Sunday, September 19, 2010

Perfect One-Dish Dinners - Pam Anderson

Summary: In Perfect One-Dish Dinners, the New York Times best-selling author Pam Anderson shares her secret for having people over without breaking stride: Make just one dish. Instead of a parade of offerings, she focuses attention on a single main course—a rustic tart, paella, grilled platter, or homey stew. Perfect One-Dish Dinners showcases about forty such meals, perfect for every season and occasion, all designed to wow guests, calm the cook, and relieve the dishwasher at the end of the night. (Summary from publisher - Image from - Digital copy of book, loaned for review)

My Review: Whether you are a cooking connoisseur or just a talentless hack like me, you’ll find a lot to love about Perfect One-Dish Dinners.

I don’t know about you, but in our house Mommy is the line cook and Daddy is the chef. It’s not that I don’t know my way around a kitchen. I measure. I pour. I stir. But, try as I might, I cannot get all the different dishes to finish at the same time; I usually end up with a piping hot entrée, lukewarm bread, and stone cold soup. I am the Goldilocks of the culinary world and it’s giving me fits.

Perfect One-Dish Dinners feels like it was written with my needs in mind. It claims to have the ability to “wow the family and guests, calm the cook, and at the end of the night, impress the dishwasher”. Sold. Where do I pay?

I have been slicing and dicing my way through this cookbook so fast, you’d think it is a bestselling novel. Despite the fact that some of the meals titles look intimidating, closer examination reveals a cookbook that is gloriously simple with inspiring photos, helpful directions, and easy to follow recipes using readily available ingredients. Each entrée recipe comes with appetizer, salad, and dessert recipes that complement the meal, just in case you are trying to be fancy or feeding a crowd. The author also provides instant alternatives, quick substitutions, and make ahead ideas for meals if you are running short on time or ingredients.

Not only were these meals healthy and gorgeous, they were huge hits with my family, which means I don’t have to listen to a rousing chorus of “I don’t like this!” while I pick at a mediocre meal. Among many others, I have made the Carnita Style Beef with Roasted Peppers and Onions (my family devoured it), Spicy Chicken Enchiladas Verde with Sour Cream and Cilantro (my personal favorite), the Tandoori Platter (a delicious dish with just the right amount of heat), and the Salsa Verde Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings (impressively beautiful and tasty, to boot). My husband actually asked me to leave the latter on the table so that he could eat another helping after he got back from a meeting. What few dishes I had were licked clean and the leftovers weren’t left over for long. I was stunned. Is this what Paula Deen feels like? A girl could get used to this.

If you'd like to try out some recipes and see some of the food in action and made by Pam herself, check out this post by The Pioneer Woman.

Sidenote: My only complaint was that there were a few lamb dishes. For me, even one is too many. I don't like lamb. Baby sheep are too cute to eat. Period.

My Rating: 5 Stars.

Sum it up: Simple, delicious recipes and inspirational photos --a must for a reluctant, less-than-skilled cook like me.


Amy said...

Mindy, would you say these meals were pretty healthy?

MindySue said...

Well, "healthy" is a fairly relative term, but I feel like the recipes were healthy according to my definition. Now, deserts are deserts and so I won't even comment there, but the rest of the recipes called for fresh, whole food ingredients and, very few, if any, canned products. That having been said, some of them did have stuff like meat, cheese and other rich dairy products- though rarely in mass quantities. I know that I did substitute 1% milk for the whole milk required in the Salsa Verde Chicken w/ Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings, and my family was none the wiser. Many of the options are grill-able or just require some olive oil, salt, and pepper. There are also a TON of great salad ideas that I really enjoyed (as long as you're okay with a sprinkling of nuts or goat cheese). I plan on buying this books as a gift for quite a few members of my family this year.

I hope that helps!


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