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James Beard's Menus for Entertaining

James Beard's Menus for Entertaining

by James Beard

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Culinary master James Beard’s ultimate guide to entertaining is a must for any host or hostess

Expert chef James Beard was passionate about food and even more passionate about entertaining. Beard’s cookbooks, with recipes that have delighted for decades—such as duck glazed with honey and curry, and zucchini frittata—have long been a staple in the culinary libraries of home cooks. This thorough guide combines Beard’s delicious menus with his expertise on hosting any event from an intimate dinner party to a much larger gathering.
The indispensable tips and advice in James Beard’s Menus for Entertaining make anything from a lavish champagne breakfast to a festive beach picnic easy for the host and unforgettable for the guests. In addition to his scrumptious tried-and-true recipes, Beard also offers guidance on pairing the perfect wines, liqueurs, and aperitifs to round out your meal. Featuring more than 100 menus, 600 dishes, and Beard’s wisdom on everything from planning to plating, Menus for Entertaining will make your next event a delectable success.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504004589
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 396
Sales rank: 633,598
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

James Beard (1903–1985) was an American cookbook author, syndicated columnist, teacher, and television personality. Designated the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times, Beard laid the foundations for generations of amateur and professional food enthusiasts. After publishing his first cookbook in 1940, Beard went on to host the NBC cooking show I Love to Eat. In 1955 he founded the James Beard Cooking School, where he taught for many years. Over the course of his career, Beard wrote countless cookbooks, including several seminal works, and he inspired and influenced chefs throughout the world. His legacy lives on through the James Beard Foundation, established in his honor to provide scholarships and awards recognizing excellence in the culinary arts.
James Beard (1903­–1985) was an American cookbook author, syndicated columnist, teacher, and television personality. Designated the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times, Beard laid the foundations for generations of amateur and professional food enthusiasts. After publishing his first cookbook in 1940, Beard went on to host the NBC cooking show I Love to Eat. In 1955 he founded the James Beard Cooking School, where he taught for many years. Over the course of his career, Beard wrote countless cookbooks, including several seminal works, and he inspired and influenced chefs throughout the world. His legacy lives on through the James Beard Foundation, established in his honor to provide scholarships and awards recognizing excellence in the culinary arts.  

Read an Excerpt

James Beard's Menus for Entertaining

By James Beard


Copyright © 1965 James Beard
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-0458-9



Early Breakfast

Entertaining at early breakfast usually means overnight guests — unless you happen to be catching a friend on the wing, between planes; or you happen to be one of those extraordinarily busy people who must do business or entertain from the crack of dawn on through the day. Actually, a business breakfast makes a nice change from the usual, hurried luncheon.

At no time are people's eating habits more fixed and less creative than in the early morning. Gauge your guests' appetites carefully: If you are faced with a "continental breakfast" appetite, at least find the best rolls and bread available and an interesting marmalade or preserve. If you think your guests might be afraid to stray too far from the bacon-and-eggs routine, try variations on these standards to give the meal a lift; offer a soufflé, or quiche, or a good omelet.

Here is a trio of menus for the early hours that are somewhat off-beat.

Three Light Breakfasts


Melon with Prosciutto
Crisply Toasted French Bread
Butter Marmalade

Melon with Prosciutto

Use any available ripe melon. Peel and cut into rather thin strips — 3 or 4 to a portion. Arrange on a plate with 2 or 3 slices of prosciutto over the melon, and serve with a wedge of lime or lemon. Have the pepper grinder handy.

NOTE: Westphalian or Smithfield ham may be used instead of prosciutto.


Hot Fruit Compote — Heavy Cream
Freshly Baked Brioche

Hot Fruit Compote

Prepare a simple syrup, combining 1 part sugar, 2 parts water, and vanilla to taste. Boil 5 minutes. Add mixed fresh (or dried) fruits: apricots, prunes, figs, peaches or pears. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until tender. Serve with heavy cream.

Freshly Baked Brioche

See p. 344.


Sautéed Mushrooms on Toast
Bacon Strips
Fresh Coffee Cake Butter

Sautéed Mushrooms on Toast

6 tablespoons butter
1½ pounds mushrooms (small caps)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash Worcestershire
Buttered toast, as needed
Chopped chives and parsley

Melt butter in a heavy skillet, add the mushrooms, and sauté over medium heat. Stir, and shake the pan from time to time. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned and still firm. Do not overcook. Add seasonings.

Serve on buttered toast with chopped herbs and crisp bacon.

Coffee Cake

You may use a coffee cake from a good bakery, if you wish, but if you prefer to do your own, try this quick version.

1½ cups less 2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mace
½ cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter and sugar for topping

Sift dry ingredients together. Combine with egg, milk and melted butter. Beat until smooth. Pour into a buttered 8- by 8-inch pan. Dot with butter that has been rolled in sugar, and sprinkle additional sugar over the top. Dust with mace or cinnamon. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until brown and puffy. Serve hot.

Four Hearty Breakfasts


Trout Sauté Meunière Hash Browns
Thin Crisp Toast Lemon Marmalade


Choose ripe berries. There is only one sure way of getting sweet ones: sample one in the market. Wash the berries lightly, and drain. (One great food authority once said strawberries should never be washed with water — only wine!) Serve with the hulls on, with a mound of powdered sugar in each plate. Also pass heavy cream or sour cream for dipping.

Trout Sauté Meunière

For 4 trout, melt 4 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil in heavy skillet. Dust trout well with flour. Sauté gently, turning several times until fish is cooked through but not overcooked, allowing 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Flesh should be moist but easily flaked with a fork or toothpick. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon.

Serves 4.

Hash Browns

See p. 356.


Sliced Ripe Tomatoes
Broiled Flank Steak
Crisp Protein Toast Butter

Sliced Ripe Tomatoes

Scald tomatoes, or sear over a gas flame, to loosen skin. Peel, and slice thin. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Broiled Flank Steak

You will need a steak of top quality for this. Rub steak well with salt, ground black pepper and Tabasco. Broil steak 1½ to 2 inches from the broiling unit (allowing for shrinkage and thickening) 3 to 4 minutes on each side for rare. Carve into thin slices, holding the knife at an angle of 45° or less. The diagonal slicing is essential for tenderness.

A flank steak of medium size will serve 3 to 4 people.


Grapefruit Sections
Sautéed Squab Chickens
Fried Cornmeal Mush
Butter Honey Apple Butter

Grapefruit Sections

Peel grapefruit so that white skin is completely removed. With a sharp knife, a small pointed one preferably, slice and remove each section. Dress with sugar. Add a little champagne or sherry if you wish.

Sautéed Squab Chickens

These generally weigh about 1 pound and are sold split. You decide whether you wish to serve a whole one or a half per person.

For 4 small chickens, heat 4 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in each of 2 large skillets. When the butter and oil are hot and bubbly, arrange the chickens, skin side down, in the pans, and brown nicely. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, turn and continue cooking over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn again, and test for tenderness. They should take 18 to 20 minutes. Remove to hot platter. Rinse the pan with ¼ cup cognac or Madeira, and add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Pour over chicken halves.

Serves 4 to 8.

Fried Cornmeal Mush

Follow directions on cornmeal package for making cornmeal mush, noting quantity required for the number of guests you are serving. Pour into a loaf tin and cool. Slice in ½-inch slices, and brown well on both sides in butter. Serve hot with honey and apple butter.


Sherried Grapefruit
Steamed Smoked Black Cod or Sablefish
Rye Toast
Butter Steamed Potatoes
Cherry Tomatoes

Sherried Grapefruit

Peel grapefruit, and carefully slice into sections with a sharp knife, freeing the fruit from the tough membrane that separates each section. Arrange in individual serving dishes. Sugar to taste, and add 2 tablespoons medium or sweet sherry to each dish. Chill.

Steamed Smoked Black Cod or Sablefish

This comes in plastic bags that may be heated in water. If purchased loose, wrap in foil and heat in a 375° oven. Serve with chopped parsley, melted butter, and lemon.

Butter Steamed Potatoes

Choose small new potatoes of uniform size. Steam them in about ½ inch butter in a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting cover. Shake the pan several times during the cooking. Do not let potatoes overcook. Salt well with coarse salt and add freshly ground black pepper.

Cherry Tomatoes

Wash tomatoes but leave the hulls on. Allow some moisture to remain on the skins. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt (preferably coarse), or pass the salt separately, and pepper.

Late Breakfast

Late breakfast (or "brunch," to use a word I dislike) can be served any time between 11 and 1. It is not the hour that makes it breakfast but, presumably, the fact that it is the first meal of the day. In content the menu for a late breakfast is hardly distinguishable from a light luncheon, and there are few types of food that cannot be considered breakfast fare. In the menus that follow, you will find such items as fettucine Alfredo and grilled porterhouse steaks.

Of course, one thing clearly distinguishes late from early breakfast: alcoholic drinks. Bloody Marys are good for such an occasion, and so also are various wine drinks. Champagne is perfection.

Breakfast can be as informal as you wish, but it can also be a rather sumptuous affair. I do a Christmas breakfast every year, to which I invite a dozen or so close friends. It is every bit as festive as a Christmas Eve supper.

A Mint Julep Breakfast for 12

Serve perfectly made mint juleps before breakfast.

Cold Smithfield Ham
Rye or French Bread
Eggs and Mushrooms in Tarragon Cream
Raspberry Preserve
Toasted Muffins
Pound Cake

Cold Smithfield Ham

Smithfield hams may be bought in many parts of the country already cooked. It will save you a great deal of preparation if you are able to find one or have time to order one through your butcher. Slice the ham very thin, and serve with thin rye or thin French bread and butter.

Eggs and Mushrooms in Tarragon Cream

14 hard-cooked eggs
2 pounds mushrooms
10 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1½ cups chicken or mushroom broth
1½ cups cream
3 egg yolks
1 to 2 teaspoons dried tarragon or 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh

Slice the eggs. Sauté the mushrooms lightly in 6 tablespoons butter, and keep warm while you make a cream sauce: Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan, and add the flour. Cook over low heat for a minute, then add broth, stirring continuously, and the cream. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened, then add lightly beaten eggs yolks, first beating a bit of the sauce into the eggs. Do not allow the sauce to boil after eggs have been added. Add the tarragon and salt and pepper, if necessary (the broth may provide seasoning enough).

Place the eggs and mushrooms in the sauce, and serve in a chafing dish or tureen, garnished with chopped parsley.

Have quantities of buttered toast muffins on hand and a good raspberry preserve. With coffee serve thinly sliced Pound Cake (see p. 349).

Champagne Breakfast for 8

Serve well-chilled champagne before and throughout the meal.

Tiny Croustades
Superb Chicken Hash
Link Sausage
Toasted Brioche
Damson Preserves

Tiny Croustades

1 loaf unsliced bread
Olive oil
Melted butter
6 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
12 to 16 anchovy fillets rolled with capers

Cut bread ½ inch thick. Remove crusts, and cut each slice in halves or thirds. With a sharp paring knife and a spoon, hollow out the center of each piece, leaving a base and a frame of bread. Brush with olive oil and butter, and toast both sides to a delicate brown.

Combine eggs, a grind of pepper, parsley, chopped anchovies and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Spread into the small croustades. Dot with butter, and add a rolled anchovy to each. Heat for 3 to 4 minutes in a hot oven. Serve hot.

Superb Chicken Hash

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 green peppers, diced
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups or more cold chicken or turkey cut in wide dice
Salt and pepper
1½ teaspoons tarragon
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup blanched almonds or ½ cup broken walnut meats
8 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté the onion and green pepper in the butter and oil until just wilted. Add the chicken and mix well. Add seasonings and almonds and toss. Press the chicken down well in the skillet. Cover for just 2 or 3 minutes. When the chicken is thoroughly heated through pour in the beaten eggs, mixed with the grated cheese, and cook over low heat until set. If practicable, run the skillet under the broiler for just 2 or 3 minutes to brown the egg and cheese.

NOTE: If you are using turkey that has been stuffed, a little of the cold stuffing mixed with the turkey adds a pleasant flavor.

Link Sausage

Small pork sausage links are best for this occasion. Broil according to instructions for Broiled Sausages (see p. 16).


Wash and trim 4 pounds of asparagus. Lay flat in a skillet, and cover with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook quickly until tender but still crisp. Serve with melted butter.

NOTE: If asparagus is out of season, serve a platter of radishes, celery and scallions instead.


See p. 344.

A White Wine Breakfast for 6

Serve chilled Muscadet or Riesling.

Tiny Peppers Stuffed with Sausage
Table-Scrambled Eggs
Croissants Raspberry Preserves

Tiny Peppers Stuffed with Sausage

2 pounds ground pork, ¾ lean, ¼ fat
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon Tabasco
12 small green peppers or the lower halves of 12 large ones

Blend meat and seasonings well. Fry a small piece and taste. Correct the seasoning.

Parboil peppers 8 minutes in salted water. Drain. Fill with the sausage mixture. Arrange in a shallow, oiled baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or till sausage is cooked and delicately browned.

Table-Scrambled Eggs

Use either a chafing dish or an electric skillet.

14 eggs
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
2 or 3 dashes Tabasco
6 tablespoons or more of butter

Beat eggs lightly, together with water and seasonings. Melt butter over low heat, and add eggs. Increase heat slightly, and scrape along bottom of pan with a wooden or rubber spatula until eggs form large curds. Do not overcook. Add more butter if you wish.


You may buy croissants if you have a good French bakery in the neighborhood, or make your own (see p. 344–45).

A Vodka or Zubrowka Breakfast for 12

The vodka or zubrowka should be served icy cold. (Zubrowka is vodka with a piece of sweet grass in it, which perfumes it delicately.)

Smoked and Cured Fish
Sliced Tomatoes and Onions
Pumpernickel Sandwiches
Cucumber Sandwiches
Danish Pastry
Rolls and Butter

Smoked and Cured Fish

1 pound best smoked salmon, thinly sliced
1 pound smoked sturgeon, thinly sliced
2 pounds smoked eel, skinned and cut from bones in thin fillets
2 or 3 whole smoked whitefish
12 pieces herring in sour cream
12 pieces herring in white-wine sauce

Arrange smoked fish on a platter, together with lemon wedges and capers. Each type of herring should be on a separate platter, with chopped parsley for a garnish.

Arrange a plate of sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced onions, a plate of thin pumpernickel and butter sandwiches, and a plate of cucumber sandwiches on white bread. Also provide crisp rolls and butter, and have a cruet of oil on hand for the fish.

Follow with Danish pastry and more rolls, with butter, cheese, and marmalades.

The vodka or zubrowka should be served throughout the fish course. Afterwards serve coffee and iced tea.

A Sherry Breakfast for 8

Offer a well-chilled fino sherry, a chilled medium sherry, and, if you wish, a cream sherry. With the sherry you might serve salted almonds and tiny green olives.

Broiled Sausages
Potato Galette
Broiled Kidneys
Toasted Homemade Bread
Strawberry Preserves

Broiled Sausages

Choose 2½ pounds small pork sausages. Blanch in boiling water 5 minutes. Drain, and place under broiler, 4 to 5 inches from heat, and broil, turning once, till the sausages are golden brown and glazed. Remove to hot plate.

Potato Galette

See p. 356.

Broiled Kidneys

Remove most of the fat from 8 veal kidneys, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the cord. Brush with butter or sausage fat (from the broiling pan), and broil quickly, turning once, for 5 to 6 minutes or to your taste. Salt and pepper.

Serve with a garnish of watercress.

Toasted Homemade Bread

See the recipe for Homemade Bread, p. 341. If you haven't the time or ambition to make your own, you can purchase frozen loaves of "homemade" bread ready to bake.

Slice bread fairly thick, toast well, butter, and keep hot.

A White Wine and Cassis Breakfast for 6

As an apéritif, serve chilled dry white wine with a touch of crème de cassis stirred in it.

Sliced Oranges, Mexican
Codfish Provençale
Croissants Strawberry Jam

Sliced Oranges, Mexican

Peel 6 or 7 oranges carefully, or slice off peel with a knife, so that no white skin remains. Slice thin, and arrange on a serving plate. Dust with 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve at once.

Codfish Provençale

The sauce on this fish dish is a favorite in the South of France. It is called rayte and is often used as a dip for crisp bread sticks or raw vegetables.

1½ pounds salt codfish
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 large can solid-pack tomatoes
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 bay leaf
Touch of fennel
Pint of red wine
1 can tomato paste
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup capers
1 cup black olives
Salt and pepper

First, put the salt cod to soak in cold water. It should soak at least 8 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil and butter. When they are just limp, add the can of tomatoes, the rosemary, bay leaf, fennel, red wine, and tomato paste. Blend thoroughly. Cook gently until slightly thickened. Add the nuts, capers, olives, and salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking gently for about 30 minutes.

When the fish has soaked, drain it, and cut into square serving-size pieces. Roll in flour and sauté in olive oil until nicely browned. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve.


Excerpted from James Beard's Menus for Entertaining by James Beard. Copyright © 1965 James Beard. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Editor's Note,
Easy to Prepare,
To Prepare in Advance,
Indoor-Outdoor Cooking,

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