I tend to go overboard sometimes with food. The horror of hungry houseguests runs in my family. At times I tell myself to literally chill out and stop wasting time and energy on cooking for guest who can only stay for a drink. This past March I attended the Black Tie Gala for the organization I used to work for. It was the first year that I wasn’t knee deep in planning. I was supposed to be relaxed but I still had an itch to do something. I had ten friends over before the Gala for a champagne toast to get it out of my system. Feeling that itch, I was inspired by Ina Garten’s new book Back to Basics and served salted pistachios, peppered salami and cucumbers and savory tomato basil palmiers. Everything was so easy (even the palmiers – which I was worried about making for the first time) and it made me feel good to make something special for my guests. I’m not the best at compromise but I think I may have done it this time.