With Celenza's trusty menu log, you could easily host a year's worth of weekly dinner parties.
Designed for the "professional home chef" (the author expects readers to know how to boil water and whip an egg white), Celenza has assembled 52 complete dinners with coordinated menus for six–-from appetizers to desserts. A practical cookbook on slick paper (with smallish print and eight pages of photos tucked in the middle), it features an excellent index, sorted according to ingredients, name of the dish, main ingredient, and occasion. It's easy to linger over these social dinners created for people who enjoy cooking (and eating) in the relaxed style one sees in Italy–-indeed, the meal is the whole evening's entertainment. This explains the enormous menus–-this one, for example: cock-a-leekie soup, rice pilaf with skillet chicken, scallops in garlic sauce, Caesar salad, toasted cheese shrimp boat with deviled egg, and cranberry meringue cake. One might quibble with suggestions such as roast chicken for summer kitchens, but overall, the choices seem tempting: comfort foods (potato croquette and veal cordon bleu with mushroom gravy) in the fall and winter and fresh fruits and vegetables (bacon-wrapped lamb chops and asparagus with lemon) in the spring and summer. Many Ã la carte dishes would also make excellent lunch fare. Bonus sections include three lavish party menus, plus recipes for brunch, sandwiches, buffets, hor d'oeuvres, cakes, pies, and cookies. Celenza makes no concession to popular diets, but the foods suggested are wholesome and healthfully prepared.
Caveat: Having pored over this excellent window into a tempting way of life (and cooking), the urge to entertain may be overwhelming.