The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty
A Table for Friends celebrates the joy of eating with friends and family, with over 100 simple and wonderfully inviting recipes that allow you to relax with your loved ones whilst the cooking takes care of itself.
Drawing on years of cooking for more people than it ever seemed possible to squeeze into her kitchen, Sunday Times columnist and cookery author Skye McAlpine shares the secrets to her stylish and relaxed way of hosting, setting you up for success whether you’re cooking for two or twenty.
A Table for Friends has recipes for every occasion, from last-minute weeknight dinners to large celebratory gatherings. Skye’s recipes fall into four chapters, Stars, Sides, Sweets and Extras, which allow you to intuitively plan a simple and impressive menu, and, because juggling oven space is one of the biggest challenges when cooking for a crowd, each chapter is ingeniously organised into Throw Together, On The Hob and In The Oven so your menu works best for your mood, your kitchen and your time.
Alongside these beautiful, deliciously do-able recipes comes Skye’s practical, fuss-free guidance for hosting a stress-free gathering, from what to cook in advance to how to lay the table beautifully, allowing you to step out of the kitchen and relax with your guests.
For a super-easy roast why not try her Honey-roast poussins, Butter-&-sage roast pumpkin, Saffron fennel, A really good chicory salad with creamy mustard dressing and Winter fruit & mascarpone tart? Or for a wonderfully soothing pasta supper, Tagliatelle with gorgonzola, pear & walnut and Chocolate chestnut meringue cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
This is a cookbook to cook from: a helpful, approachable, down-to-earth kitchen companion that will give you the confidence to gather friends around your table and the inspiration to do so more often.
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Skye’s previous book, A Table in Venice has been one of our all time favourite books, and A Table for Friends is destined to join it in our collection of inspiring cookery books.
Skye writes in such a lyrical way and the photography that accompanies her writing throughout the book is outstanding!
We love the way that the book is created, Skye says that she wants the contents of this book to feel intuitive;
‘So I wrote it just as I cook.The recipes fall into chapters that take you, step by step, through my thought process in the kitchen: stars, sides and sweets. And then, should you need them, extras.’
It really is written in such an inclusive way:
‘Imagine we are sitting at the kitchen table together, planning a meal, choosing what to cook and scribbling down what we need to buy as we go. First we start with the main dish, what I like to call the ‘star’.This is the centrepiece of lunch or dinner, the main event. It might be a plump roast chicken, a decadently cheesy frittata, or macaroni baked into a flaky pastry pie crust – you choose – but this is what sets the feel and mood of the meal. Then we think about side dishes; as a rule of thumb, we’ll need two of these (three, if feeling extravagant). One should be a simple, fresh salad and perhaps you might want some potatoes (I always want potatoes).The rest is very much up to you. And pudding. Of course, we’ll need pudding. Then, should were in the mood for going that extra mile, we might consider baking a loaf of bread or making our own mayonnaise, say, or salsa verde, to complement the rest of the meal. A little something ‘extra’.
This paragraph sums up Skye’s approach throughout the book. However what sets it apart is the detail; each recipe comes with full details of its origin, the best way to prepare it and the wonderfully helpful timing details, e.g. ‘Hands on 15 minutes’, ‘Hands off 20 minutes, simmering’ Plus full details of the ingredients, preparation and the method, supported by gorgeously inspiring photographs of the finished dish.
The recipes are mostly Italian, many are Skye’s own, but she also includes recipes from her friends’ kitchens, from their family archives, as well as from her own childhood, plus some from her husband’s family. Above all what is collected here are recipes designed to be successful, so that you can concentrate on creating that wonderful table of food to share with friends.
But this book is so much more than delicious recipes, there are delightful details on how to set the scene for the meal, the way that Skye describes this is utterly charming, from the actual table, the tablecloth, the napkins, the mismatched tableware and cutlery, the flowers, candles, even the pans!
She has a rule ‘I own nothing that is too precious to be broken’, and has a caveat ‘that all plates should all be dishwasher-friendly: life is too short to wash things up by hand.’
After taking us through the most sublime meals, Skye completes the book with comprehensive details, including a summary of all her dishes arranged through the seasons, plus sample menus for cooking for different groups of people, and suggestions for meals to cook when you have different amounts of time available.
This is a magical book, we absolutely adore it and that is why we are delighted to choose A Table for Friends as our as our Cookery Book of the Month. Highly Recommended!