Fast and Fabulous Dinner Parties

Michele Braden, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $24.95 (301p) ISBN 978-0-02-514370-8
While California caterer and cooking teacher Braden ( Fast and Flashy Hors d'Oeuvres ) shares insights and strategies for organizing the often tense and sometimes tumultuous enterprise of giving a dinner party, following her recipes (which comprise the bulk of the book) may tilt even skilled cooks into a tizzy. Many recipes lack portion yields. In fact, one for cheese-stuffed mushrooms in grape leaves is utterly devoid of both the yield and the amounts of ingredients needed. The author also makes the questionable assumption that readers everywhere are familiar with all ingredients. Pickled ginger, grapeseed oil, pasilla peppers and black fungus are each listed as ingredients, with no mention of where to obtain them or what to use as substitutes. (An initial, explanatory ``cook's shelf'' section, identifying ingredients, is simply a grocery list with no definitions, preparation or storage advice.) And no one should take for granted that readers know how to clean mussels, or how to ``rehydrate'' dried chili peppers. Equally iffy is the notion that one might be able to choose a ``medium hot'' dried ancho chili peppersic as recommended. While Braden's recipes are festive, too many are unnecessarily complex. Why fuss with orzo bulgur risotto, when a well-prepared traditional risotto is a culinary joy? (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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