If you get the dinnertime blues, there’s good news, and it’s all spelled out in The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook, Debra Ponzek’s collection of accessible recipes and tips for taking the blahs, boredom, bother and quotidian quandaries out of getting a good dinner on the table every night. Chef, caterer, owner of three shops offering company-branded prepared foods and mother of three growing kids, Ponzek knows her way around dinner and knows that we all can get stuck making the same things over and over. To shake things up, and get you out of that rut and into adding new, easy dishes to your repertoire, she offers ideas for organizing your shopping, whipping up your own sauces, salsas and pestos to make the ordinary extraordinary and adding just a few minutes of do-ahead prepping to your routine. Then you’ll find more than 125 recipes for a bevy of burgers, a savory slew of slow-cooked mains, pastas, soups, salads, new twists on chicken standards and desserts guaranteed to produce smiles and happy campers.
COOK WHAT YOU CRAVE
Sometime in the not-too-distant past Lucinda Scala Quinn, adamant advocate of the family meal, star of the Hallmark Channel’s popular show “Mad Hungry” and executive food editor of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, had an epiphany. And that epiphany led her to a new take on takeout that’s all summed up in Mad Hungry Cravings: 173 Recipes for the Food You Want to Eat Right Now. With Lucinda at your side, you can cook what you crave at home; it will be tastier, healthier and much less expensive, and you’ll have the added joy of sitting and savoring at your own table with family and friends. Now, when that unyielding yen for a Philly Cheesesteak, Shrimp Summer Rolls, Beef Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce, Chicken Tikka Masala, Cheese Tamales with Roasted Salsa Verde or Tiramisu comes over you, just turn to your well-stocked larder (instructions included on setting up four basic pantries—American, Asian, Mediterranean and Latin), turn on the stove and get to it. You’ll be able to cook up anything you hanker for.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
A restaurant staff, like an army, marches on its stomach (pace Napoleon). Well-fed workers, from exalted chef to newbie busperson, are happier and more productive if they take a break to break bread with the whole staff at the “family meal” they’re served before they serve you. For Danny Meyer, CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes many of New York City’s most admired restaurants, and Michael Romano, his partner and culinary director of the group, these meals are essential to their philosophy of “enlightened hospitality.” Now Romano and food writer Karen Stabiner have collected more than 150 easy, affordable recipes, peppered with behind-the-scenes stories in Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home. They range from staffers’ personal family favorites (marinated, oven-roasted Dominican Chicken) and innovations inspired by available ingredients (Caramelized Corn with Smoked Paprika) to “reconsidered classics” with innovative tweaks (Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Ricotta). With good header notes and more-than-thorough instructions, these dishes will bring pizzazz and new pleasures to your own family table.