Paris-trained Nicole Aloni offers help for every aspect of party planning from weddings to barbecues, from invitations to centerpieces to table settings and cooking utensils. Extensive menu plans include timelines and organizing suggestions, skill levels and presentation ideas. She provides advice on incorporating ready-made foods and utilizing outside services. There are lists and lists and tips on making your own lists.
With all this detailed and inspiring advice, Aloni doesn't even get to the 150 recipes until halfway through the book. From hors d'ouevres to dessert, each recipe is prefaced with serving suggestions and symbols indicating various factors, including complexity, price, do-ahead, last minute prep and more. Many also offer variations and leftovers ideas.
Aloni's world view includes substantial spectaculars like Carpaccio, Rack of Lamb with Tapenade, Tandoori Flavored Chicken, Shrimp Ravioli with Saffron Cream Sauce, Mushroom Strudel; familiar dishes like Baba Gannoush, Grilled Scallops with Bacon, Gravlax, Herb Garlic Crostini; lots of less familiar ideas like Porcini Broth with Creamy Polenta, Balinese Dumplings, Fish Tacos, and tweaked recipes like Chicken Liver Pate with Cherries and Pecans, Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Gorgonzola, Pear and Potato Gratin with Horseradish. There are side dishes - Spinach with Black Bean Sauce, Creamy Chard with Feta, several varieties of mashed potatoes and a short chapter of spectacular desserts: Coconut Mango Crème Brulee, Cappuccino Tart.
Aloni likes to play with recipes and presentations and offers adventurous cooks the benefits of her experience. Her book is full of ideas to wow guests or wile away an afternoon as an armchair party-planner.