"Did I really just invite people over for dinner? What made me think I could put together a meal that would (a) be delicious, (b) look attractive, and (c) leave my friends talking about what a talented host I am?"
Leave nothing to chance! Diana Shaw, author of cookbook classics such as Almost Vegetarian and The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, comes to the rescue of aspiring hosts everywhere, with delicious, eclectic, sure-fire recipes, foolproof directions, and the kind of advice and encouragement that will inspire both the novice and the veteran party-giver to issue invitations straightaway.
You'll find the basics right up front, such as how to set a table, choose a wine, buy and serve cheese, and recover gracefully from mistakes. Then come the recipes, more than 300, geared toward the way we want to eat today, laden with vegetables and bright, fresh flavors. Many of the recipes that call for chicken and fish can also be made without for optimal flexibility. Sensational contemporary dishes include Shrimp Cocktail with Mango Chutney; Risotto with Fennel, Saffron, and Tomato; Salmon Tartare with Orange; Grilled Vegetable Salad; Chicken with Apricots and Pine Nuts; Souffléed Sweet Potato Polenta; Artichokes in Lemon Sauce; Lavash; and Autumn and Winter Fruit Clafouti. Each recipe supplies preparation times, storage tips, and steps to do ahead, while menus and sidebars throughout help home cooks plan a meal that everyonehost included!will enjoy.
An Occasions chapter offers comprehensive menus for holidays, barbecues, Sunday suppers, book clubmeetings, and such events as having the love of your life or your in-laws over to dinner. Included are shopping schedules, basic etiquette tips, advice for preparing your party space, and serving suggestions.
Throughout the book Diana's witty, upbeat text leaves the reader entertained as well as educated. To read this book is to want to throw a party, and to cook from this book is to be a confident host. No one knows how to do it better than Diana and, soon, you.
|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||7.41(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.05(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Have a Party, Save the World
I don't know why Hollywood wastes so much time on aliens, disgruntled miscreants, and just plain bad guys plotting to destroy the civilized world when we're doing such a fine job of it our selves. Now that we shop, bank, and "chat" by machine, only massive system failure brings us face to face. What's more, thanks to fast food, in-store deli counters, and three-star take-out shops, cooking has become completely optional, and sit-down family meals largely do not occur. Some people don't mind this.
I hope you do.
And so I'm urging you ... quick! Before a din-ner party becomes eating microwaved popcorn while sending Sweet nothings into cyherspace--cook something! And invite someone to your table to share it with you.
The Triumph of the Home Cook, or Don't be Bullied by the Guys in Toques
If entertaining daunts you, it could be that now that cooking is no longer essential to every day life, it is considered a Big Deal. It doesn't help that chefs--hardworking, creative once-obscure individuals who made a nice meal for us once in a while--are now Grand Arbiters of Taste. You can't turn on the television without someone in an apron and baggy pants purporting to show you how to make white chocolate mousse but really convincing you it cannot be done.
The Cult of the Professional discourages confidence in our own instincts, inclinations, and common sense. So I was amused when the redoubtable restaurant critic for a major New York City newspaper praised a well-known chef for traveling to a village in Greece to observe how local housewives prepared food for their families. The implications are ironic; no doubt shewould not be as enthusiastic if he'd come to watch homemakers in your town or mine, although there may be no difference in our abil-ity to prepare good, honest meals.
Come Over to My Place!
So if you're intimidated by the Big Time per-fectionist pros, take heart and remember that you have people over for the best of most basic rea-sons: to show that you care about them, and to enjoy the unique, unparalleled pleasure of friend-ship and companionship.
Finally, you can shrug off any stress related to entertaining simply by defining a successful din-ner party as follows: Everyone is glad they came, and you are glad you had them.
Chickpeas with Onion, Spinach, and Raisins
SERVES 6 AS A SIDE DISH
Serve with Hummus, Lentil Soup with Pumpkin, and Pita Bread
These chickpeas, seasoned with cinnamon and raisins, are the closest thing to candy you can serve at supper. Spinach is there to lend credibility to the dish, which might otherwise seem inappropriately sweet at this point in the meal. If you serve it with any chicken or fish dish, it can be the entree for the vegetarians at your table.
Time to prepare (hands on): About 30 minutes
Time to cook: Included in the preparation time
Total time: About 30 minutes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium fresh or canned tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup raisins
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cinnamon, reduce the heat to medium-low, and sauté, stirring often, until the onion is soft and limp, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until they break down into a think sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, chickpeas, and raisins. Continue stirring until the spinach wilts and turns bright green; about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Make up to 3 days ahead.
* Seal in a tightly covered container and refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator 2 hours ahead and serve at room temperature. Or serve cold.