Uncle Smokey here with my first ever book review. Entertaining and Celebrating: An Elegant Feast for Every Season by Phoenix-area chef Kristal Damron, offered by Reward Your Appetite Catering. (Note – the highlight is an Amazon link.)


“Recapturing Elegance”

In my case it would be capturing elegance for the first time. I admit that I never could “do” elegance. When family visits for dinner, they get the pot plunked on the table with a serving spoon jabbed in it. I know I could do better, and so I was intrigued when this book came to my notice. I was delighted to discover that the slender volume is packed with ideas to celebrate the dining experience.

Instead of just getting the job of eating done, the idea is to eat slowly and savor the entire evening.

This book reminds us that good food and good company are to be savored. The meal is not something to get through before better things, it is the better thing that takes a generous amount of time to enjoy. The idea is to celebrate our time together.

The book is divided into seasons with a monthly À la Carte menu.* (see * below)

Amuse-bouche *

Menus start with an Amuse-bouche, a little teaser for the mouth, with a suggested cocktail pairing. What a fantastic idea! A little something as folks arrive and settle in for the evening. A little cocktail to get the celebration going. How about bacon wrapped Italian chestnuts with mascarpone cheese and orange zest? Paired with cognac spiced apple cider. Beats the heck out of a bowl of cocktail pretzels and some “two-buck chuck” doesn’t it?!

Wrap some steamed green beans in bacon and put them on the grill. Yum!

Honestly, I may not make the chestnuts, but some bacon wrapped anything could certainly be on the grill getting ready with alongside, or perhaps before, the main course.

First Course – Appetizers

A more solid offering, like perhaps a flank steak salad with quinnoa and a champagne vinaigrette dressing. Pair this with a classic red wine.

Thus I learned that amusing the mouth is different that appetizing the mouth, and getting the belly juices flowing.


Second Course – Entrée

How about rice, eggplant, broccoli, Cornish game hens? That’s in simple parlance – but lets make it elegant! Coconut rice, baked eggplant with marinara sauce , sauteed broccolini, roasted Cornish hens with a mushroom stuffing and a red pepper coulis. Chicken – so bring out some white wine.

I have to admit that Chef Kristal Damron has some fantastic ideas here. It will just take a little planning.


Third Course – Dessert

No, you can’t eat this first. Dessert is a flavor enhancer to top the whole evenings taste sensations and celebrations. How about some chocolate dipped strawberries with lemon whipped cream? If you prefer, a light dish of palate refreshing vanilla ice cream with home-made honey topping we mentioned a few weeks ago – here.  Teas, coffee, and a dessert wine too of course.

Five Stars                                           

The photographs are inspiring and the ideas very helpful to get me out of my rut. The book comes with a secret code so you can go to Chef Damron’s website Reward Your Appetite and download some of these rich recipes for yourself and friends to celebrate with.

* Chef Terms I Learned


An amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons but are served free and according to the chef’s selection alone. These are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse of the chef’s style. The term is French and literally means “mouth amuser,”but the term is not commonly used in France.

Honey based topping sweetens the entire evening celebration.

à la carte
Wikipedia tells us that . . . “In restaurants, à la carte is the practice of ordering individual dishes from a menu, as opposed to table d’hôte, where a set menu is offered. It is an early 19th century loan from French meaning “according to the menu.” Confusingly, the individual dishes ordered may include sides, or the sides may be offered separately, in which case, they are also considered à la carte.

In the United States and parts of Canada, the term entrée refers to the main dish or the only dish of the meal. In the rest of the world, an entrée is a dish served before the main course of a meal. Outside North America, it is generally synonymous with the terms hors d’oeuvre, appetizer or starter. It may be the first dish served, or it may follow a soup or other small dish or dishes.


savor-southwest-smokeyThis post by Uncle Smokey.

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