Review: Perfect One-Dish Dinners

Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-TogethersPerfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers
by Pam Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect One-Dish Dinners / 978-0-54719-595-7

I love cookbooks and I was excited to try this one when it came available on NetGalley. Several weeks later, I'm a little...confused.

Make no mistake about it - this is a breathtakingly lovely book. There's a lot of valuable recipes here, but they're definitely of the "advanced student" variety, so do be aware of that. Almost every recipe has at least a dozen ingredients, and almost everything in this book is made completely from scratch - anytime dumplings or biscuits are working into a recipe, for instance, you *will* be making those dumplings from floury scratch.

There's nothing wrong with an advanced-level cookbook, but it's just strange because the book is marketed as "easy" recipes, and there's really nothing easy about these. No prep times are estimated with the recipes, but I'd guess that most of them take over an hour to prepare. Adding to my confusion is the whole "one-dish" premise isn't kept to - the introduction states that "one-dish" dinners are easier, and thus was born this book... but every "one-dish" comes complete with an appetizer and dessert suggestion... as well as the occasional side. Don't get me wrong - it's great to have the suggestions of sides and desserts for when they are wanted or needed, but this is especially weird because everything is grouped together as one "meal", rather than the usual entrees, sides, appetizers, desserts layout of most cookbooks. The practical upshot of this is that if you want to make the "Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream", you'd better remember that it was listed with the "Lobster Dinner", because there's no Table of Contents to get you there. (In all fairness, there is an alphabetized index in the back.)

I'm also not sure about the "Get-Togethers" part - a lot of the recipes are very exotic and specialized, and maybe my family is different, but if you get more than 5 of us in a room together, someone is going to dislike (or worse, be allergic to) at least one of the ingredients in these dozen-ingredient extravaganzas.

So, ultimately, if you take out the "one-dish", the "easy", and the "get-togethers", we have "Perfect Dinners: All You Need". But, then, I don't know if this is ALL you need since the layout can still be a little wonky - there's no Table of Contents, the pictures aren't labeled (although they ARE lovely) and sometimes require a little guess work to match with the relevant recipe, there's no prep times listed, and there's no nutritional data summary (a nice touch in many of the Better Homes and Gardens books that I've come to like).

Really, if you have all the time in the world, love baking from scratch, are an advanced hand in the kitchen, and have a non-picky and open-minded group of friends and family, there are some really good three-course meals in this book. I just don't understand why they're not marketing it that way?

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.

~ Ana Mardoll

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