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Cookbook Review: Great Menus

Jan 12, 2011 09:54PM ● By Anonymous

The book begins with a nice section of basic recipes, which are referred to in other recipes in the book. However, just because they’re basic recipes doesn’t mean that intermediate or advance cooks need to skip this section—there’s likely one or two recipes you don’t already have in your arsenal, such as Crème Anglaise or a Pate a Choux for cream puffs, éclairs, or profiteroles.

Photographer David Harp, who lives on the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, illustrates the book. His mouthwatering photographs grace plenty of pages in the book. However, as a visual person, I would enjoy seeing a few more photos, perhaps of the entire completed menu together. There are entire menus that don’t have a photograph of any of the dishes.

The variety of menus included is where the cookbook shines. There are 36 menus featuring more than 200 recipes, so you could throw one dinner party a month for years without repeating a single recipe. There’s a wide variety of cuisines and foods, as well, so you could serve a vegetarian menu or proper English dinner.

There are both full menus and individual recipes I look forward to trying out from this cookbook. Once the weather turns warmer, the Spring Barbeque menu sounds like a real treat: bacon-wrapped scallops, grilled steaks, Italian salsa verde, grilled vegetables, confetti slaw, and corn bread. The other thing I particularly enjoy is how Mote includes beverage selections with each menu, as choosing a proper cocktail or wine to go with a menu can be challenging. With the summer barbeque menu, she suggested margaritas and cabernet. Individual recipes that catch my eye include the Corn Cakes from the “Out of the South” menu and the Pork Shoulder Roast with Tomatillo Salsa from the “Mexican Fiesta” menu. Check out my blog, The Bent Fork, where I’ll be trying out one of these recipes and sharing my thoughts on how it turned out.

The glossy pages of Great Menus seems to be a great tool in your party-planning arsenal—just flip through and find the season and cuisine that catches your eye.