15 June 2019

Weekend Cooking: Tasting Table by Geoff Bartakovics and Todd Coleman

Review of Tasting Table Cooking with Friends CookbookHave you heard of the Tasting Table website? I hadn't until I received a copy of their new cookbook Tasting Table Cooking with Friends by Geoff Bartakovics and Todd Coleman (Flatiron, May 7) to review.

The book is organized by menus that will take you through the seasons and help you celebrate the every day as well the holidays and special events. The idea is that each guest can bring a different dish to the party or you and your friends can cook together in the same space.

As the authors say, the "dishes [within a specific menu] don't require the same tools or appliances at the same time," which makes sharing the kitchen with others easy. Of course, you as the host could make all the food yourself. It just depends on your skills and comfort with team-tag cooking.

Each menu includes adult beverages, appetizers, sides, a main, and a dessert. The introduction to each menu indicates the size of the dinner party, which varies from 6 to 10 guests (I think). To make it even easier to accommodate cooks of different experience, each recipe comes with a skill level rating, so you can assign dishes without stressing anyone out.

Review of Tasting Table Cooking with Friends CookbookI've made several of the recipes from Tasting Table and all came out just fine, and I'm looking forward to trying them again. We made the pan bagnat (see scan from the book; with olive tapenade, pepperoncini, and tuna), we ate Mediterranean chickpea pasta salad for lunches (yum), made rye-thyme lemonade (so refreshing), served baked oatmeal with blackberries for Mother's Day (we used blueberries), and gobbled up the slow-cooked Filipino adobo (pork, sesame oil, garlic).

Several more recipes are marked to try, like grilled chicken thighs in green sauce, chocolate cardamom cake, and chorizo nachos.

As you might have noticed, I've mentioned specific dishes, not menus. That's because I'm not a good match for menu cookbooks. I own quite a few of these cookbooks, but I rarely actually make the suggested dinners from appetizers to desserts. On the other hand, I've discovered many a dish that I've served over and over from such cookbooks.

If you're unsure of what to serve with what, a cookbook like Tasting Table could be a godsend. It could also come in handy for family gatherings, reunions with good friends, and at shared vacation rentals.

Review of Tasting Table Cooking with Friends CookbookThe menus range from drinks and snacks to cookouts, dinner and a movie, festive feasts, and formal occasions. The recipes are fresh and reflect new millennium tastes (as the subtitle implies: "Recipes for Modern Entertaining"), but be warned that the dinners are meat heavy. Only one menu is specifically for vegetarians, though each one does include vegetable dishes.

For an idea of what the Tasting Table is all about, you can check out their website. My strong recommendation is to find a copy Tasting Table by Geoff Bartakovics and Todd Coleman at your library. I'm very happy to own the cookbook because I've had great success with the recipes, but I'm not quite sure a menu cookbook is for everyone.

When I served the following recipe to Mr. BFR, he tasted it and then said, "This salad is spring in a bowl." I couldn't agree more.

Crispy Snow Peas with Radishes, Feta, and Tahini Dressing
Serves 6 to 8
Skill level 2

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • Kosher salt and finely ground black peper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed, and halved
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled 
In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, honey, garlic, 1 tablespoon water, and season with salt and pepper. While whisking, drizzle in the oil and whisk to combine.

Add the snow peas, radishes, and scallions to the bowl with the tahini dressing. Toss to coat. Add the feta cheese and gently mix to combine. Serve.

NOTE: Scans and recipe are used in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holders.
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rhapsodyinbooks 6/15/19, 6:04 AM  

Oooh, pan bagnat is a favorite of mine! And the idea of this cookbook is great - sounds like I need to get a copy!

Mae Travels 6/15/19, 6:32 AM  

Your review makes me realize that those menu-oriented cookbooks have always puzzled me. The circumstances when you would want the exact menu seem so unlikely -- you would need the right amount of time, the right-sized guest list, and have to like all the dishes on the menu. And maybe you wouldn't have time for so many complicated things. You make me think I'm not a minority opinion! I do like it when cookbooks have an appendix with a few suggested menus based on the recipes, though.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Jackie McGuinness 6/15/19, 7:30 AM  

Going to check out the website!

bermudaonion 6/15/19, 7:48 AM  

We rarely eat appetizers and/or dessert so I don't usually buy menu cookbooks either. The recipes you mentioned sound so tempting, though, I think I'll see if our library has this.

Peaceful Reader 6/16/19, 12:29 PM  

So delicious! I love snow peas. I like menu-inspired cookbooks; you don't have to follow but can pick and choose yet if the need arises it is great for inspiration. I have a Friendsgiving cookbook that is set up this way.

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