NPR logo Excerpt: 'Perfect Recipes for Having People Over'

Excerpt: 'Perfect Recipes for Having People Over'


Pam Anderson's Perfect Recipes for Having People Over is all about simple, delicious parties. Stop "entertaining," she says, and start "having people over." Bonny Wolf includes this title in her roundup of summer cookbooks.

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Shish Kebabs

Kebabs are a host's dream: Buy just a small amount each of meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables and satisfy every guest, regardless of personal preference or dietary restrictions. Those allergic to shrimp can have chicken. Those who don't eat red meat can opt for fish. Vegetarians can enjoy a colorful, sumptuous meal.

The basic formula consists of equal parts chicken, meat, and/or seafood and vegetables and/or fruits. For vegetarian kebabs, just omit the meat and increase the vegetables proportionally.

Cut the meat into slightly larger chunks than the vegetables, so they can cook together without drying out. The flavoring pastes promote browning, resulting in juicy, tender kebabs with striking grill marks.

Metal skewers with a flat blade hold the meat and vegetables in place and are the first choice for kebabs. Or thread the meat and vegetables onto two wooden skewers. If you use thin round bamboo skewers, thread the ingredients so you leave very little of the wood exposed, to prevent it from charring. Then, to prevent the food from twirling around (which would cause it to cook unevenly), use tongs to grasp as much of each skewer as possible when you turn it.

Serves 4 to 6

1 3/4 pounds boneless chicken, meat, and/or seafood, cut (except shrimp) into about 1 1/2-inch pieces

Chicken/Meat/Seafood Options:

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Pork tenderloin or pork loin (preferably from the rib end)

Beef tenderloin (filet mignon) or boneless New York strip or rib-eye steak




Extra-large shrimp (21-25 count), peeled

Italian sausage (sweet or hot), steamed until fully cooked but not browned


1 3/4 pounds vegetables and/or fruits, cut (except mushrooms) into about 1-inch chunks

Vegetable and Fruit Options:

White mushrooms, halved if large, left whole if small


Yellow squash


Bell peppers (red, yellow, and/or green)

Onions (1-inch chunks separated into pieces 2 layers thick)

Apples, cored

Pineapples, pitted and cored

Apricots, pitted

Plums, pitted

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Flavoring paste of choice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Lemon or lime wedges (optional)

Sprinkle chicken, meat, and/or seafood and vegetables and/or fruits with salt and pepper, and toss with selected flavoring paste.

Thread (or let guests thread) ingredients on eight 12-inch or six 14-inch skewers, alternating a piece of chicken/meat/seafood with every 2 vegetable/fruit pieces (unless making vegetarian kebabs), making sure not to thread too tightly. If using bamboo skewers, leave as little exposed wood as possible at both ends to keep them from charring.

About 30 minutes before serving, heat a gas grill, with all burners on high, for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a wire brush to clean grill rack, then use tongs to wipe a vegetable-oil-soaked rag over grill grate to prevent sticking. Close lid and return to temperature.

Place skewers on grill, close lid, and grill until spotty brown, about 4 minutes. Turn skewers (if using round skewers, grab as much of each kebab as possible from the side with tongs, preferably the spring-action variety, and turn decisively). Grill until spotty brown on second side and cooked through, about 2 minutes for shrimp, 3 minutes for chicken breasts and seafood, and 4 minutes for chicken thighs, pork, beef, and lamb. Transfer to a platter and let rest for a few minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and squeeze lemon wedges over, if you like.

Orange-Rosemary Paste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 teaspoons light or dark brown sugar

Curried Apple Paste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

Pineapple-Cumin Paste

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed

Jamaican Jerk-Style Paste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons red hot pepper sauce

1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed

Asian-style Paste

2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

2 teaspoons garlic powder 2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed

Moroccan-style Paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed

To make flavoring pastes:

Heat oil and herbs and/or spices in a small (8-inch) skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until herbs/spices start to sizzle. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and simmer until mixture reduces to a thick paste, 3 to 4 minutes.

Berry Bread Pudding

This unbaked, fresh-tasting summer pudding is ideal for the Fourth of July. The bread, cream, and berry juices meld, becoming soft and mousselike. You can halve the recipe and assemble in an 8- or 9-inch pan.

Serves 12

2 pounds (about 2 quarts) strawberries, hulled and quartered

3/4 pound (1 1/2 pints) blueberries

3/4 pound (1 1/2 pints) raspberries

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 quart heavy cream

1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

12 slices firm white sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch squares

Mix berries with 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow juices to form.

Whip cream to soft peaks with an electric mixer in large bowl, gradually adding remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then liqueur.

Layer the dessert in a 13-by-9-inch (or similar-size) dish: first half the bread, then half the bread the berries and half the whipped cream; repeat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Spoon the pudding into goblets or bowls and serve.

Adapted from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson. Copyright © 2006, Pam Anderson. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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Perfect Recipes For Having People Over

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