Like most good things, my secret for satisfying unexpected dinner guests is simple. It's a glaze concocted of four ingredients that I always keep on hand: fresh ginger, garlic, olive oil and teriyaki sauce. Just 10 minutes in this spicy-sweet marinade and 20 minutes in the oven are enough to transform ordinary chicken into something special. As the bird roasts, its fat mellows the hot edge of the ginger while the sugar in the teriyaki sauce browns and crisps the skin.

Serve this tasty chicken with steamed sugar snap peas; now at their peak, these tender pods need no embellishment. A warm salad of watercress and couscous requires only boiling water, a bit of chopping and squeezing a lemon. And for dessert, top a luxurious strawberry mousse with garden-fresh mint.

STEPHANIE LYNESS is a food writer and recipe developer based in New York City. Her most recent book is Cooking with Steam (William Morrow).