“Cook the Part” by Karin Eastham of Rancho Santa Fe is about “team cooking.” “Extraordinary Cakes” by San Diego food entrepreneur Karen Krasne lends itself to the “team cooking” concept, too. (courtesy photos)
By LAURA GROCH
Holiday season is rapidly approaching, and with it comes party time. One new way to host a dinner party is as a team. Rancho Santa Fe resident Karin Eastham has written, “Cook the Part: Delicious, Interactive and Fun Team Cooking” (Crosswalk Press, $24.95), which shows how to involve all your guests in producing a themed dinner that will not only entertain, but be a source of fond memories shared.
For example, the “Tuscan Farmhouse Dinner” offers not only a menu and recipes, but a four-course food preparation plan for each of the guest “teams.” Appetizers are done ahead by the host so each group can nibble as they work on the Insalata Caprese, Chicken Under a Brick or Fallen Chocolate Cakes for Eight. (Most dinner plans are for a group of eight.)
Other themes are A Taste of Baja, Pacific Northwest Seafood Evening, Dinner in Athens, Authentic Tastes of Indonesia, Handmade Pasta With Homemade Sauces, Comfort Food and Spanish Wine Dinner.
Eastham’s book and her “team cooking” concept reflect a trend of “social baking/cooking,” illustrated in readers’ approach to another beautiful cookbook.
San Diego patissiere extraordinaire Karen Krasne, who has long been known for her extravagant, gorgeous confections, recently published “Extraordinary Cakes: Recipes for Bold and Sophisticated Desserts” (Rizzoli, $37.50).
The cookbook is “devoted to the most fanciful, beautiful and decadent cakes,” according to the press release. For example, the “New York, New York” employs chocolate ganache, devil’s food cake, chocolate chantilly, and caramelized apples. Sounds delicious, but daunting.
So what better way to tackle one of Krasne’s complex recipes than to divvy it up among friends? That’s what’s happening, said Krasne in the release: “It’s like (people are) replacing social media with social baking.”
Krasne’s cakes have so many challenging components that to make them, people tackle the individual parts (“You guys make the chocolate ganache, we’ll do the mocha pralines, they’ll do the coffee mousse …”). Then the group comes together to make a social event out of combining the sweet elements into a fantastical dessert and memorable occasion.
So if you’ve ever been cowed by a lengthy, elaborate recipe or dinner plan, this might be the way to put it together —- by enlisting the help of friends and family. Which is really what most of our favorite food experiences are about, aren’t they?