This is an amazingly through cookbook, packed with advice on hosting a successful vegetarian dinner party.
Each recipe has extensive notes including explanations of strange ingredients; what parts of the recipes can be made in advance; ideas for garnishes; what other dishes and drinks would go with it; and tips for preparing dishes more quickly. However, they do not include information on overall prep and cooking times or the nutritional/calorie content of dishes. I guess the latter is less important when planning food for dinner parties rather than everyday food.
Despite the wordiness of the advice and notes around each recipe, the actual instructions for the cooking steps seem simple and concise.
The book is broken down into seven sections:
- Twelve ways to say “welcome” – basically cocktails so serve on your guests’ arrival
- No plates needed – basically hors d’oeuvres
- Small plates – starters
- Salads and soups
- Large plates – other main courses
- Final plates – desserts
There’s a wide range of recipes, including lots of vegan options. In fact half of the recipes are vegan and these are clearly marked. Many of the dishes seem quite autumnal/wintery with lots of hearty sounding stews and casseroles.
The book ends with a nice suggestion for a parting gift for your guests, a recipe for homemade granola which you could give them in jars. I’m slightly obsessed with making my own granola at the moment, so I loved this idea!
There are not enough photos of the finished dishes. I’d estimate probably on 1/3-1/4 of the recipes have an accompanying photo. I much prefer cookery books where every recipe has a photo. Particularly when you are planning food to cook for friends, it helps to know what the dish should look like and have some ideas for plating it up.
I found the overall style of this book a bit patronising and verbose. As well as including recipes, there’s a lot of advice on planning your dinner party. I’d say there’s a bit too much information, such as the inclusion of a suggested playlist (unnecessary) and a rant against the use of paper napkins (who cares?). The introduction is incredibly wordy and spends a lot of time trying to convince you of the benefits of eating veggies. This doesn’t seem necessary as I would have thought the vast majority of people picking up this book and reading the introduction are probably sold on this idea already.
I’ve not had the chance to host a dinner party yet to try out the recipes from this book but I’ll definitely consider some next time we have guests.