Saturday, March 12, 2011

Almost Vegetarian Entertaining: Simple and Sophisticated Recipes for Vegetarians, Nonvegetarians, and Everyone i n Between Reviews

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Almost Vegetarian Entertaining: Simple and Sophisticated Recipes for Vegetarians, Nonvegetarians, and Everyone i n Between

What made me think I could pull off a meal that's worth a detour to my place?

"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 everyone--host included!--will enjoy.

An Occasions chapter offers comprehensive menus for holidays, barbecues, Sunday suppers, book club meetings, 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.Almost Vegetarian Entertaining offers upbeat support for planning your next party or casual get-together. It includes recipes for the same kind of original cooking that Shaw showcased in her Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, but with an emphasis on dishes perfect for parties. This time, some of Shaw's pleasingly creative dishes are Jalapeno-Spiked Vegetables Stewed in Peanut Sauce, and an Apple Risotto with tangy cheddar cheese. As the title of Almost Vegetarian suggests, seafoods and poultry are used in about a third of the dishes--but the main emphasis is still on vegetarian cooking.

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Shaw's reassuring tone and relaxed advice on menu selection, setting the table, and coping with failed recipes will calm the nerves of any cook who views entertaining as a big deal. One way to simplify your work is by serving up a cheese tray. Following Shaw's advice, you might offer a combination of the great Spanish blue, Cabrales, tangy Vermont farmhouse cheddar, and a creamy, mild, fresh goat cheese.

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The recipes in Almost Vegetarian Entertaining will make any gathering memorable. The main course might be shellfish and barley served in scooped-out orange shells, or meatless chickpeas simmered with coconut and Indian spices. Add yeasty Chocolate Bread, and end the meal with Glace. This frozen combination of ricotta cheese and buttermilk flavored with rich chocolate or real vanilla is another Shaw original.

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You do need moderate cooking skills to enjoy this book. Shaw is informative about entertaining, and writes good, clear recipes, in which she assumes you have basic culinary techniques. --Dana Jacobi

List Price: $ 7.99

Price: $ 1.99

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