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A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty

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Set out in four chapters – stars, sides, sweets and extras (McAlpine “doesn’t do starters”) – the recipes are bookended by guides to cooking by number of guests (highlighting dishes to make at the last minute for small parties, and those to prepare in advance for large gatherings) and by timings (make-ahead menus and tips for how to store them). Alongside these beautiful, deliciously do-able recipes comes Skye’s practical, fuss-free guidance for hosting a stress-free gathering, from what to cook in advance to how to lay the table beautifully, allowing you to step out of the kitchen and relax with your guests. For a super-easy roast why not try her Honey-roast poussins, Butter-&-sage roast pumpkin, Saffron fennel, A really good chicory salad with creamy mustard dressing and Winter fruit & mascarpone tart? Or for a wonderfully soothing pasta supper, Tagliatelle with gorgonzola, pear & walnut and Chocolate chestnut meringue cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser… The recipes themselves are charmingly simple; this is unpretentious food that affords the host more time with their guests. The recipes Known for her beguiling table arrangements and rustic feasts hosted at her home in Venice, McAlpine insists there are no rules to entertaining, but instead shares suggestions (such as how to decorate the table), for home cooks to learn the basics of planning a meal, and have fun while they’re at it. The approach How to cook by timings – dishes thrown together at the last minute; dishes you can prepare up to six hours ahead / 12 hours ahead / the day before / days before

It’s a winner – a book I’ll turn to again and again, especially when friends come over’– Delicious magazine Christmas cake with glacé fruits –I promise you you’ve never seen a more sumptuous British Christmas cake. It deserves a poem or a painting. A Table for Friends has recipes for every occasion, from last-minute weeknight dinners to large celebratory gatherings. Skye’s recipes fall into four chapters, Stars, Sides, Sweets and Extras, which allow you to intuitively plan a simple and impressive menu, and, because juggling oven space is one of the biggest challenges when cooking for a crowd, each chapter is ingeniously organised into Throw Together, On The Hob and In The Oven so your menu works best for your mood, your kitchen and your time. Alongside these beautiful, deliciously do-able recipes comes Skye’s practical, fuss-free guidance for hosting a stress-free gathering, from what to cook in advance to how to lay the table beautifully, allowing you to step out of the kitchen and relax with your guests. This is a cookbook to cook from: a helpful, approachable, down-to-earth kitchen companion that will give you the confidence to gather friends around your table and the inspiration to do so more often. I don’t often trust myself to cook pasta for more than four people, because the timings are too delicate. As they say in Naples: ‘people wait for pasta, not the other way round.’ Overcooked pasta is a cook’s worst nightmare, while pasta eaten cold when it should be hot is not much better. But this recipe – like eating a bowl of sunshine – is so simple that even I can happily chat and bring it together at the same time. I prepare the sauce in advance and leave it covered on the hob, then, while the pasta is bubbling, slice the lemon, shuffle everyone to the table and assemble the dish once they are sitting down, so they eat it hot.As WISH wanders with McAlpine on a hot July day around the shady cobbled streets of Venice, the author is heading early to the canal-side fruit, vegetable and fish market in Rialto. “Food is such a source of joy in Italy, where everyone talks about what’s coming into season, what they had for lunch, what they’re cooking for dinner. It creates such a wonderful quality of life,” she muses as she shops for fresh peaches, which she will later poach in Amaretto, and pretty, sunshine-yellow zucchini flowers for dressing the top of a deceptively simple taleggio puff pastry galette.

You’ve not been able to host many parties of late and you’re dying to host some soon; I have what you need. Alongside these beautiful, deliciously do-able recipes comes Skye’s practical, fuss-free guidance for hosting a stress-free gathering, from what to cook in advance to how to lay the table beautifully, allowing you to step out of the kitchen and relax with your guests. For a super-easy roast why not try her Honey-roast poussins, Butter-&-sage roast pumpkin, Saffron fennel, A really good chicory salad with creamy mustard dressing and Winter fruit & mascarpone tart? Or for a wonderfully soothing pasta supper, Tagliatelle with gorgonzola, pear & walnut and Chocolate chestnut meringue cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.Brush the pastry edge with the egg, then line with baking parchment and baking beans. Blind-bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until dry to the touch and lightly golden at the edges. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes or so. A Table for Friends has recipes for every occasion, from last-minute weeknight dinners to large celebratory gatherings. Skye’s recipes fall into four chapters, Stars, Sides, Sweets and Extras, which allow you to intuitively plan a simple and impressive menu, and, because juggling oven space is one of the biggest challenges when cooking for a crowd, each chapter is ingeniously organised into Throw Together, On The Hob and In The Oven so your menu works best for your mood, your kitchen and your time. Combine the white chocolate, butter and sugar in a small saucepan and set over a low heat to melt. Stir regularly to stop the chocolate from catching and take the pan off the heat as soon as it is melted.

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