Last month one of my friends in PR contacted me with an opportunity to preview a new cookbook that was about to hit stores. I don’t always agree to do reviews, it has to be a pretty darn good book or product and there has to be something special about it. This book is definitely special.
I used to work in a local cooking school and we had a lot of hands-on classes. It was always fun helping the chefs with these classes because everyone has such a good time. If you haven’t done one, you need to – you will love them!
Sometimes the classes were made up of people who signed up for them because they wanted to learn from the chef and liked the menu. Other times the classes were made up of people who worked together or were friends. Those were the best ones to help with.
When people arrive at the class they are divided into teams and each team is assigned one or more recipes to make. The teams break up the tasks, prep, cook, and assemble their dishes. At the end of the class everyone sits down and shares the meal they created. Lots of laughs and jokes happen and everyone has a wonderful time.
The cookbook, “Cook the Part” by Karin Eastham is a collection of menus designed to made in the same way you would in a class, only you can do these in your own home! Karin has done all of the planning for you, figured out the menu, broken the recipes down into the parts that each team is responsible for and tell you exactly how to run the party.
Each section has a specific theme and begins with an overview. For example, “Tonight you and your guests will create a Tuscan farmhouse experience. Imagine the golden sun setting on rolling hills of grape vines and olive trees, ready for harvest. In the Tuscan spirit, this menu includes simple foods made with fresh, traditional ingredients.” You just know that your friends and family would totally get into the spirit of the evening!
Each menu comes with a menu, the recipes, a breakdown of how many people in each team, total prep time and which parts of the menu can be made ahead of time by the host, including suggested appetizers for people to nibble on while they are cooking. Then she gives you a timeline to help keep people on schedule, showing which team is responsible for what part of the recipe.
I really appreciate how, just like in a professional kitchen, some people prepare ingredients that will be used in other dishes by different chefs. Everyone gets something to do and each team is dependent on the other teams for portions of their prep. This really forces the teams to work in tandem and have an appreciation for how a dish and meal comes together – with the help of everyone in the kitchen.
The menus cover a wide variety of cuisines such as Pacific Northwest Seafood Dinner, A Taste of Baja, Dinner in Athens, and Authentic Tastes of Indonesia. Each menu has a combination of appetizers, salads, sides, soups, vegetables, entrees, and desserts that complement one another. There are eight menus you and your friends can make. And once you’ve done all of them, start over, putting together different teams.
I made three recipes, each one from a different menu. I was a team of one, but just imagine how much frivolity would have ensued if I had had some buddies helping!
If you have a group of friends who get together for gourmet dinners, this would be the perfect culinary map to follow. And if it is your turn to plan the next party, invite them to your house for a kitchen adventure. What fun!
And now for the GIVEAWAY! Thanks to Karin and the good folks at Crosswalk Press, I have a book to give to one of you! All you have to do is follow the directions in the rafflecopter below and you’ll have a bunch of opportunities to enter! And then you can make the recipe below, which is perfect for summer barbecues.
Good Luck, Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July!
The Giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Rachel H., our Winner!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
The dry rub and marinade can be made in advance, making your actual hands-on time quite reasonable and very doable for a weeknight.
As long as your dried herbs and seasonings do not have any hidden ingredients, this is naturally gluten-free.
- 8 large chicken breast halves, boneless with skin on
- 12 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1-1/2 cups olive oil
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp Gary’s Rub (recipe follows) or a purchased grill rub
- Canola oil spray for grilling
- 8 bricks wrapped in foil
- Rosemary sprigs or basil leaves for garnish
- Wash and dry chicken. Place breasts, one at a time, into a large sealable plastic bag and, using covered bricks, pound to 1/2" thickness. Remove from bag and repeat with remaining breasts.
- Place garlic, oregano, red pepper, rosemary and thyme in a small food processor and gradually add oil while processing.
- Divide the marinade and prepared chicken equally between 2 large sealable plastic bags and turn until chicken is coated. Refrigerate in marinade until ready to grill.
- Spray grill rack with canola oil. Preheat grill to medium. Prepare bricks as indicated. Place foil-covered bricks on grill to heat. Be sure to use thick gloves or pot holders to handle heated bricks.
- Remove chicken from marinade. Sprinkle with salt and Gary’s rub.
- Place chicken skin side down on grill. Top each breast with a brick and grill until skin is brown and crispy, approximately 5 minutes. Turn chicken and grill until done, another 2 minutes or so. Remove to platter and cover with foil until ready to serve. Garnish with rosemary or basil and serve.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 3 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp celery seeds
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- Combine ingredients in medium bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight jar. Keeps 4-6 months.
Create a New Tradition Today!
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I’d like to share a dinner with my neighbors.
I love cooking for family and friends!
I would love to share a dinner with MFK Fisher. She is my all time favorite.
I’d love to get my friends together at least monthly to share a dinner and drinks! I’d love it if we all brought something and shared recipes!
With this nice guy I met on a festival last weekend 😉
That’s a great concept for a cookbook! I like books with unique themes like that, sounds like a lot of fun.
I would love to share a dinner with the neighbors who live on my street!
I suppose overall I’d love to share a dinner with my family – I rarely get to see them and I’d love to cook, prepare and eat a meal with all of them!
My friends and family love my cooking esppecially when I try new recipes.
Hi Susan, I’m sure your family will love the recipes from this book – and may even help you prepare them!! Good luck!
Jane – I have always wanted to start a “cooking/dinner” party group. What a great book to help get things organized in the beginning. This recipe looks very gluten free friendly. Do the other recipes look like they can be modified easily? I’m pretty good taking regular recipes and modifying them, but since you’ve made several dishes I wanted to get your opinion. I love cookbooks – thanks for the giveaway opportunity!
Most of the recipes are easily converted to GF and this one for the chicken is completely GF. I had trouble picking which recipes I wanted to test! If you are used to converting recipes, you shouldn’t have trouble with 90% of the book. Good Luck!
Thanks! It’s on my “cookbook wish list” now