Forget the perfectly pressed linen. Forget the name cards at every guest's place. Forget the full bar, the four-course meal, and all the fussy little details that supposedly make parties divine. Who has the house, the money, or the time to throw that kind of party, anyway?
In Real Life Entertaining, Jennifer Rubell offers break-the-rules entertaining ideas and quick, easy, stylish recipes for last-minute drop-in dinners, sit-down meals, brunches, buffets, and one-pot meals. Conventional wisdom says it's rude to invite someone to dinner on the same day. Jennifer's real life wisdom says it's never rude to invite guests to your home. The worst that will happen is that they'll be busy and say no. Conventional wisdom says never serve the same meal that you offered guests the last time. Jennifer says if you've got a signature dish, flaunt it!
Jennifer incorporates her relaxed, lively style into a variety of festive themes, from an evening of red wine and bruschetta, to a New York-style brunch, to a one-pot meal of the easiest -- and tastiest! -- meatballs you'll ever make. The recipes are simple and the ingredients lists are short, so you can whip up party-friendly fare such as Thai Chicken Wings, Sesame-Mint Pita Chips, and Grilled Shrimp with Garlic and Citrus in mere minutes.
With Jennifer's expert party tricks, plus full-color photographs throughout, Real Life Entertaining is the ultimate go-to party guide. Jennifer will show you how to get your guests to pitch in and how to make sure that you have as much fun as the people you've invited. Never again will you panic at the prospect of a party.
Entertainment columnist for the Miami Herald's Home & Design magazine and a boutique hotel owner, Rubell presents her unfussy approach to entertaining in this fun, energetic book. She arranges the recipes into seven sections, each focusing on a different type of gathering (e.g., "Dinner for a Crowd"; "Lunch Buffets"). At the start of each chapter, Rubell discusses how many people to invite, how to set the mood and what drinks to serve. As she promises, the recipes are easy, even for inexperienced cooks, yet are tasteful and delicious, often relying on staples like vinegars and mustard. Fresh herbs also find their way into most recipes, such as Grilled Shrimp with Garlic and Citrus, and Grilled Skirt Steak with Orange-Mint Chimichurri. "Party Tricks" are useful, suggesting, for instance, that the host bring the toaster into the dining room during brunch, so everyone can toast their own bagel without disrupting the conversation. "Real Life Wisdom" sidebars remind hosts to keep stress levels low when entertaining by doing whatever feels right to them, regardless of traditional rules. The book's only weak link is its dessert chapter, with just a handful of recipes, all of them sauces for ice cream. Still, this is a strong entry in the crowded entertaining field.