Entertaining 1-2-3
by Rozanne Gold

1999. 324 pages, 300 + recipes


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"If a successful dish begins with quality ingredients, so does a successful party: good food, planned with style, cooked with care."


 Chicken-Stuffed Ravioli with Fresh Sage Butter

 Swordfish Swords with Pomegranate Molasses

 Eggnog Crème Caramel

  Jasmine Rice with Edible Flowers


Entertaining 1-2-3 is available for easy online purchase right now at Amazon.com. Click the Amazon icon for current prices.

"I don't go to the museums and the theater all that often, but it's nice to know they're there when I want them." That's what a lot of New Yorkers say about the overwhelming cultural diversions that Manhattan has to offer. I feel that way about Rozanne Gold's new book Entertaining 1-2-3. I don't entertain all the time. But I'm glad Gold's book - packed with recipes, tips, and inspiration for entertaining - is there on my cookbook shelf for the times I do entertain.


Gold sums up the premise in her introduction: "Entertaining 1-2-3 is a book of ideas and menus designed to simplify (three-ingredient recipes for food and drink) and streamline (less time at the supermarket and less 'stuff' to prepare)." (See Cravings' review archives for my reviews of her previous books, Recipes 1-2-3 and Menus 1-2-3.)


I really love to entertain. I love the planning. I love the preparation. But I hate what happens half an hour before guests are due to arrive. I am suddenly aware of all I still have yet to do…and can't possibly get done in the little time I have left. I haven't washed the lettuce; I haven't found the two missing linen napkins that I need to finish setting the table for eight; I haven't scavenged my back yard to find some flowers for the centerpiece; I haven't cleaned the bathroom sink; I haven't repaired my chipped toenail polish.


When I bought Entertaining 1-2-3, I was eager to put it to the test. Could entertaining really be as easy as Gold promises it can be? I invited my niece and her new husband to go bowling and then come over for dinner afterwards….a four-course dinner no less.


I chose Gold's "Swordfish Swords" menu (except that I substituted my homemade ice cream for her dessert, halvah in syrup). Most of the courses were quick to prepare, do-ahead dishes. By the time we got back from bowling, all that needed to be done was broil the swordfish, and make the bulgur dish. Between the two dishes, it only took fifteen minutes! Amazing! I had finally become the kind of relaxed convivial hostess I had always wanted to be.

Gold is a menu planner supreme. The swordfish menu was a wonderful balancing act between contrasting tastes and textures: the richness of the swordfish complemented its tart marinade; the cool smoothness of the cucumbers and yogurt was a perfect foil for the chewy bulgur.


There is an occasioal drawback (albeit a minor one) to her menu-making orientation.. Sometimes when I have taken a dish out of its menu, the results are disappointing. One night I made the Lentil Soup with Sherry Vinegar as a quick dinner. The soup was fine, but unremarkable. It probably would have been better in consort with the menu it was meant to be part of, which included cheese-stuffed pork chops, a potato and turnip puree and sautéed cherry tomatoes, and an apple tart. On the other hand, the Chicken-Stuffed Ravioli with Fresh Sage Butter was superb on its own.

One thing's for sure, I will never be stumped for what to serve guests for dinner…or breakfast or lunch for that matter. Gold organizes her book by breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus as well as seasonal and special- occasion menus. All menus include wine suggesions. She does a lot of helpful cross referencing. She lists the recipes which are low-fat and non-fat; recipes that require less than thirty-minutes to prepare; and ten-minute dessert ideas. She pays special attention to the cocktail party including appetizer and drink recipes and other helpful bits of advice.


Recently my friend Carmen called me in a panic. "I've got these out-of-town friends coming for dinner tomorrow night and I still don't know what to make. I'm sitting here going through cookbooks and everything that looks good looks like it's too much work." I told her not to worry, that I had the solution to her dilemma, and headed to her rescue with Entertaining 1-2-3. The next day Carmen reported that the evening was a success, the food was delicious, and she was on her way out to buy her own copy of Entertaining 1-2-3.