I have a secret love. Don’t tell my fiance.
Jennifer Joyce‘s Plates to Share has stolen my heart.
The first paragraph of a cookbook says so much about its mission and focus, so I include it here so you can get a feel for the book.
The way we entertain at home has changed. Having friends to visit no longer means hours in the kitchen producing a formal three-course meal. Plates to Share is all about putting together a selection of different foods, stylishly plating them, and letting people talk, drink, and eat at their own pace.
Try a new way of eating and entertaining today and enjoy creating and discovering your own favorite Plates to Share.
Low to slightly skilled. For each global cuisine, Joyce offers options for items to pick up (“To Buy” sections) and mix together quickly (“To Prepare” sections). The full recipes (“To Cook” sections) are not difficult, but many are a tad too time-consuming for my taste.
The photos are interesting and highly functional.
I wouldn’t say that they are strikingly beautiful in the way of many professional food photographers’ blogs, but they serve an important purpose. Every recipe is illustrated either in an individual photo or as part of the large spread at the beginning of each chapter.
For a book that is focused on food for entertaining, the photos serve as a great starting point for plating inspiration.
Structure is where this book really shines.
Many cookbooks organize themselves into sections based on main ingredients or type of food (soups, salads, main dishes, etc.). With Plates to Share, instead of having to flip through the entire book to put together a coherent party menu, each chapter is one themed party with a wide variety of dishes to pick and choose from.
- Arabesque feast with halloumi bites, Turkish bulger salad, and spinach, cinnamon, and pine nut phyllo cigars
- Middle Eastern mezze with flavored flatbreads, eggplant slices in honey sauce, and mini lamb meatballs
- French hors d’oeuvres with mini pissaladieres, bacon-wrapped prunes stuffed with almonds, and cheese, tomato, and black olive gougeres
- Scandinavian fish feast with pickled shrimp and warm baby beet salad with mustard seed dressing
The menus have a decidedly international focus. Essentially, Plates to Share distills the appetizer sections of many different foreign cookbooks into one easy to use reference.
For food restrictions, there are a plethora of options. I always find more than enough meatless recipes to make a meal, and there are also many gluten-free choices.
Vegan dishes are available, due to the international nature of the recipes, but cheese is a rather ubiquitous ingredient throughout the book.
Although I have not cooked my way through the whole book, I have made (and many times at that) a number of recipes from this book.
I have only been disappointed once, and I think that was largely my own fault.
The full recipes and the menus are very well constructed. But I will issue a word of warning on the items listed in the “To Prepare” section: there are not amounts listed for each of the ingredients, so you need to exercise a bit of caution. For instance, if you are only making a very small amount of Greek steamed greens, you should use just the tiniest bit of lemon juice, olive oil, and cinnamon, not the squeeze, drizzle, and pinch suggested.
Recipe Variety: A-
Recipe Quality: B