24 September 2010

Back to Basics | Abby Dodge Shares Dessert Magic in 4 Ingredients

Desserts 4 Today ($17.95, 188 pages)
Wow! Take a look at that photo. Are you salivating?...if not yet, we promise you WILL be ;-)

We have been test-driving the simple, yet ever-so-delicious ideas from Abigail Johnson Dodge in her latest culinary creation, Desserts 4 Today.

And we're ready to RAVE about her recipes.

First, an admission.  From the albeit limited virtual interactions we've had, we already find Abby to be a savvy host in her own right.  She's approachable and engaging. She's enthusiastic and willing to share secrets to success from her kitchen.  Her motto? Baking the world a better place one recipe at a time. (And, we ask you...so far...what's not to like?)

She invested time into learning more about HER entertaining priorities - in her case this included studying in Paris at La Varenne and refining her passion under Guy Savoy!  She's a  regular contributor to both Bon Appetit and Fine Cooking magazines - where we first discovered her talent and decided we needed to get better acquainted :-)

The premise for this latest release - flavorful desserts with just four ingredients - is simple - straightforward - and perfect aligned with our notion of what to serve at a Good Food Gathering (see NOTE below).

Abby focuses on Flavor - and allows your personal style and tastes to shine through by encouraging readers to be adventurous - to try variations in her section "Switch-Ins" in each recipe.

She suggests ways to "Gussy It Up" for each recipe - perfect to maximize the serving savoir-faire for each dish.

We also enjoyed - 
  • 4 simple steps to success with each recipe
  • 4 other reminders (no tricks to this...her fourth reminder is simply to Have fun!)
  • key items to have on hand in your pantry, and 
  • (a favorite part) Top 10 Equipment Essentials followed by Top 10 Small, Inexpensive Gadgets Worth Having.  

(No need to remind readers how much we LOVE new MUST-haves for our cooking ;-)

What did we try in our test kitchen?  Here are four of the 125 recipes we checked out (with delicious results) along with a few comments:
  • Raspberry Peach Sugar Puffs - we're not good with puff pastry, but Abby made these puffs easy to follow - easy to achieve - and they were a HIT with our guests that evening (and low on anxiety for The Savvy Host).
  • Maple Sugar Tile Cookies  - a twist on a traditional accompaniment to our coffee break, the Staff so enjoyed these that they offered to make the next batch ;-)
  • Toasted Pistachio Crisps - typically an almond fan, and despite the "Switch-Ins" suggestion to substitute almonds, we're flavor-cruising with our new BFF pistachios thanks to these snappy crisps.
  • Raspberry-White Chocolate Tart - we did opt to substitute mixed berries in this...and can imagine so many other fruit combinations that could be enjoyed with this simply delicious and elegant dessert.  Such a beautiful end for a good food gathering.  Please do think to invite us along if you decide to work this into your entertaining ;-)
All-in-all, this is a perfect savvy resource addition to your entertaining repertoire.  And, possibly should be on your list as the perfect gift for any savvy host you know.  

Please consider this an invitation to get to know Abby via her website or via Twitter - @AbbyDodge.  She's one savvy host we'll be following and learning from for a long time to come!

Now, it's the weekend...so we're off to our kitchen to whip up and enjoy a few new 4 ingredient results ... please don't mind our crumbs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

NOTE: What's a Good Food Gathering?  This is entertaining at it's most basic - providing good food, offering something to wet the whistle, but most importantly, allowing the time to share laughs, ideas, stories and life with those who have joined at our table. For this type of entertaining, we look for those recipes that emphasize fresh, seasonal ingredients - straightforward preparation - and interesting flavor combinations from different cuisines.

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