Dish Entertains: Everyday Simple to Special to Special Occasions.


248 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 978-0-00-200772-6
DDC 642'.4




Photos by Brandon Barré
Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



This elegant book would be more at home on the coffee table than the kitchen counter. With its stylishly delicate type font, large format, and over 100 colour photos—of which 67 are full-page impressionistic shots—it leans more to contemplative inspiration than the splash and splatter of a hands-on environment. Yet there’s a generous serving of 120 recipes, divided approximately equally between those intended for everyday family meals and those with the special touches usually reserved for entertainment events.

The tone is upscale, with an emphasis on the very best, usually pricey, ingredients, and on presentation. While sidebars suggest some substitutions, the full impact of most of the recipes depends on either expensive items such as lobster and imported cheeses or on ingredients which may be hard to find outside a large city. These include, for example, Maldon sea salt, cassis, daikon, and kaffir lime leaves. For most of the recipes basic cooking knowledge will suffice. Some even use store-bought products—pizza dough, mayo, ketchup—and dress them up. There are, however, occasional calls for more advanced skills, which the author describes as “fundamental restaurant techniques.” For those who don’t run a restaurant, these may be daunting.

The recipes are trendy, with liberal use of those must-have cooking clichés, pesto, grape seed oil, balsamic vinegar, and pine nuts. There’s also a leaning to liberal use of strong, hot flavours such as chili sauce, jalapenos, red onion, chipotles, even Scotch bonnets. Not for the timid.

Recipe groupings include hors d’oeuvres, soups, mains, salads, sides, and desserts. Measurements are given in both imperial and metric. The absence of nutritional information might be understandable for the special occasion treats but not for the everyday selections. Style triumphs over practicality.


Magwood, Trish., “Dish Entertains: Everyday Simple to Special to Special Occasions.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024,