With the holiday season nearing, now is the perfect time to plan—before things get too hectic. Want to know what to prepare for a dinner party? How about Crostini With Herb Butter, Creamy Asparagus and Mushroom Soup, Smoked Salmon Salad and Crème Fraîche, Beef Tenderloin With Green Peppercorn Cognac Sauce, Sesame Broccoli, and Chocolate Peppermint Soufflés. Is comfort food more your style? Try Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup, Tossed Cobb Salad, Fried Catfish, Cheese Pie, and Buttermilk Pie. The Junior League of Austin’s newest cookbook, Austin Entertains, provides recipes and tips for myraid occasions, from formal affairs to small get-togethers.
Each chapter is color-coded to corresponding pages, making the book easy to navigate. Austin Entertains begins with a short intro describing Austin, how it is different than other Texas cities, more laid-back: “Austinites still embrace the offbeat, remain environmentally attuned, and pursue what is ‘cool’ like residents in no other Texas city.” The first chapter discusses the League’s major fundraiser, “A Christmas Affair,” which is a five-day event showcasing more than 150 merchants from around the country. A menu for the occasion follows. The subsequent chapters each open with a beautiful photo and a brief overview of topics with an Austin spin—the fundraiser, the holidays, the music scene, winemaking in the Hill Country, the performing arts, the outdoors, the Latin influence, the film industry, UT football, museums and fine art, nature, fitness, politics, kids, and local chefs—and continues with an apropos menu (and recipes) for the theme.
Of course, chapters are filled with helpful hints and definitions: “Tea sandwiches are traditionally dainty sandwiches served on thinly sliced bread, sometimes open-faced, and always presented in a most appealing way.” In the nature section, called “Wild about Wildflowers,” the meal is designed for an afternoon party in your garden. Here’s a look at the suggested menu:
Beverage: Mint Tea
Soup: Minted Green Pea and Spinach Soup
Salads: Fresh Fruit Toss, Mushrooms With Asparagus and Greens, Seafood Pasta Salad, Wild Tuna Salad
Entrées: Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts in Puff Pastry, Molasses-Glazed Salmon With Black Mustard Seed Vinaigrette, Sauté of Soft-Shelled Crabs With Wilted Spinach and Warm Tomato Vinaigrette, Crab Strudel, Swiss Tarts
Side Dish: Artichoke Bottoms With Spinach Stuffing
Desserts: Lime Mousse, Frozen White Chocolate Terrine, Chocolate Raspberry Cake à la Simca
The closing chapter provides recipes for select dishes created by some of the top chefs in Austin, including Jeff Blank’s Ancho Bock Beer Smashed Potatoes (Hudson’s on the Bend), David Garrido’s Pistachio Cookies (Jeffrey’s), and Peter O’Brien’s Chilled Tomato Soup (Si Bon). Happy holidays!