I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I loved this cookbook, one of the best at combining interesting dishes and suggestion/advice on throwing get togethers. If you're fan of David Burtka, you'll greatly enjoy the intimate feel, the big glossy pictures of family and friends as he invites you into his world for a while. If you like being the go-to house for gatherings, you'll love the ideas you'll get from this book.
Burtka organizes the book into seasonal categories and provides different levels, a basic, upgraded, or over-the-top party and dishes, easy, moderate, or involved, to help you create your ideal party. The menu provides for meat eaters and vegetarians and has clear pictures of finished products to help you design the best final product presentation.
The dishes I tried out:
Spring – Dig-in Brunch: Rhubarb-Ginger Crumb Muffins
These were “Easy” and even though they are from scratch, I agree. Even more importantly, they tasted fresh, light, and delicious.
Summer – Summer SOULstice – Mint Pesto Pasta
This was also labeled as “Easy” and again, I feel newish cooks wouldn't have a problem creating this dish. The taste wowed me and the friends I made this for. It is a seemingly innocuous dish that packs a punch.
Fall – Fright Night – Roasted Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette and Spicy Pepitas
This fell under the “Moderate” label, it was time consuming, 2hrs, and some of the process I could see new to cooking people struggle with. I loved how all the ingredients were truly seasonal but making it for a Halloween Party might be a struggle, I think a simple family night would be a great time to try this. All the flavors combined together beautifully.
Winter – Game Night – Chicken Tot Pie
This was also “Moderate”. What I loved about this one was the warm, textured taste. I also liked how different variation ideas were listed so that you could create a family favorite.
All the recipes were inventive but also not too intimidating to take on. This probably veers more towards moderate to experienced cooks because of the effort you might have to make to find the ingredients and some preparation and actually cooking. The instructions were clear, concise, and easy to follow, so adventurous newbies could try.
The party ideas were brilliant and fun. Along with the menu ideas, Burtka gives ideas to what guests can bring, how to get them involved, and parting gifts. For a party newbie, like me, I loved how he worked to take the anxiety out of planning togethers, he breaks advice for planners down to what to wear, activities, and how to plan ahead. Each party or themed night is also provided with a playlist from Spotify (the songs are listed) to help you set the right vibe.
This is a must have for party planners from basic to over-the-top and cooks who want to make inventive and flavorful dishes. The suggestions, advice, and different variations to try will have your friends and family singing your praises, so much fun to be had from this book.