Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Party for Two

Perhaps it was our recent twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, or maybe the renewed efforts to resurrect date night, but the offer of a review copy of Party for Two by Bruce Cadle caught my eye. With two high school seniors and a third daughter away at college, my husband and I seem to be eating more dinners alone and this sounded like a cookbook that would be useful for preparing smaller, more intimate dinners.

I quickly discovered Party for Two is not just a basic cookbook. It also offers the author's recipe for a strong marriage. Bruce Cadle is a food writer, seminar speaker, and pastor. At the foundation of his own thirty-five year marriage, is an ongoing commitment to Friday date night. Bruce and his wife Valerie make cooking a special meal and spending time together a priority.

Part One of Party for Two features practical advice for couples interested in starting their own date night tradition. It begins with the whys and hows of logistics (especially helpful for those with young children), discusses basic pantry supplies, stresses preparation and planning, and ends with tips on plating and presentation.

Recipes take center stage in Part Two with sections devoted to:
  • sauces, vinaigrettes & dressings
  • appetizers
  • salads
  • entrees
  • pizzas & paninis
  • vegetables
  • desserts

To give the book a more personal feel, most recipes begin with a story or anecdote. However, the lack of photographs proved to be a major drawback. Readers are directed to the website ( for photos, videos, and tips, but I definitely prefer pictures in my cookbooks.

Our winter date nights often involve a favorite local restaurant, but as the weather gets warmer (and it's bound to soon) we'll be cooking and eating almost exclusively home. There is nothing better than a delicious meal outdoors by the lake. I can't wait to try the Grilled Brie, Japanese Radish Salad, Smoked Salmon Martini (pictured on the cover), and Chardonnay Chicken with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto.

Source:  review copy.

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.


  1. Sounds like terrific inspiration. We've discovered that not having a child to scrutinize anything with colour on the plate has led to much nicer dinners!

  2. As you know, I'm all for photos too. I don't want to have to have my computer on and in kitchen when I have sticky hands and am juggling pots and pans.

    We too love eating on the deck in the summer and pretty much never eat indoors from the first warmish evenings until the cold finally drives us in. (We have the porch for rainy days.)

    Tell me what I can bring when I come over for dinner -- any of the dishes you listed are fine with me. LOL.

  3. hmmm...the lack of photos would be an issue for me too I am afraid.

  4. My daughter started college this year, and I am still adjusting to only cooking for two...It was a shock to me how much less food I buy with just one less person in the house :)

    I very much prefer my cookbooks to have photos, so I think this might be one that I would get from the library rather than purchase.

  5. I like photos too, but I love the idea of the cookbook, and the grilled brie just has my mouth watering!

  6. I'm another one who wants lots of photos in the cookbook. It's almost hard to start cooking for two when you're used to cooking for a family. TBG and I have been much more adventurous with dinners since the kids moved out. Happy date nights! ;-)

  7. I strongly support the basic premise of this book. A strong marriage is built on keeping the basic relationship fresh. It's hard to do that if there is no time to talk to each other. I applaud the book as well as you and your husband.

  8. This sounds like a pretty good cookbook despite the lack of photos. We love eating outside also and do it as often as we can.

  9. This looks like a really good book and fun too! I can't wait to have meals outside. Hopefully Spring will visit us here in Michigan soon!

  10. What a clever idea! We're (still) only two as well, and sometimes I get tired of converting recipes that cater to 4 or more people. Adding to my wishlist now!

  11. Darlene - I'm getting a lot more adventurous in my cooking, too. Not having small children makes a big difference!

    Beth F - It's still too cold to eat outside here, but we did have appetizers by the lake last night.

    Caite - Photos add so much to a cookbook's overall appeal. The website wasn't quite enough for me.

    TheBookGirl - When my oldest first left for college, buying groceries became more of a challenge. Seems like I always had too much or too little for the first few months.

    Rhapsodyinbooks - The grilled brie had my mouth watering, too. Perhaps another Weekend Cooking post when I do try it...

    Kaye - Thanks! My kids have gotten a little more adventurous over the years. Sometimes they even encourage me to try new recipes... my goal is 1 new recipe per week.

    Margot - I agree 100%! A few years ago, we realized that almost all of our time together was spent at the kids sporting events - up to 5 nights a week in the summer! That's when we decided to bring back date night... so glad we did.

    Marie - Yes, even without photos it's a good cookbook. Can't wait to eat outside again!

    Diann - I think our weather here in central NY is a lot like Michigan...they say a warm-up is coming, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

    Chinoiseries - Sounds like this would be a good book for you, too!

  12. date night is a marriage saver. When the kids were littler, we used to go our together for lunch. It was so much easier than trying to find a babysitter. Now we'll go out and get a cofffee and browse the book store. Then in the summer it's camping time, whether with the kids or not.

  13. Oh! Happy anniversary! That book looks like fun for planning date nights. My husband and I have "date morning," when we go to breakfast every Friday morning. :-)

  14. Happy Anniversary! This cookbook sounds good but I really do like pictures in my cookbooks as well. That's usually what prompts me to make something. I can't wait to cook outdoors!

  15. Sounds like a good cookbook. The lack of photos wouldn't really bother me, since half the time my food looks no where as nice as the pictures anyway.

    I have the bad habit of serving leftovers whenever it's just me and my husband. I should try making it into a "date" meal, even if it is at home.

  16. Heather - I agree! We used to have lunch together when the kids were younger, too.

    Marie - Thanks! I love going out for breakfast, but our schedules rarely allow for it :-(

    Darlene - Pictures are really important to me, too. I will look these up on the website to see what they're supposed to look like though.

    Carol - LOL, so true! My finished product often doesn't look as good as the photos either. Our leftovers seem to get used for lunches.

  17. I like the sound of this cookbook, especially because we're about 2.5 years away from it just being the two of us. But like you I want photos in my cookbooks!!

  18. Staci - Yes, pictures add a lot to a cookbook. Looks like we will avoid the empty nest for at least another year. Twin B has decided to go to a college nearby and live at home (for another year anyway).

  19. The best part of a cookbook is the pictures - I am not sure I would be very interested in the recipes without the enticing images. Although the mix of anecdotes with the recipes does sound interesting.

  20. Booksnyc - I know I'll use this cookbook, but doubt I would have been enticed to purchase it in the store... gotta have those pictures :-)


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