Friends at My Table: Recipes for a Year of Eating, Drinking and Making Merry, by Alice Hart, will get you ready to plan and host a wonderful party. Elegant yet casual, the recipes and suggestions in this book will help your friends and family feel welcome and relaxed at any gathering you host.
Divided into seasons and menus, this book is perfect for informal, yet celebratory parties. You'll find 12 menus (three for each season), whether you're planning a casual gathering or something more elaborate. The recipes in this book are meant more for a crowd: think in terms of 10, 16 and 20. However, Hart indicates that most of her recipes can be halved or quartered for a more intimate meal.
The recipes and party ideas in Friends at My Table are more laid-back than super-formal, and you'll find guidance throughout the pages that will help provide your festivities with fanfare and fun. You'll find some standard party-planning essentials like seating, tables and flowers included in the Laid-Back Country Wedding section. There are also pleasant surprises sprinkled throughout the book, like a guide on how to use chopsticks for the Vietnamese Bridal Shower menu, and another on wild foraging for your food, as well as one on how to make simple vodka infusions (great to enjoy and give as gifts during the holidays). Hart strives to make party planning easy and stress-free so everyone can enjoy the fun.
With a focus on seasonal eating, Hart notes that food can also help create an atmosphere. Food should be delicious, she says, but also appealing in its colors and textures. Parties were meant to be memorable, right? You'll find instructions to help, and that won't deplete you financially. So that party planning for a larger gathering doesn't make you run, Hart includes techniques and tips on things like prior prep, when possible. She suggests you shop and prepare in advance. If you can prep some ingredients ahead of time, make a plan for it.
A helpful guide you'll turn to often, the Seasonality Chart details when fruits, herbs and vegetables are best to enjoy. If you're cooking for a bunch rather than a few, you'll also appreciate the Equipment and Techniques to Cook for Crowds.
The gorgeous images of tablescapes with flowers, flatware and food bring an immediate sense of welcome with a relaxed vibe, like walking into a party in your honor held in your best friend's backyard.
Try a recipe from Friends at My Table:
For the pie dough
For the filling
For the pie dough
For the filling
A graduate of Leiths School of Food and Wine, Alice Hart was the youngest-ever food editor at Waitrose Food Illustrated. She set up and ran the hit pop-up restaurant, The Hart and Fuggle, in London with fellow food writer and chef, Georgina Fuggle and appeared in the BBC2 special, Sophie Dahl on Mrs. Beeton. As well as a passion for all things culinary, Alice is in love with Myrtle the Hurtle, her 1972 VW camper van, complete with its own kitchen. Alice's Cook Book was published by Quadrille in 2010, as part of the New Voices in Food series and her recipes are regularly featured in The New York Times and Stella magazine.
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