Tag bread pudding

Parties That Cook’s Classic Cookbook Club: The Essential New York Times Cookbook

I’m of the opinion that (good) things are better late, than never. In sticking to my beliefs, and ignoring the option of being on time, I bring you a PTC Cookbook Club of the past! Let’s just say I was saving it for a rainy day…

This last cookbook club featured The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century. Featured in Amazon’s Best of 2010 Book Section, this cookbook boasts recipes from many a noted chef, as well as renowned kitchens and New York Times writers. Once again, because of the sheer mass of this book and the great variety of recipes found within (over 1,000!), we came together for an assortment of dishes.

Creamy Farro and Chickpea Soup. A great start to the lunch, Carolyn’s soup was delicious! This Paula Wolfert recipe is super simple – a well-deserved break for Carolyn after her last Cookbook Club endeavor. There was definitely enough left over for the entire office to have lunch the next day (and we took advantage). For an online version of this recipe, go here!

Potato Salad with Shaved Ricotta Salata and Green Sauce. Rosie solved the mystery: the green sauce is basically a pesto. And just so we’re clear, Fetta makes a wonderful substitute for Ricotta. I was not the only one eager to revisit this dish in the fridge the next day – everyone loved it!

Sformata di Ricotta: Cassandra was a bit disappointed with the resulting tomato and ricotta pie/tart. When she selected this recipe, she was expecting bolder flavors and hoping for tastes of tomato in every bite. This lead to the conclusion that it would be good to note the seasonality of ingredients included in each recipe. Still, everyone enjoyed the dish, and I found myself heading back to the fridge for more tastes of the sformata! For an online version of this recipe, click here!

Leek and Shiitake Bread Pudding: Due to either lack of ingredients or cooking equipment, Traci did some major off-roading on this recipe. She must be the MacGyver of cooking, because, BOY did it pay off! I would be glad to find this dish on my table any day, though we all wondered how the original dish would compare. Another delicious bread pudding recipe can be found in our Side Dishes section!

Chicken Roasted with Sour Cream, Lemon Juice and Mango Chutney. Bibby tried her best to stick to the recipe, and despite some minor adaptations, she succeeded! The chicken had the perfect texture, and the flavor was great – not too bold to share the table with the variety of dishes we had. We couldn’t tell there was mayo in the recipe, though that’s probably for the best. This dish (which yields A LOT) makes excellent leftovers!

Orange-Braised Short Ribs with Fennel and Oregano. Crissy did an outstanding job on these short ribs! I was in love, and I doubt I was alone. The meat was perfectly tender, and the flavor was spot on! What more can I say?

Clove granite: An incredibly light frozen dessert with a unique flavor. If you’re expecting Ice Cream, leave now (at least you made it to dessert!), clove granite is more like a slushie. We got to try TWO versions because after Erin completed one (off-roading), she decided to stick to the recipe, and redo it! To me, the result of using light brown sugar is not all that different from dark brown sugar, though many preferred the off-roaded version!

I must say, Cassandra did a nice job in selecting this cookbook! It’s definitely one for the wish list. With so many recipes available, it’s not only hard to decide where to start, but it would be hard to finish! It’s amazing that Amanda Hesser tried them all in about two and a half years! The next cookbook on the menu: The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. Stay tuned!

Can We Still Have Fun in These Trying Economic Times? You Betcha! (wink)

Hosting a dinner party can be daunting, but entertaining shouldn’t instill the same trepidation you feel when thinking about your stock portfolio. Let’s take a step back and review these best practices for stress-free entertaining, as concocted by the experts here at Parties That Cook.

From a BBQ with the neighbors to formal holiday celebrations, our simple step-by-step party prep timeline never fails!

First Themes First

Decide on a theme. It will help you determine how many people and whom you should invite. A cocktail party means a larger guest list with people from various social circles. A themed dinner party calls for a more intimate guest list with people you know will get along. Here are some of our favorite international dinner party themes.

Prep Time: One Week
Develop a specific timeline at least one week out from your party’s date:

7 Days Before
Plan your menu. Choose dishes that have related origins, but don’t hesitate to add a new twist. Going with a Mexican theme? Update a classic crowd-pleaser– why not a Mexican chocolate bread pudding?

Choose three key pieces. Include one starch, one protein and one vegetable in your menu. These can be combined into a one-dish meal, like classic lasagna, or three separate components. If you start your meal with a salad, your main course should contain a starch and a cut of meat. Starting with a fresh bread crostini? Move your vegetable to accompany your meat.

5 Days Before
Create your shopping list. Doing this in advance allows you to focus on cooking on the day of the party. You can always add small items that you may have forgotten or alter the menu based on your guest list.

3 Days Before
Choose the music. Select a few CDs or build a playlist to correspond with your party’s theme. Listening to it a few times over the next few days will help get you in the party mindset.

2 Days Before
Research farmer’s markets. Local specialty shops or farmer’s markets are the best way to ensure that the freshest, highest-quality ingredients are in your meal. Using high-quality ingredients is an important part of creating a delicious meal.

Set the table. This lets you focus on cooking the day of the party. Remember that you eat with your eyes first, so serve your meal on white plates. This sets off the colors in the food and makes them the star of the table.

1 Day Before
Freshen up. Purchase fresh flowers and place them on your table and around your home. This will give the buds a day to blossom. If they haven’t bloomed completely by the day of your party, add warm water to the vase to encourage them to open up.

Day Of
Make final purchases. Pick up any ingredients you didn’t purchase in your first trip to the store.

Prepare for the party. No matter the theme, purchase two or three cheeses from a region that complements your menu and leave them out with a combination of crackers, almonds, grapes and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s an elegant appetizer that only requires plating before it’s ready to be served.

Consider the easiest way to serve your meal. If it’s a small group, plate everything before you bring it to the table. Larger groups are best served through a buffet or from family-style dishes on the tabletop.

Remember, the party planning process doesn’t have to be tedious! It can be just as fun as the evening’s events.