Celebrity chef Dave Lieberman is back with his second cookbook, and it has the same user-friendly charm and ease that made his first recipe collection (and continue to make his Food Network cooking show) so successful. Here, in Dave's Dinners, Lieberman focuses on the preparation of delicious food using the wholesome ingredients that most of us have in our homes or, at the very least, will be able to find with minimal effort.
The recipes are divided into the traditional categories one would expect to find, including salads, soups, poultry, fish, pasta, meat and desserts. I particularly liked the first chapter entitled “Drinks and Finger Foods,” since it presents a unique view on finger food - namely, that its presentation is critical because you have less food with which to make an impact. While my definition of finger foods includes mini hot dogs and stuffed jalapeno peppers, Lieberman’s definition is a bit more advanced, ranging from mini flank steak tortillas with chipotle-lime sour cream to dry-rubbed baby back ribs.
The chapter on salads is also enticing because most of the recipes (such as Boston lettuce and avocado salad with lime dressing) sound formal but can be prepared with a few basic ingredients. The appeal of these recipes is enhanced by the fact they can be prepared with the same amount of effort that would be required to prepare a basic vinaigrette.
In another chapter, Lieberman explains his difficulty comprehending why so many chefs omit chicken or turkey from their menus since there are so many ways each can be prepared. He supports this point in the chapter dedicated to both, presenting recipes ranging from jerk chicken with banana fried rice to lemon brined turkey with sourdough bread stuffing and orange-fennel cranberry sauce. Meat lovers will also find wonderful treats such as braised hoisin short ribs with mashed yukons and sesame snow peas over Moroccan-style couscous. The pasta recipes are just as diverse, ranging from creamy lemon almond linguine to easy mushroom risotto. Lieberman also presents interesting variations on some classics treats in his chapter dedicated to desserts. I have to admit that none of the many cupcake recipes I have tested ever came close to the moistness that I achieved by making the chocolate Guinness cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.
The cookbook includes glossy photographs that are just as clear and appealing as the recipes contained in the book. Dave's Dinners will make a great addition to any cookbook collection and is appropriate for anyone who wants to serve meals that look exotic but are actually quite simple to prepare.