It was Sofia Coppola who inspired Laurent Buttazzoni to create this eclectic recipe and dining book after attending one of many fantastic Parisian dinners hosted by Buttazzoni, where chic table settings, well-chosen menus with fine and fresh ingredients, and a dedication to style and beauty combined to create wholly unique and memorable dinner parties. Diner à la Maison: A Parisian's Guide to Cooking and Entertaining at Home by Laurent Buttazzoni is a collection of 42 Parisian dinner menus, combined with photos of table settings and an introductory section that will help dinner party planners set-up the perfect evening for their guests.
The very phrase "Parisian dinner party" likely conjures up images of inaccessible meals that might as well be limited to chefs with the talent of Antoine Carême. Yet most of the recipes found in Diner à la Maison: A Parisian's Guide to Cooking and Entertaining at Home are surprisingly simple at their core; most recipes use simple techniques combined with fresh ingredients and plenty of spices, herbs and other flavors to create delicious meals worthy of a Parisian dinner. Almost all of the menus include multiple dishes, which are presented simply on the recipe pages with clear-cut ingredients and instructions.
The menus are divided into two sections: weekday and weekend plus holiday menus. Weekday menus include Caponata with soft-boiled eggs; Risotto primavera with French bean salad; and marinated chicken with Caesar salad and a strawberry and pistachio ice cream to finish. Weekend and holiday menus include slightly more complex and lengthier menus, including: leeks mimosa with vinaigrette and veal strew in tomato sauce; and a Christmas party featuring foie gras on endive leaves, oysters on the half shell, and lentils with grilled sausages.
I am not the most experienced chef, so I decided to stick with a few of the simpler menus in order to try them out. The most memorable was the marinated chicken served with Caesar salad and a strawberry and salad pistachio ice cream for dessert. The chicken is marinated with some fresh spices (including pinch of peperoncino) and pan-seared; the Caesar salad contains a unique twist of lemon juice to give it a bright acidity that works well with the pan-seared chicken; and the ice cream is (presumably, since there was no recipe!) store-bought but ingeniously combined in a scoop and topped with pistachios to give it a unique look and dual flavor. Have I made this recipe multiple times at family gatherings (note: this is referring to gatherings before stay-in-place orders were implemented) since testing it out? Yes. Do I usually end up making double the Caesar salad because it's so delicious that people eat multiple bowls? Also yes.
Not all of the recipes in Diner à la Maison: A Parisian's Guide to Cooking and Entertaining at Home by Laurent Buttazzoni are as accessible as the ones I've tried, and there are a few with ingredients that aren't readily available around here that I probably won't ever cook in my kitchen. But I do enjoy the novelty of the menus being pre-arranged and I enjoy flipping through the book to see the very eclectic Parisian-chic table settings.
I recommend Diner à la Maison: A Parisian's Guide to Cooking and Entertaining at Home by Laurent Buttazzoni for anyone looking for a unique Parisian-inspired book that offers pre-arranged menus directly inspired by the famous Buttazzoni dinner parties that inspired Sofia Coppola to request this book.
[A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher]