Do you have good memories of regular family meals, gathered around the table, but find it difficult to make that happen nowadays? For many of us, it’s a scene we’d love to see, but the logistics, the preparations, the decisions and the details sink the idea before we even get started. That’s why Cynthia Graubart wrote her latest cookbook: Sunday Suppers: Simple, Delicious Menus for Family Gatherings.
A popular and beloved cooking teacher and James Beard-award winning cookbook author, Cynthia Graubart knows how powerful home cooking can be as a way to bring people together and enrich our daily lives. Her cookbooks, classes, and recipes help people cook wonderful food, not only in terms of recipes and kitchen skills, but in terms of helping us think about food, meals, and the nuts and bolts of getting to that moment of sitting down, happy to be together and eager to dig in to great meal with people we love.
In this cookbook, Cynthia provides 52 menus for Sunday evening meals, some elaborate, some casual, some seasonal, some grilled — each a set of three recipes around which to build a memorable but do-able meal for four to six people. Some are entree, vegetable, and dessert; others are main course, salad, and cocktail. Chapters range from “Just Us”, everyday dishes for busy families, to “Company” with special occasion recipes and “Sunday Upside Down”, which is breakfast menus to enjoy at suppertime.
I cooked from the opening “Just Us” chapter, choosing Menu 4, a chicken and mushroom casserole with fresh-herb spoon rolls and a delightful fruit crisp. I used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, and pears instead of cherries for my fruit crisp, adding dried cranberries and candied ginger to bring a little color and delight to the tasty but plain-looking-compared-to-cherries pears. The rolls use yeast but need no kneading and no rising time — as easy as making corn muffins but yielding a pleasing texture and flavor. With a simple green salad and some ice cream on the crisp, we had a feast with just a little advance work.
The book begins with thoughtful notes on reading recipes, creating menus, substitutions, advance preparation and reheating, setting up your pantry for success, and kitchen tools to have handy. Handsomely photographed with photos of every dish and lovely scenes of dining tables set up for guests and special events, Sunday Suppers is enhanced with sidebars on holidays, seating, allergies, and houseguests. Numerous Q & A features with beloved Southern food folks also season the book, and recipes include quick-and-easy as well as show-stopper game plans.
Cynthia Graubart wants us enjoy the benefits and pleasures of family mealtimes but she knows that can be a huge challenge for many reasons. She sees setting up a Sunday night routine as a good thing that is do-able for many of us, if we get ourselves set up for success, and this book is all about how to make that happen.
“It’s our Sunday suppers, served in the evening, that are sometimes a full meal, sometimes a soup and sandwich, but always all about family. If your family is struggling to find time to eat together regularly, Sunday supper is a great place to start. We have more time to spend cooking on Sundays, and it doesn’t have to be fancy.”
Here’s Cynthia Graubart on the delightful “Home & Family” show recently, sharing this latest cookbook and preparing this very chicken-and-rice casserole, for which you’ll find the recipe below. Click HERE to watch.
I hope you have the pleasure of sharing Sunday suppers with some dear ones this year. If it’s family at home, great! If you’re solo, consider starting a Sunday-supper gathering with friends, taking turns with cooking or hosting, and keeping things simple enough that the focus stays where it belongs: On getting together to share time and company, to feed our spirits as well as our tummies. Making it an on-going routine can be the difference between wishing things would happen and creating a habit that nourishes us all year long.
- 1⁄2 cup butter
- 6 skinned and boned chicken breasts or 6 - 8 skinned and boned chicken thighs
- 3 shallots, chopped, or ⅓ cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup sherry or white wine or apple juice
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 (6-ounce) package long-grain and wild rice mix or ¾ cup long grain rice
- ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (divided)
- 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (optional)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup sliced toasted almonds
- Mushroom Chicken Casserole - Home & Family
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add half of chicken, and cook 3 minutes or until browned; turn and cook 1 minute.
- Transfer to a plate. (Chicken will not be cooked completely.) Repeat procedure with 1 tablespoon butter and remaining chicken.
- Add another tablespoons butter to skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, and sauté 2 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds.
- Add mushrooms; cook, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in sherry, and cook, stirring often, 1 minute.
- Melt remaining butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and add rice (reserve flavor packet for another use), half the parsley, next 4 ingredients, and shallot mixture.
- Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with chicken.
- Bake at 375°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F.
- Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining parsley.