potatoes on top. And now, we’re gonna flip it over and turn it out. We’re gonna do this in one swift motion. (metal clanging) Boom! And as you can see, we now have a very fancy-looking, beautiful golden-brown potato cake to serve all our guests. Literally, there’s two very cheap ingredients. Makes a perfect side for all the hungry people coming to our dinner party.