9 Dinner-Party Non-Rules From Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato
Lizzie (left) and Kathryn showing off their shakshuka (and their dope jewelry).
One of the biggest milestones for Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato this year: They are no longer roommates—for (actually!) the first time in their lives. After graduating from Duke, the twins moved to Manhattan where they honed their grown-up, life-sharing skills as they developed their so-distinct (and ever-evolving) jewelry and leather goods line. “When it was just Kathryn and me, we would joke that we existed on lattes and fried eggs, but then when people came over we did it up,” says Lizzie of their early dinner-partying adventures. Now, they have both decamped to Brooklyn…in apartments five blocks apart. Which means they still have many an opportunity to put their tag-team entertaining expertise to good use. “These days if we’re going to get together with friends, I would 99.9% of the time rather go through the effort of cooking in our own homes rather than going out to dinner,” Kathryn says. Once you dive into their tips, there’s a 100% chance you’ll feel the same way.
Lately, Lizzie’s been all about a tomato-and-egg shakshuka that’s as good for a dinner setting as a brunch thing.
1) Master Some One-Dish Recipes
Kathryn: We definitely have our go-to dishes, so even though we’ve gotten a little more creative, I love nothing more than a winter dinner party with a huge lasagna that easily feeds everybody.
Lizzie: Or shakshuka or a huge pot of chili. I think those kinds of dishes are easiest for people of our cooking skill level as well because we want to be able to enjoy and mingle. I’m not good at being in the kitchen while still having guests here—because inevitably something will go wrong.
2) Set the Table in Advance (And Don’t Stress About Everything Matching)
Kathryn: My mom always told us to set the table the night before because it makes it a lot easier, and a beautiful table makes a huge difference. We have some of the Brooklyn Slate boards that we love for cheeses during appetizers.
Lizzie: We have some cool vintage cocktail glasses that I don’t use every evening but will definitely use if people are coming over. Also, we use cloth napkins for dinner parties as opposed to paper—it’s so easy and it looks so much better. I have a huge array, like striped Auntie Oti ones, some of Caroline Hurley’s, and ones that I took from my mom and my grandmother that are more vintage-y. I’m not opposed to mixing and matching them.
Both Fortunatos have bar carts that keep all those cocktail fixings very accessible.
3) Whip Up a Fancy-Looking Cocktail
Kathryn: An aperol spritz is our go-to cocktail—it’s a little bit more summery, but you can drink it over the holidays, too. It’s two parts prosecco, one part aperol, a splash of club soda, and an orange slice on top. It’s like an adult Shirley Temple, so Lizzie and I are into that.
4) Know How to Impress with Apps
Kathryn: Recently, I made something that was super easy, but everyone was really impressed with it—it was just a fresh baguette (and everyone knows Lizzie and I love bread), cut up, toasted with a little bit of ricotta and then steamed asparagus on top with some salt and pepper. We also do prosciutto and melon, and obviously a beautiful charcuterie is always a win-win. We’re close enough to some really good grocery stores in Brooklyn like The Greene Grape and Mekelberg’s for meat and cheese.
Look at these lilies, looking all pretty without making any trouble.
5) Be Chill About Flowers
Lizzie: We’re lucky to have a friend, Taylor Patterson, who’s a florist, so oftentimes we solicit her to bring something. But Kathryn and I are also big fans of deli flowers. I always get one type of big flower—like lilies because they look so pretty and smell good. I’m not so good at arranging small things, so I’d rather just do the big ones and be done with it.
6) Let the Music Take Care of Itself
Kathryn: I like the “Girls: Marnie” playlist, too.
Their current go-to cookbook, Fresh & Easy, has enough aesthetic appeal to live full-time on a coffee table.
7) Have an On-Call Cookbook
Lizzie: We both got this incredible cookbook Fresh & Easy. The other night, I made lamb meatballs from it, and it tells you step-by-step how to do everything—it’s like a Mac computer manual, with a picture for each step. It’s amazing.
8) Understand the Power of a Good Dessert
Kathryn: My mom’s not a dessert person, but when we started throwing dinner parties, she told us, “The dessert’s the most important part of the dinner party because it’s the last thing everyone eats before they leave—it’s what they think about.” Lizzie and I love an affogato, which is vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso poured on top. It’s a little coffee and a little dessert at the same time.
Lizzie: If people are getting tired, it’s the little burst they need.
How fresh does a sprinkle of herbs make this thing? Feel free to apply to most any main course.
9) Know Your Roles
Lizzie: Kathryn does more of the chopping and prep work, and then I do the timing.
Kathryn: Lizzie’s really good at manning the stove, which is not my favorite part. Especially in a small, Brooklyn kitchen, it’s nice to be able to cook with someone who’s not your significant other so you can yell at them to move out of the way.