cover image At Home Caf: Gatherings for Family and Friends

At Home Caf: Gatherings for Family and Friends

Helen Puckett DeFrance, Carol Puckett. Rodale, $29.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-59486-843-6

In this follow-up to her first book, At Home Café , DeFrance encourages home chefs to make cooking “not a chore, but an opportunity to spend time with friends and family” and provides a slate of menus suitable for a variety of occasions. Culinary themes include Deep South Brunch, Teen Taco Bar, and Shrimp under the Oak Trees. DeFrance is a seasoned cooking teacher—the Camp Blackberry cooking program in Knoxville, Tenn., and Viking Cooking Schools nationwide are in her regular rotation. In various “Helping Hands” sidebars, she makes suggestions for both seasoned cooks (“Peeling shrimp... requires some skill”) and kids (“Pulling yellow or damaged leaves off Brussels sprouts is a task for little hands”). Recipes range from familiar favorites like Warm Crab Dip and Lemon Squares to more creative fare, such as Cognac-Scented Chicken Liver Pâté. Writing with her sister Carol Puckett, DeFrance has a friendly, warm voice, offering personal anecdotes and enthusiastic commentary about the recipes. Similarly, the last several pages of the book offer tips for entertaining, inspired by her own mother’s flair for presentation. (Oct.)