Gourmet’s Weekends Cookbook

Gourmet's Weekends Cookbook

Gourmet’s Weekends Cookbook — Not Just for Weekends

Review by: Gillian Kendall

I’ve have had Gourmet’s Weekends longer than almost any other cookbook. I originally took it home for my mother, who used it for a while, but then it mysteriously became mine and I have appreciated the gift ever since.

In a radical book-design choice that makes this Gourmet’s Weekends hardback unique among cookbooks, the cover photo includes barely any food. Instead, it focuses on a wide-angle scene from someplace like Cape Cod, or maybe New Zealand: a grassy meadow overlooking a big pond on which a small white-sailed boat plows out towards the distant shore. In the foreground sits a squat table, oddly and asymmetrically set for three, and on the table are some very small, not-quite-in-focus bowls of gazpacho, or something.

Gourmet’s Weekends Cookbook Entertaining, Not Just Cooking

So from the front cover onwards the message is clear: this Gourmet’s Weekends book is about entertaining your friends, having fun, being outside, relaxing, and, oh yeah, putting together a few fabulous things to eat. As the title (Weekends!) implies, this is about spending quality time with friends, not standing in your kitchen measuring ingredients.

The table of contents follows through on the promise: instead of the usual categories of recipes (soups, salads, breads, yawn), Gourmet’s Weekends presents four seasons’ worth of choices for weekend-long entertaining. Spring Garden Weekend suggests a slew of menus with names like “A Casual Friday Dinner,” “Lunch in the Garden,” and “Brunch Alfresco.” Once the spring entertaining is over, you can move on to Summer Beach House Weekend, from which you can choose “Serve-Yourself Breakfast” or “Send-Off Dinner,” (presumably depending on how you feel about your houseguests). Fall Foliage Weekend has things like “A Hearty Autumn Dinner” or “Lunch for a Chilly Day,” while Winter Ski Weekend proffers “Dinner in a Cozy Kitchen” or “A Warm-Up Snack” or “Pre-Ski Breakfast.” At the end are uncategorized extras: “More Lunch Entrees,” “More Side Dishes,” and so on.

Each of the set meals is its own chapter in the Gourmet’s Weekends. Most pages are illustrated with photos of some, but not all, of the dishes (and quite a lot of non-food scenery). Each weekend menu includes four to six recipes which combine to make an impressive, enjoyable meal. (Warning: these meals seem to be written for hosts who don’t worry about their own or their guests’ weight or cholesterol levels.)

Gourmet’s Weekends Cookbook Super Supper Club Menus

At Amazon.com, the book’s description says:

There’s nothing like a special weekend when you can set aside your worries and gather friends for a few precious days. And what better way is there to enhance good times than with good food. Gourmet’s Weekends is here to help you plan your next get-together with an incredible collection of casual menus to take you from Friday-night welcoming dinners through Sunday-afternoon send-offs. Now even the host can relax.

So why wait a minute longer? All the plans are made. Simply choose a weekend and call your closest friends. You are all in for a treat.

However, I have never actually used the Gourmet’s Weekendsas intended to plan a weekend of eating for my country-club friends or book club. I tend to prepare just one or two of the recipes and use them in menus of my own devising. But if I were still in a supper club (where one person has the power and the joy of assigning recipes to other friends to prepare and bring to share), I’d divvy up these dishes so that everyone could have, say, the “Taste of Spring Dinner” with goat cheese ravioli and lamb London broil and rice with parsley and toasted almonds and watercress salad vinaigrette, and pineapple sorbet. A really ambitious cook could probably handle all that by him/herself, but I’m more inclined to focus on one great dish.

Where to purchase the Gourmet’s Weekends: Seasonal Menus and Recipes for Casual Gatherings

And the one great dish I’ve come back to in this cookbook more times than I can remember or count is not among the planned menus. It’s tucked back in “More Desserts” and there isn’t even a photo of it, so I don’t know how I came to first try it. But it’s fantastic , and despite the fact that it’s not even remotely healthy, this recipe is requested more than any other I make. “Chocolate Raspberry Tart” starts out asking the cook to reduce heavy cream…and then add chocolate and butter. Need I say more? Probably not – get thee to Amazon.com. and get thee Gourmet’s Weekends.

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About Gillian Kendall

20+ years of professional commercial, academic and technical writing. With a Ph.D (Ohio University) and two MAs (Stanford and U.C. Davis) I'm a former Chair in Writing at Birmingham-Southern College and Cisco technical writer, currently a fulltime freelance writer / editor with three books to my name, a NEW YORK TIMES notable book award, and hundreds of freelance articles, essays, and features.

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