Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
Publication Date: 2010
Featured Recipe: Chicken Potpie with Green Apples and Cheddar Biscuits
In Perfect One-Dish Dinners, the New York Times best-selling author Pam Anderson shares her secret for having people over without breaking stride: Make just one dish. Instead of a parade of offerings, she focuses attention on a single main course–a rustic tart, paella, grilled platter, or homey stew. Perfect One-Dish Dinners showcases about forty such meals, perfect for every season and occasion, all designed to wow guests, calm the cook, and relieve the dishwasher at the end of the night. But that’s not all. If the cook wants to make something extra, Pam provides a compatible appetizer, salad, and dessert for every one dish. And as a special bonus, she throws in “nearly instant” alternatives for each–more than 200 mixable, matchable recipes.
It’s springtime. The kids are out or about to be out of school. Everyone is making plans for the summer. Holidays, vacations, travel arrangements. Everyone is busy. What is there to do but throw a dinner party? But since everyone is busy, why not share the cooking and share the fun?
This was the plan when six of us got together.Â Diane, the perfect hostess, volunteered (along with her husband, Bruce) her gorgeous home and her superb hostessing abilities — and also agreed to cook the main dish. Carol and Paul, Cooks&Books&Recipes Featured Cooks and the couple behind The Southwest Wine Guide, brought along plenty of wine so that we could enjoy some wine-tasting. What was our role? Hmmm, we selected the recipes and cooked the appetizers and desserts. Of course, in choosing the recipes, we had the easiest job: we simply picked up Pam Anderson’s Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers.
Anderson’s solution for a foolproof dinner party? Make one, beautiful entree. A bonus is that the entree is cooked and served in just one dish. In addition, the cookbook offers ideas for appetizers, salads, and desserts to accompany each entree, so you don’t have stress over what goes with what. Plus, Pam offers “instant alternatives” — secret tips to make store-bought taste and look homemade. All of this in one cookbook means that a dinner party really is possible even when everyone is busy.
Since the six of us at this dinner party have just a few (ahem) particular likes and dislikes, we decided to choose the entree first, then pick and choose among all the book’s appetizers, salads, and desserts to come up with a customized menu. After a fun lunch spent poring over the entire cookbook and its gorgeous photos, we had our final choices:
- Appetizers: Roasted Mixed Nuts; Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella in Crisp Prosciutto Cups; Gnocchi with Parmesan and Sage Butter
- Main Dish: Chicken Potpie with Green Apples and Cheddar Biscuits
- Desserts: Light Vanilla Panna Cotta with Sugared Balsamic Strawberries; Mocha Tartlets
With three appetizers and two desserts (including one “instant alternative” recipe in each category), we decided to skip the salad. But when the time came for serving and plating, the cooks in the kitchen made a few last-minute changes: extra tomato, basil, and mozzarella went into a caprese salad, the gnocchi was also served in the prosciutto cups (these things were super-simple to make, looked elegant, and everyone loved them–definite do-again), and the vanilla panna cotta was topped with the mocha tartlets. Innovative inspiration!
As for the main dish, here’s the recipe. To accompany the entree, we (thoroughly) enjoyed an Arizona wine: Keeling Schaefer Vineyard’s Three Sisters Syrah. The syrah was Southwest Wine Guide‘s “Wine of the Month” for January, and we now know why! To learn more about this wine and other “Wine of the Month” picks from Southwest vineyards, be sure to visit the site.