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Perfect Recipes for Having People Over Hardcover – September 14, 2005

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Product Description
Having your friends over is no big deal when you have the perfect recipe, one that's not only foolproof but simple and that fits into your hectic schedule. In Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, Pam Anderson shares nearly 200 perfectly convenient dishes, including:

* Lacy Cheddar Crisps--An irresistible one-ingredient hors d'oeuvre, ready in 10 minutes.
* Oven-Barbecued Pork--Slow-cooked for 10 to 12 hours. You literally make this one in your sleep.
* Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese -- When kids are coming, why not serve the best version of their favorite?
* Shish Kebabs--Satisfy every guest, from vegetarians to carnivores, in the same meal. Six exciting flavoring pastes offer all the variety you need.
* Easy Baked Risotto--Elegant and effortless, with many sumptuous variations, including seafood and vegetarian. You socialize while it cooks.
* Orange-Glazed Asparagus--One of the most versatile side dishes imaginable. Ready in 8 relaxed minutes.
* Molten Chocolate Cakes--15 minutes to oozy decadence.

Every recipe comes with helpful suggestions on what to serve with the dish, how to vary it, how to take shortcuts, and how to make it ahead.

From Perfect Recipes for Having People Over: Easy Baked Risotto

Risotto is perfect for an elegant dinner party, but most people don't want to spend nearly an hour stirring it. Unless you drag someone into the kitchen to keep you company, you'll miss a good chunk of your party. But placing a sheet of heavy-duty foil directly over the risotto's surface and double-sealing the pot with the foil and a lid reduce the cooking time and eliminate most of the stirring. Although you could halve the recipe and decrease the cooking time by 5 to 7 minutes, I wouldn't: the Risotto Cake recipe (to follow) is exceptional for leftovers.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or rendered bacon fat if using bacon
  • 1 small onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, bacon, or pancetta or 4 ounces ham, sliced and cut into small dice (optional)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) frozen green peas and/or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Flavoring Ingredients (see next list; use a total of 1 pound; optional)

Flavoring Ingredients
For sauteed flavoring ingredients, choose 8 ounces (heaping 2 cups) of one of the following:

  • Winter squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Fennel, halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Cabbage, thinly sliced
Flavoring ingredients that are added during the last 5 minutes of cooking:
  • Asparagus spears, tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted on a baking sheet in a 450-degree oven for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch lengths.
  • Baby spinach or arugula
  • Bay scallops
  • Medium shrimp, peeled
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare flavoring ingredients, if using (for sauteed flavoring ingredients, you will cook them in step 2).

2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or large ovenproof (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat.Add onion, prosciutto, if using, and any ingredients to be sautéed and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice.

Risotto can be made to this point up to 2 hours in advance and covered.

3. Add wine and simmer until evaporated. Add chicken broth and 2 cups water. Cover pot with a sheet of heavy-duty foil, pressing down so that it rests on broth, crimp foil around edges of pot, and cover pot with lid for a tighter seal. Set pot in oven and cook for 25 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and carefully remove lid and foil. Set pot on low heat. If you've chosen flavoring ingredients that are to be added at the end of cooking, stir them in now. Cook, stirring, until rice is cooked but still a little chewy at center, liquid is creamy, and flavors have blended, about 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and peas and parsley (if using) and serve.

When Should I Serve It?
As a first or main course at a dinner party in spring, winter, or fall.
As a simple supper with family and friends

Any Shortcuts?
Stick with flavoring ingredients that need little or no preparation—sliced mushrooms, prewashed baby spinach, scallops, or peeled shrimp, for example.

How Can I Vary It?
With this formula, you can create whatever flavor risotto you like.
Suggested Combinations:
Risotto with scallops, spinach, and bacon
Risotto with fennel and scallops
Risotto with shrimp, asparagus, and prosciutto
Risotto with winter squash and prosciutto
Risotto with asparagus and ham
Risotto with cabbage and bacon
Risotto with mushrooms and cabbage

What About Leftovers?
Just add a little chicken broth to loosen the rice and heat slowly, stirring occasionally, on the stovetop.
If you have 2 cups leftover risotto, make Risotto Cakes (see below).


  • 2 cups leftover risotto, chop any large flavoring ingredients into small chunks
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
1. Stir 1 beaten egg into the 2 cups leftover cold risotto.

2. Measure 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs into a pie plate. Drop 1/4 cup risotto into crumbs, covering risotto mound with crumbs and twirling it to coat completely. Pick up risotto mound and form it into a patty, then drop it back into crumbs to coat again. Transfer to a plate.

3. Repeat to make 8 cakes. Heat a generous 2 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot. Add cakes (8 fit perfectly) and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Serve on or alongside a bed of vinaigrette-tossed baby greens sprinkled with crumbled goat or feta cheese.

From Publishers Weekly

Anderson revives the art of entertaining in this unthreatening collection of simple but elegant dishes, following her successful The Perfect Recipe (which won a Julia Child Award), Cooksmart and How to Cook Without a Book. She focuses on moderately easy, stick-to-your-ribs, crowd-pleasing dishes that can be made in bulk (for up to 20 people). Categorizing her recipes by occasion, she offers dishes like Buttermilk-Honey Fried Chicken Fingers, or Sausage and White Bean Soup for an informal "Kitchen Gathering," and Easy Baked Risotto, and Butter-Roasted Lobster Tails for ooh-la-la blowouts "In the Dining Room." For an "Outdoor Affair," Shish Kebabs and Sear-Ahead Steaks or Salmon do nicely, while "Breakfast for Company" consists of dishes like Orange Cream Cheese Strata with Cranberries and Walnuts. Recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, side dishes, breads, desserts and even drinks fill in the gaps, while Anderson helpfully answers anticipated questions for each recipe: When should I serve it? Any shortcuts? How far ahead can I make it? What should I serve with it? What about leftovers? Throughout, Anderson's easygoing tone and reassuring attitude will relax any nerve-jangled host or hostess. This is not a book for master chefs, certainly, but it delivers solid dishes sure to impress the average dinner party crowd. Photos. (Sept. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (September 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618329722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618329724
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Important Information

Example Ingredients

Example Directions

More About the Author

Pam Anderson considers herself Every Cook. A New York Times bestselling author, she has been cooking nearly everyday for over 30 years. With six published books and her seventh out this fall, she brings satisfying recipes and sage advice to both novice and veteran cooks. Whether you're on a quest for the perfect brownie, wanting to get dinner on the table effortlessly, hoping to entertain more simply, attempting to shed pounds permanently, or looking to eat delicious meatless, Pam can help. She is AARP's official food expert and former Executive Editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine. Her food articles have appeared in many food magazines. She teaches cooking classes across the country and appears frequently on TV and radio.

See what Pam's up to on her blog:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on November 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Anderson's brief introduction emphasizes organization and planning, and the book's design is elegant - lots of full-page color pictures of finished dishes - and practical, with a tip guide at the bottom of each recipe.

She starts with the main course, grouped by occasion, from kitchen gatherings to barbecues, sit-down dinners and breakfast. "All the Rest" follows, from appetizers through dessert, including drinks and breads.

Anderson often offers a master recipe, which can be transformed with simple additions - quesadillas, for instance, or shish kebabs, which both come with a page of variations in spices and main ingredients. This is particularly true for the soups, like the Creamy Vegetable, which comes with 10 separate recipes and ideas for "hundreds" of variations.

Each recipe concludes with suggestions for when to serve and what to serve it with, variations, shortcuts, advance preparations and, my personal favorite, ideas for the leftovers.

For the dining room there's an Easy Baked Risotto which does away with much of the stirring and Beef Tenderloin with cracked pepper and a red wine pan sauce; more casual meals feature Oven-Barbecued Pork for sandwiches or carnitas and Lasagna made with both white and red sauce and no-boil noodles. Breakfast might be a savory baked strata, assembled the night before.

Side dishes are bright and imaginative, like Smoked Salmon and Watercress Salad with Red Onion-Caper Vinaigrette or Orange-Glazed Asparagus; desserts are simple and many are homey, like the Tender Yellow Cake and Five Variations. Drinks come by the pitcher.

There's nothing difficult here and there's plenty of range to suit every taste and every occasion. Anderson's fans ("The Perfect Recipe," "How to Cook Without a Book") will snap it up and anyone who entertains should find it a useful pleasure.

- Portsmouth Herald
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Basbenee on December 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I love this book. I found it while browsing Borders and picked it up out of curiosity. The design is beautiful, with lovely graphics and photos. The recipes are divided in categories - grilled items, appetizers, main courses, veggie dishes, desserts, etc. And Anderson offers variations with each, so chicken soup, for example, can be tweaked to have southwestern flair, or you can make white or red chili, as another example. There's a recipe for baked risotto (great if you've ever made it the regular way, where you have to stand and stir forever). The book features traditional stuff, traditional stuff with a twist and some new(er) ideas, too. There are some drink recipes as well (pitcher of mojitos, other fun stuff), and Anderson suggests menu groupings and what would complement various menu items, too (white wine with this, etc). Fun for anybody who likes to entertain or just who likes to cook.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Mccarthy on November 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Great cookbook for those who entertain alot or just once in awhile. Gives suggestions on what to serve with with each item. I have made several recipes and have received raved reviews.

Great pictures of most of the food items. I very good cookbook that I was glad I added to my collection.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Voss on July 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the book I turn to for help in what to fix for what occasion. At the end of every recipe is a chart answering When to Fix It, How Far Ahead Can I Make This?

Shortcuts? What to Serve With It? Sides? Desserts, etc? Oh, m' gosh. I use this book more than any other I have collected. If you're a serious cook, buy this book. You won't regret it. Every recipe has been excellent with Anderson's well-worded directions and suggestions.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Pam on May 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love to cook for gatherings and thought this book would be interesting. It does give helpful suggestions, as previously mentioned by other reviewers, for types of gatherings, side dishes, etc. There just seemed to be something lacking for me. It's not the fact that every recipe does NOT include a picture. I own more cookbooks than my local library and not all of them have pictures. I just didn't seem to be overly impressed with the recipes in this book. For instance, the lasagna recipe, there's nothing impressive about the contents and I make a far better five cheese lasagna. Most of these recipes one could find on a free internet recipe site. Perhaps this book is better suited for a complete novice in terms of cooking and entertaining.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When entertaining, it's important to have a cache of tried-and-tested dishes which are simple yet foolproof: Pam Anderson shares nearly 200 convenient dishes in Perfect Recipes For Having People Over, filled with dishes which lend to both make-ahead preparation and crowd-pleasers. From Easy Savory Strata to Perfect Roast Chicken with Several Sauces and Quesadillas for a Crowd, this is a highly recommended pick for any regular hostess.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Recipe4Living on April 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love to entertain and I do it just about every weekend whether it's entertaining family or friends. Usually I like to make up my own appetizers or entrees but when I ran across this book I had to buy it. I would have to say some of these recipes might be scary for a first time cook but a lot of them are easy to follow and so great to look at. If you love to entertain then I highly reccommend this cookbook for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Barrett on March 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book I keep reaching for when entertaining. I've made many of the recipes and they've all been just great. It's set up so that there are main recipes and then lots of other variations. She also suggests appetizers and sides. It really makes for effortless entertaining. It's an especially great book if you are a bit new to entertaining or nervous about it.
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