Southeast Asian–Style Spring Rolls with Shrimp: This is the first recipe I ever developed for Cook’s Illustrated, and it’s still one of my go-to appetizers. It’s nice and light, so it won’t spoil anyone’s appetite. Prep everything ahead of time, including the Peanut Dipping Sauce, and then let people help assemble the rolls.
Thai Grilled Cornish Game Hens with Chili Dipping Sauce (Gai Yang): Cornish hens are ideal for entertaining—each guest gets his or her own personal bird—and the high ratio of skin to meat means there is lots of opportunity for grilled flavor. Keep an instant-read thermometer in your pocket to guarantee that the birds are cooked to perfection.
Thai-Style Sticky Rice (Khao Niaw): The unique texture of this rice makes it fun to eat. What’s more, it’s great for soaking up the spicy dipping sauce that accompanies the hens.
Steamed Bok Choy: The somewhat fiery main dish calls for an ultrasimple side. Baby bok choy will look pretty on the plate if you can find it. Otherwise, choose another fresh-looking green vegetable at the market.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie: This pie, my all-time favorite, is clearly not Thai, but trust me: Your guests won’t care. If pie making isn’t your thing, simply set out a large platter of fresh sliced mango (choose small, yellow “Champagne” mangos) and pineapple.
Cocktail/Beverage: Ice-cold Thai beer and limeade, which is a snap to make if you have a citrus juicer. (We like the Dash Go Dual Citrus Juicer.) I like to send guests into my garden to pick fresh mint as a garnish.