"A good party is not about the food," says Ina Garten, "it's about the people." That may be true, but her Barefoot Contessa Parties!
will ensure that your next party is a fabulous one, regardless of your guest list. Garten, author of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
and a monthly column in Martha Stewart Living
, has been catering since 1978. So who better to put together a collection of entertaining theme parties? She's included everything from drinks and hors d'oeuvres to dessert and coffee, as well as notes about what "surprises," atmospheres, venues, and table decorations lend themselves to each. Because she likes to attend her own parties (and who doesn't?), almost every recipe is make-ahead and remarkably uncomplicated.
From casual get-togethers, such as the Pizza Party--which includes recipes for Caesar Salad with Pancetta, California Pizzas that your guests can assemble themselves, and Ice-Cream Sodas--to the elegant Academy Awards dinner--where your guests will enjoy Raspberry Vodka, Rori's Potato Chips with Caviar Dip, Smoked Salmon with Mesclun, Filet of Beef with Gorgonzola Sauce, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic Roasted Potatoes, and Chocolate Ganache Cake--Garten's parties are well thought out and well organized. Divided by season, you'll look forward to Summer's Outdoor Grill, which starts with Real Margaritas, followed by Endive and Avocado Salad, Grilled Herb Shrimp with Mango Salsa, Spaghettoni al Pesto, Tomato Fennel Salad, and Peach Raspberry Shortcakes for dessert. Autumn brings beautiful menus like the one where you cook with your guests and end up with a feast of Potato Pancakes with Caviar, Salad with Warm Goat Cheese, Rack of Lamb, Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, and Apple Crostata. Winter's menus bring soul-warming food, such as Seafood Chowder, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, and a recipe for possibly the world's best Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Spring offers menus such as the Sunday Breakfast, with a main course of Roasted Asparagus with Scrambled Eggs, and the Jewish Holiday Party, with Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls.
Filled with funny party anecdotes, a bit of Ina Garten history, and clever hints and tips to help guarantee the success of these recipes, this collection, subtitled "Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun," delivers on every count. --Leora Y. Bloom
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