The difference between dull and dazzling can be a pretty fine line.
I’ve published my own book. It’s hard. There’s a BIG difference between something being “not easy” and something being “hard”. Self publishing is the latter.
The book I published wasn’t a cookbook. It wasn’t a tell all novel or a how to manual. It was 168 pages of restaurant and dining information for Sarasota Florida. It sounds relatively simple. I’m here to tell you it’s not.
Every month I get cookbooks from self publishers delivered to my door to take a look at. Every time I open the shipping envelope I have an appreciation for the hard work, sweat and worry that goes into the process of creating a book on your own.
I’m not here to try and convince you that cookbook authors and writers who have a deal with a publishing house have it easy. They don’t. Anytime you attempt to produce something original the process comes with it’s own unique set of problems. But, I am here to tell you that those challenges are far more difficult to overcome when you’re out there tackling them alone or with a partner and without a clue (as was my case).
I’ll admit it. I have a soft spot for those willing to go it alone to see their vision become a reality. When Billa Reiss Rubenstein contacted me this fall to have a peek at a book she had published with two friends, Luci Paul and Michele Salomon, how could I say no?
I like to entertain. And, their book, Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More looked like a natural party throwing asset. It’s crammed full of menus, recipes and tips each designed around one holiday a month. It’s creative too.
Some of the “holidays” highlighted here would never be associate with food, April Fool’s Day? I have never been even invited to an April Fool’s Day brunch. Maybe I have the wrong group of friends.
I was a little disappointed to see that July’s menu didn’t revolve around Pandemonium Day (July 14th), but, maybe it will get it’s moment in the spotlight in my proposed sequel, Dazzling Dinners: The Forgotten Celebrations. Or, maybe not.
This book is at it’s best when you’re searching for a new idea. Something fun and out of the ordinary (think Columbus Day). It’s always great to get friends and family together to enjoy some great food and fun. So, why not make a celebration out of it? In my view, that’s the beauty of this book.
Since we’re right at the start of our holiday season, we thought we would share a recipe from the December section. Plus, this recipe uses one of my favorite, old school kitchen toys…
The much beloved potato masher!
Here’s How To Do It
Box of Gold (Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes)
1 large, sweet potato, diced 1 inch
3 lbs., Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced 1 inch
3 Tbsp., butter, melted
¼ cup, heavy cream
½ cup, sour cream
½ cup, Gruyere cheese, grated
1 Tbsp., orange zest
1 tsp., salt
¼ tsp., white pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 8X12 casserole dish. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper.
Place both the sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. When contents comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 15-17 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. When cooked, drain and return pot to heat. Cook for an additional minute or so to remove any excess moisture.
Put the cooked potatoes through a ricer or mash (see utensil above). Add butter, cream, sour cream, Gruyere. orange zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to achieve a consistent color. Spread the potatoes into the casserole dish. Cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and rest covered for 5 minutes.
Using a sharp knife, divide into eight rectangular pieces. Remove each piece and serve.
Recipe, Box of Gold; Courtesy Dazzling Dinners, Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michelle Salomon, Three Fare Ladies 2011.
Just look at that photo. Cantaloupe and pineapple maybe? It’s amazing how similar some foods look when there is no context to them. It’s a bowl of Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes. I swear.
The Bottom Line.
It’s a unfair to compare Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More to a cookbook that has been released by a major publishing company. The advantage of having a crew of editors, professional photographers and recipe testers is unimaginably huge.
What do you look for when you buy a cookbook? There are so many answers and yours is right for you. If you’re looking for a coffee table cookbook, this isn’t it. If you’re more interested in a book that will help you plan a party and maybe get your creative juices flowing then this is a great choice. I guarantee after you throw a Grandparent’s Day party your friends will look at your entertaining prowess in a whole new light.
Authors: Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michele Salomon
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dazzling Dinners