Hayley & Bill have done it again! Their latest cookbook, Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining, contains stunningly beautiful photographs and recipes for year round entertaining. You’ll find 17 complete menus and more than 200 grain-free, mostly dairy-free, whole foods recipes, divided by season and theme. Gather includes remakes of family favorite and classic dishes as well as recipes from some of the world’s most popular cuisines. Some of the menus focus on holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Easter, and New Year’s Eve. Others focus on a particular cuisine, such as A Taste of Cuba, Chinese Take-Out Fake Out, and A Night in Tuscany. The Spooky Supper and Birthday Celebration are especially kid-friendly and sound really fun.
In addition to recipes, you’ll find planning and prep tips, great ideas for table decor, and ways to use the season’s freshest ingredients. Imagine Martha Stewart going paleo and scaling back on the frills. Whether you want to make the complete menus for family or company or you want to explore individual recipes for everyday cooking, as I did, you’ll find plenty to like about this new book.
Gather opens with a quote from Julia Child that conveys Hayley and Bill’s food philosophy, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces–––just good food from fresh ingredients.” And that’s what they do!
The couple developed the recipes together, then cooked, styled, and photographed them together, proving that the skills required to be a great landscape architect and high definition make up artist transfer well to the kitchen and the dining room. Following on the success of their first book, Make it Paleo, the author’s continue to share their love of food, health, cooking, photography, and life.
I’ve made four recipes from Gather so far. I found the instructions clear and concise. One recipe I actually made twice, it was that good! My favorites were the Sweet and Tangy Venison Meatballs, the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Herb Crackers, and the Grilled Balsamic Vegetables.
I found the ground venison I needed at my local Sprouts Market. I found it mild and delicious. (Because it was farm raised, higher in fat than wild venison, I left out the added fat in the recipe.) Initially I was skeptical about the recipe because it was so simple––no herbs or spices beyond a small amount of garlic and shallots. Nevermind! When they came out of the toaster oven I ate a test piece without any sauce and loved it!
Since I wasn’t expecting company, I enjoyed the meatballs as an entrée rather than an appetizer. I liked the tangy flavor of the barbecue sauce against the bold flavor of the meat. I served the dish with blanched vegetables twice and froze the rest. (Note: If you plan to bake the meatballs in a toaster oven, you can cut the cooking time back by about 10 minutes. They’ll cook fast so close to the heatsource.)
Since I don’t currently have a grill, I improvised and roasted the Balsamic Vegetables in a 450 degree F oven, something I’ve done many times before. I roast vegetables often and love adding them to salads, which I did with these.
The show stopper was the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Herb Crackers. Made from soaked, raw cashews, the dip has the texture of the classic sour cream-based spread sans dairy. I made a half batch for myself several weeks ago, then made a full batch last week for a cooking party with six women who could not get over how delicious it was. The crackers were also a huge hit. I would have posted a picture but my night time photography skills need a lot of work. My photos just didn’t do the recipe justice.
I want to get a few friends together to make the Chinese Takeout Fake-Out Menu. It looks incredibly delicious and creative. I’ve flagged other recipes I want to try when I have company or for the holidays.
If you’re looking for guidance and inspiration in making exquisitely beautiful special occasion meals for company using from market fresh foods that fit with the paleo and primal diet style or you want a great gift for food loving friends or family, this hard copy, full-color book would be a great choice. Whatever you do, you’ll want to leave this book out on a coffee table when you’re expecting guests, so they can peruse it.