This book illustrates three concepts: Cooking a full meal isn’t difficult or expensive, that we can be inventive with leftovers, and because of those first two, you can entertain people in your home more often. So there are full menus for meals, though you can be “inventive” and mix-and-match things however you can, like, or need. The recipes come from around the world, with lots of variety for today’s palate.
I love the cilantro and coconut chutney, which reminds me of one of my favorite “salsas” when I taught overseas. That chutney is served on a breakfast menu with scrambled eggs, flatbread, and a mango dish, which for leftovers, is repurposed into egg salad, little pizzas, and a mango chutney. Such a clever cookbook, with beautiful full-page photos and a lovely layout. The text is clear and engaging, and the recipes are as straightforward as they are revelatory.
Years ago, I learned that a key to easy and fun entertaining was to set up foods as a serve-yourself bar. It relieves you from the work of serving a formal dinner, or from spending the party passing out canapes, while helping create entertainment for your guests, too. Now, this book takes those lessons several steps further, and shows you how to offer a board of different foods you can piece together in minutes and, voila, instant party.
The book offers inspiring ideas for a variety of events: baby shower, girl’s night, weeknight dinner, dinner party starter, birthday, mother’s/father’s day, warm/cold weather, housewarming, bridal shower, game night, along with seasons and holidays around the year. Each of the dozen or so concepts for complete platters on each of those events includes ten or so ingredients/dishes, with a specific recipe, which serves as centerpiece or sauce/salsa/chutney to help tie everything together.
Several of the concepts are repeating, and show up — with different ingredients and dishes — for many of the events, such as: deviled egg platters, fondue spreads, vegetarian, Mediterranean platter, desserts, and more. It’s all not only super easy, but really clever and inventive, too. The book itself is a beauty with lovely and sumptuous photography alongside a clear and easy-to-follow layout. This would make a great book for anyone who likes to entertain (without a lot of work), including if that anyone is you!
Like you, I kind of envy the life of cooking bloggers. So much creativity and delicious food! Here’s an example of a wonderful blogger whose gone up a few levels to offer an awesome cookbook that I think anyone would love — but especially those with an appetite for flavor-filled foods with an Indian sense of spice and adventure. These are not all Indian dishes, by any means, but are modern American dishes rooted in the spices, herbs, and seasonings from South Asia. There are around 10 recipes in each chapter, which include appetizers, soups & salads, vegetable and grain dishes, seafoods, eggs, poultry, meat, desserts, and more.
Gentiles just have Thanksgiving and maybe a Sunday dinner for when they’re feeling old fashioned. Things are not so simple for Jewish cooks when it comes to cooking for special and holy days. This is a gorgeous (literally) little book that would be a great gift for any Jewish cook, or anyone who enjoys Jewish dishes. There are classic and updated recipes for weekly Shabbat meals, as well as for all the major holidays. Recipes come from Jewish communities across the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. There are also suggestions for combining the recipes into complete meals for the Jewish holidays. It is a beautifully photographed, well-written, and well-designed book.
A friend spent months planning for his daughter’s wedding. The food they served at the reception was top-notch. He noted later, though, that the favorite dish for him, and many guests, appeared to be the new mother-in-law’s go-to party dish, a (seemingly humble, yet really delicious) cheese ball. We had to laugh at how what we’d though of as a Sixties cocktail-circuit inexpensive appetizer kind of upstaged the “fancier” dishes served.
So, lesson learned: Cheese balls are awesomely delicious — and delicious wins over fancy, anytime. They make an easy-to-serve-yourself addition to any party. Since we’ve been entertaining more often, formally or not, I’m really happy with this great book. It features old classics, often updated, and cleverly invented cheeseb balls for today’s palette. Chapters include crowd-pleasers, afternoon snacks, fresh flavors, holiday statements, and evening affairs. My family likes the spinach-artichoke, the muffuletta, the jalapeno popper, and the roasted garlic. They’re great for movie night, or any time, too. The book would be a great gift, too — at a party or otherwise.
Over the years, we’ve known many, many young couples getting married. We are happy for them and hope to offer them a gift that will bring them happiness now and, hopefully, memories in years to come. So we’ve ended up offering them variations of the same gift: A cooking pan, a brownie mix, and a cookbook that offers recipes newlyweds can use day in, day out, with maybe a few fancier recipes for special meals or when they need to entertain (like, gasp, their mother-in-laws). And here it is: the Platonic Ideal of Newlywed Cookbook Gifts(TM).
The book itself is well-bound for years of use, filled with truly lovely photos of the clear and easy to follow recipes. There are classics and updated versions of recipes, like the Chipotle Carnitas Tacos that are a go-to around our house now, on Taco Tuesday or anytime. “Mom’s Mac and Cheese” is a family favorite, too. There are recipes from breakfasts to dessert, and many feature “fancy” ingredients that are easily incorporated to make a dish memorable. I think this will be a memorable gift for any young couple starting out in life together.