Color me totally biased, but one of my best friends is also one of the best cookbook authors on record.  Diane Worthington has written more cookbooks than I have fingers and toes put together.  We started talking food in the late 1970’s when she coined the term “California cuisine.”  It stuck, and so did her style of fresh food, using the best seasonal ingredients, in the easiest and most successful way.  Now she has segued into “seriously simple” using her fresh style to create meals in minutes without sacrificing quality.

SERIOUSLY SIMPLE PARTIES: Recipes, Menus & Advice for Effortless Entertaining combines all her talent into one lovely volume of easy but superb recipes for any occasion.  Sample menus are arranged by season to take advantage of the abundance of fresh produce.  Diane Worthington always wants to make entertaining stress-free and she does so in inspiring menus in this fabulous book.  She emphasizes my kind of list making, organized, pre-prep entertaining so that the host or hostess can enjoy the party as well as the guests.

The book begins with “Party Basics” including the “Party Pantry” loaded with everything from agave syrup and burrata cheese to pancetta and Diane’s famous seriously simple seasoning mix. The author delves into styles of entertaining including sit-down, family style, buffet, potluck, and outdoors.  There is a section on “stocking the bar,” “party essentials,” and one on “setting the table.”

The sample menus are a great starting off point for those who need the security of a planned meal but, the menus also inspire you to mix and match.  The autumn menu that I can’t wait to try is the “Paella Party” including prosciutto-wrapped figs with burrata & port & balsamic syrup; tapas platter; white gazpacho or arugula salad with roasted grapes, oven–baked paella; and Limoncello zabaglione with fresh berries.  I know that when I cook one of Diane’s recipes, it will work, and I will surely get applause.

For winter try the easy-to-prepare “New Year’s Day Open House Brunch for 8” including a sparkling cocktail, deli frittata; fruit salad with yogurt-honey sauce; doughnut muffin; and cheese platter with assorted breads. For spring, I like the “Weekday Dinner Party for 4 to 6” including pomegranate-marinated grilled lamb chops; steamed spinach; roasted herbed fingerling potatoes; and strawberries and blood oranges with port & balsamic syrup and cookies.  For summer I would choose a “Fourth of July Party for 8 to 16” including assorted dips and crudités, pulled pork with Hawaiian bread buns; sweet corn pudding; summer Caprese salad with watermelon, cucumber & feta relish; and summer stone fruit cobbler.

This book is a must have for any cook!

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