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Simple Stunning Parties at Home
Recipes, Ideas, and Inspirations for Creative Entertaining
By Karen Bussen
ISBN: 158479674x
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Publication date: May 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
List price: $32.50 
Type: Entertaining
Sample recipe: Creamed Spinach Royale; Mary's Lavender Panna Cotta
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Professional party-planner Karen Bussen is – for us – scaling her day job down to a manageable size, and sharing her thoughts and ideas with those who like to entertain at home but sometimes view it as overwhelming

Her approach sounds ideal: create menus featuring homemade and store-bought ingredients in fresh, manageable preparations; tailor colors, tableware, and lighting for visual impact; throw in the right mix of music; and limit effort, expense, and waste.

One section of the book details 12 complete party plans – a Latin cocktail party, a wine & cheese tasting, a holiday cocktail party, game night with a casual supper, "zen ladies' night" (including yoga and a light dinner), a global potluck, a full dinner with an herbal theme, a harvest feast, a New Year's Eve steakhouse-style dinner, a "regift exchange brunch," a panini picnic, and a backyard barbecue. The rest of the book has general suggestions for stocking the bar and pantry, choosing wine and music, decorating, a few gift ideas (for host or guest), and a list of online and traditional resources for supplies. There are also 75 recipes for drinks, hors d'oeuvres, entrees, side dishes, and desserts.

Bussen clearly has a lot of creative ideas, but when you look at them you realize they're not rocket science – you could throw these parties (and others) without killing yourself. She's just giving you a big boost.


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