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Party Like a Culinista: Fresh Recipes, Bold Flavors, and Good Friends Paperback – October 16, 2011
"I love the fact that Jill and Josie are both believers in the importance of having dinner with your family and friends whenever possible. In fact, the dedication for their book says, 'This cookbook is dedicated to our families who taught us to cook with love, share the table, and celebrate'."-- Susie, Return to Sunday Supper
About the Author
Jill Donenfeld is the founder of The Culinistas, a weekly home chef service in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But books, new business ventures, and killer parties make her repertoire a touch more eclectic. Since writing restaurant reviews for Time Out New York and then living in Madagascar where she was inspired to write a cookbook (Mankafy Sakafo: Delicious Meals From Madagascar), Jill has been interested in how mealtime rituals influence societies. Her next cookbook, Party Like a Culinista is recently in stores and published by Lake Isle Press. She writes for The Huffington Post (a column called Band Bites) and worked on location to write a cookbook for an Indian hotel in Tamil Nadu. her style, food, and travel has been chronicled in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, The LATimes, Daily Candy, Goop and Entrepreneur. She splits her time between Malibu and Manhattan and almost always says "yes" when invited elsewhere.
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Party Like A Culinista has an amazing format. Not only are there menu suggestions, each recipe is designated as "easy", "make ahead", "vegan" or "vegan flex", as well as offering the cooking order. The book even suggests when to change into your party clothes! How fun is that? The photos of the prepared recipes in the book are beautiful and make my mouth water because they look so delicious. The chapters in this book offer suggestions for all different kinds of parties from the casual daytime party to a last minute party, an anytime party or even a big "blow out" more formal party.
I have tried quite a few of the recipes in this book and found them all delicious, unique with a nod towards healthy preparation and ingredients. Though everything has been absolutely excellent some of my favorites are: the Chicken and Apricot Falafel, the Seafood Cobb, the Warm Squash Salad with Faro, Hazelnuts, and Currants, the Arugula and Mozzarella Salad with Eggplant Caponate and the Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas. The Chorizo Red Pepper Polenta Squares are fabulous and a snap to make.
As for ease of use, I think the pictures are really helpful, the directions are very clear with tons of information so that even an inexperienced cook can prepare an impressive, flavorful and healthy meal that will be an enormous hit with his or her guests. The authors offer suggestions for the substitution of hard to find or out of season ingredients. Stated prep/cooking times seem right on, and since many of them require less than an hour, it's pretty easy to pull together a meal quickly. I appreciate that the advance preparation and hold times for the refrigerator and freezer (if applicable) that are given for each recipe. I almost feel as if I am in an expensive cooking class. The introduction includes good information about ingredients, preparation and even equipment. Variations to the recipes are also provided to make them vegan. Finally, I think there are numerous recipes that would appeal to people who like lean proteins with healthy, flavorful sauces, too. If you like lots of flavor, you won't go wrong with this book. It is sure to become one of your favorites.
The suggested menus cover a range of party occasions, from impromptu and daytime to anytime and just a party of two. The creative recipes feature great color and flavor appeal to not only look good on the serving tray but taste delicious on the tongue. And these gals are great at tweaking standard favorites to create something new and sublime, such as the Five Spice Whipped Cream used on apricot Shortcake or designing a salad using squash, farro, currants and hazlenuts or serving a rosemary and olive oil popcorn with cocktails.
Each recipe comes with a "notes" section offering important preparation or serving tips and there is a good selection of color photos showing off the finished dishes. "Party Like a Culinista" will actually have you looking forward to creating fresh menu offerings rather than relying on prepared re-heats.