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)
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). RISOTTO CAKES Ingredients
- 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.
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)
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