Easy Entertaining for Beginners by Patricia Mendez

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Maple Heights Press (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979956404
ISBN-13: 978-0979956409

Book Synopsis:

You don't have to be professional chef or nervous wreck to host great casual at-home entertaining. You will have all of your questions answered, from what to serve to what to do. Even if you have never entertained in your life, you can have a terrific time putting together a superb celebration. Included are 13 delicious complete menus with easy-to-follow recipes, full color photographs, ideas for music, activities and drinks. Checklists ease readers step-by-step through every phase of planning, preparation, and presentation. You will gain confidence and have a terrific time putting together successful celebrations. Occasions include: My First Cocktail Party, Family Fiesta, Dinner with Close Friends, Guys Night Out, My First Thanksgiving and more!

I have two true passions (besides my family) and that is reading and cooking. So, it was a pleasure to be able to ask Patricia some questions about her book.

Did you cook growing up, or is it something that you came to enjoy later in life?

I always helped my step-mother, Judy in the kitchen. Along with two other sisters, that was part of our chores. And it was a good thing because I learned a lot of good organizational habits that serve me to this day. Primarily, my cooking interest really took off when my children were young. I happen to like a lot of variety in my diet. I get bored with the same old thing. So the answer was to learn how to cook new and exciting foods. And I discovered that I really loved the whole process but especially the eating part!

Did you come from a family where entertaining was a common occurrence?

We hosted many larger family gatherings at the holidays. When my brother and sisters and I were young, we decided we wanted to throw a surprise birthday party for my step-mother. We pooled our allowance and came up with enough for a few bags of potato chips and even enough for dip! We went on the hunt for bottles to turn in for cash from the neighbors and came up with an additional drink kitty. We were so excited. We let our dad in on the secret plans and he decided to help us out a bit financially. The surprise party was a big hit with quite a bit more food for guests than just potato chips! This was my first party planning experience.

What is your inspiration when it comes to the recipes you use?

I had a set of German immigrant grandparents and a set of West Virginia-Appalachian born grandparents. Their cooking styles were as diverse as their personalities and I learned a lot about both styles. My German grandparents had a full dinner every day promptly at 11 AM followed by tea and a sweet snack in the afternoon and a simple sandwich supper in the evening. The 11 AM meal was always large and balanced and served on a beautiful table.My West Virginia grandparents were not as nearly as formal with their approach. My grandfather was a master gardener and we enjoyed a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables every year from his garden. They made lots of large pots of green beans with salt pork and cast iron skillets of cornbread. My very favorite breakfast was biscuits with “Poor Man’s” gravy.Both of these styles have influenced my cooking and entertaining greatly. Since I have become an adult and I have had a particular interest in Mexican food and have cooked many Mexican- style meals over the years. I tend to love dishes with a lot of diverse flavor.

Do you have a favorite entree? Appetizer? Soup? Drink?

Even though I don’t eat this entrée very often, my favorite is probably a filet mignon steak. It is simple, yet effective. My favorite appetizer is the Shrimp Ceviche that I feature in my book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners. It is a deceptively simple luxurious concoction of fresh crunchy veggies, cooked shrimp with zesty and piquant flavor.I am a soup lover and make it often in the winter. I love all types of soup so it is hard to narrow it down to one. Chicken Tortilla Soup (also a featured recipe in my book) has lots of layers of flavor in a satisfying broth. You serve it with toppings like cheddar cheese, avocado, cilantro, fresh-fried tortilla chips and lime. I serve it with my grandmother’s cornbread and honey butter. Talk about a diverse combination! Yum.My favorite cocktail is a Cadillac Margarita on the rocks served in a salted rimmed glass.

What is your favorite kitchen utensil?

This is really an appliance, but the winner has to be the dishwasher. Whoever invented this should have won the Nobel Peace prize!

What is your favorite tip to give a host/hostess to ensure the party is a success?

Do a few things and do those well. Beginners should concentrate on three main things when they are learning to entertain. Attention to the food, the table and the tone that they set as host will ensure enjoyable and successful casual entertaining.

What question are you asked most frequently?

The most frequent question is “What do you do about frequent latecomers to your dinner party?” That seems to be a pretty common frustration for hosts. I believe that being on time shows respect for the host and other guests and a dinner should not be held up for habitual latecomers except in an emergency. I get so many etiquette questions that I have written a free downloadable e-booklet, Party Etiquette 101 which is available for on my website to visitors who sign up for my free monthly newsletter.

What pushed you to write a book about entertaining?

I had been thinking for a year about starting classes to help novice hosts. My son, Martin and his business partner, Rene approached me after attending a birthday party I had hosted. At that party we had been conversing about how difficult it is for newlyweds and new nesters to find a resource that teaches casual entertaining designed with beginners in mind. Rene and his wife had moved into a new home and had wanted to throw a party. They had very little cooking experience and zero entertaining experience. They shared how overwhelming their internet search had been. The week after the party Martin and Rene suggested that I write a book about entertaining that could be developed into an e-book. That planted the seed and things blossomed from there.

Who has been your biggest supporter?

Without a doubt it has been my husband, Augie. He had been encouraging me for years to write a book and has been a great practical help. Plus he loves his duty of being a recipe tester.

Are you currently working on anything?

My book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners just came out on August 1. So my full-time job has been to let people know that the book is out there and available. I also write, write, write. I write articles for magazines and internet sites, content for our newsletters, new recipes and I have a blog. Right now I am walking beginners through hosting their very first dinner party on my blog. I am always testing recipes in the kitchen and also speaking/demonstrating at local events for the library (Easy Holiday Entertaining) and for women’s groups. I was a guest chef on our local cable channel for their “Community Cooking” show that will air this fall. And I am having my very first author signing at a book fair for a fundraiser for Lincoln Elementary School at the Torrance Barnes & Noble bookstore in Torrance, CA at 4 PM on Friday, November 28. I hope any readers in the area can stop by and say hi. I would love to meet you.

About the author:

Patricia Mendez teaches beginners in her cooking classes and has catered and coordinated special events since the early 1990’s. A natural teacher, she has mentored many aspiring hosts and hostesses. She lives in Southern California and when she’s not writing or teaching, she is a home chef who loves to throw fun parties.

"I belive anyone can learn how to host fantastic at-home entertaining with a bit of direction, patience and practice. You have a lot to offer and I am confident that you are able."

For more information you can visit http://www.ezentertaining.net/

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Dorothy Thompson said...

Great interview! Thank you for hosting Patricia on her virtual book tour, Zensanity! If you'd like to visit tomorrow's stop, hop on over to Divine Caroline!

Cheryl said...

I loved this book! Great recipes and party ideas. And finally someone who admits people like the basics on Thanksgiving!


Naval Langa said...

To Ms. Karen Harrington

I had first experience of meditation in OSHO Ashram at Poona, India. I do practice the same regularly.

I am a short story writer, too.

If you are interested in reading short stories and other writings by an Indian author, do visit my blogs.

Naval Langa