There is undoubtedly a pleasure associated with acquiring a fancy new cookbook and perusing it for the first time. Part of this pleasure comes from imagining the fantastic dishes you will be able to replicate with your newfound aid. Part of the problem is that usually the foods you make look and taste nothing like the gorgeous, glossy 12 x 6 photos accompanying the book.
I have long learned that as an young, single professional, preparing lavish meals that take time, expensive equipment, and a jaw-dropping list of ingredients just isn't feasible. Fortunately, Food Network star Dave Lieberman's new cookbook, Dave's Dinners: A Fresh Approach to Home-Cooked Meals manages to avoid the pitfalls of complicated directions while offering an impressive medley of drinks, appetizers, entrees, and deserts all geared toward the biggest meal of the American family: dinner.
I found Dave's Dinners very accessible. The cookbook is organized by the categories of Drinks and Finger Foods, Salads, Soups, Poultry, Fish, Pasta, Meat, and Dessert. Gorgeous photos accompany most recipes and the selection manages to cover a broad range of dishes inspired by many different regions.
For my first dish, I intentionally chose what I believed would be the one of the hardest dishes to recreate: Chicken Tikka Masala with Cardamom Basmati Rice. I was skeptical about was whether this ethnic Indian dish would taste anything like what you get at a good restaurant. Most ethnic dishes in cookbooks are too simple, to the point that they lack the correct flavors, or are so foreign in the ingredient and preparation, it simply becomes too much of an investment.
I am pleased to say Dave's Dinners seems to be able to balance this fine line, replicating some of the most delicious ethnic recipes I have had the pleasure of trying. Prep time on most of the dishes is surprisingly short and the recipes are easy to follow, with no fancy equipment required. I also have to laud the book for its many easy pasta, rice, salad, and soup recipes.
The emphasis of the book is on beautiful, elegant, delicious dinners on a moderate budget that both the gourmand and the novice alike will appreciate. I've also found it useful for entertaining. Many of the appetizers take little time and preparation but will wow your friends or family.
Both the Ricotta-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates and the Dry-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs were a big hit with my friends, and I am looking forward to trying some of the decadent desserts, listed such as the Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes, and the Best Chocolate Cake Ever. Although Dave's Dinners offers a delicious and creative combination of salads, the main focus is on mouth-watering meals, not on the waistline. Still, little price to pay for a good meal once in a while.
Dave's Dinners is definitely a book I will consult over and over again for a good meal. This book will make a lovely gift from almost anyone. I know I certainly will be using it many times this holiday season to impress family and friends.