One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a a book called the Menu Cookbook: Kitchen-tested menus for foolproof dinner parties. This book is sheer genius. It’s published by the same people who put out my other favorite cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipes.
What I love about their cookbooks is that each recipe has been tested 8-36 times in order to find the perfect recipe that will never fail you. The instructions are so specific that it’s like each recipe is a cooking class. Some people would find that a little taxing — and it’s definitely not a “go-to” everyday-type cookbook — but I find it absolutely fascinating.
The Menu Cookbook provides 51 complete menus that totally take the guesswork out of entertaining and menu planning. Each menu includes a well-tested timeline so that dinner preparation is seamless and you know exactly what to prepare ahead and when to put each dish in the oven or on the stove so that everything comes out alright and on time. There are also notes on reducing cooking stress, changing things up a little for variety, and all sorts of helpful kitchen tips. The menus are arranged by season, which I thought was a fresh and creative approach, and there are recipes from all around the world.
Here’s a sample menu:
“Dressing Up Chicken”
Smoked Salmon with Herbed Creme Fraiche and Potato Chips
Lemony Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Easy Green Beans with Porcini Butter
Wild Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Dried Apricots
Looks great, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to hold more dinner parties in 2012! So many new recipes to try!