What can I say, the title of this one says it all, but like most of the cookbooks I own, this one has a great story (and store!) behind it…
You all know bookstores and the local library have helped me become a mostly self-taught cook. Another HUGE influence guiding me to become the cook I am today is the Williams Sonoma store in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They offer free cooking classes which I have attended religiously for many years. Every time I go to the mall for any reason, I walk into that store (my own “happy place”) and am greeted by a group of the most amazing people I have ever encountered in a retail store anywhere. What can I say “I LOVE THAT STORE and THE PEOPLE in it!” They all know and love cooking and are always eager to talk about great products, books, and recipes.
One day, years ago, I walked into Williams Sonoma and was greeted by Sandy Carroll my “cooking hero” and the woman who taught many of the cooking classes I attended at that store. This woman is smart, funny, Food Network worthy, and single-handedly responsible for helping me pull off my very first Thanksgiving dinner (which I now host every year). For that and so many other reasons, I will forever be grateful to her. She has taught me so much and is, for me, the inspiration for the kind of cook I really wanted to be – she’s a role model for me to this day.
Sandy was hosting a class one night at the store and we got talking about her classes, cookbooks, and our favorite recipes. She mentioned that she recently found an older book that was excellent called Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson. When Sandy tells you something is good, IT IS GOOD!!!! As I often do, I checked this book out of the library and discovered that the author is a long-time test cook for Cook’s Illustrated.
The first thing I made was the Molten Chocolate Cakes With Sugar-Coated Raspberries. These pretty little cakes have 5 ingredients, cook in less than 10 minutes, and can be made mostly ahead of time — just slip them into the oven right before you are ready to serve dessert. I could stop here if I wanted because it doesn’t get much better than that, but I won’t, because I have to tell you that this dessert is delicious, and impressive, and looks like something you would get only in a restaurant. The outside edges are cooked but the inside has a rich
Several weeks ago, I delivered dinner to my good friend’s family. I had been cooking for them for several months, delivering a meal each day my friend received her chemotherapy. I wanted to give her something to look forward to on a tough day, and a good meal to eat before she started feeling horrible. We had finally made it to the last day of chemo and I felt that this last dinner was worthy of an extra special dessert to mark the big event. There was no question in my mind, I knew immediately that these Molten Lava Cakes were
I delivered these cakes along with dinner to their home, and in less than an hour I got a call from my friend’s 18-year-old son telling me how much he LOVED this dessert, how GOOD it was, and thanked me at least 3 times on the call. OKAY! – for those of you who do not have teenage boys, THIS IS BIG! – should I say HUGE! For a teenager to call his best friend’s MOM to personally thank her again, people…that does not happen every day.
When I hung up the phone my happy heart knew that this recipe was special and needed to be included in my LoveThisCookbook blog. The only question was when to share it. Then it occurred to me, Valentine’s Day was the perfect day to tell this story, and better yet, share this amazingly rich chocolate recipe with you. Making this recipe for anyone will show your love and affection.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Please give this one a try – it will not disappoint.
Bloggers note: This cookbook is from 2005 so if you are interested in buying it, you are likely going to have to find it used – but it is out there. I got mine for only $8.
I enjoyed reading your post on the molten cakes and Pam Anderson cook book. I’m wondering if there was a dinner combo from this cook book you liked. Does the book put together menus or just dishes?
Thanks for your questions The book does not put together complete dinner menus mainly just recipes in different sections salads, meals, deserts etc. It is on the shelf at the East Grand Rapids Public Library you should check it out.
Hi there. I love your site. How can I get ahold of you? I was at your Thanksgiving class last week at WS. Please email me…thanks.