Venable has received great praise from the food world for his easy, comforting cooking style, and that laid-back feeling pervades his second cookbook. Packed with nearly 150 recipes, this volume is like having a collection of “mini” cookbooks in one convenient place.
Mix and Mingle: Transform comfort foods into party fare with Mac ’n’ Cheese Bites, French Onion Soup Dumplings, Chicken Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, and Beef and Bean Tostados.
Brunch and Beyond: Make breakfast the most anticipated meal of the day with Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup, Eggs Benedict Bread Pudding, Hash Brown Breakfast Pizza, and Spiced Bacon Skewers.
Quick and Easy: Use that pressure cooker you’ve got stashed away in the cupboard to make Chili con Carne, Osso Buco, Asian Pulled Pork, and Chicken in a Pot.
Light and Bright: Savor Skinny Fried Chicken, Seven-Layer Taco Salads, and Linguine Carbonara—dishes that not only taste good but are guilt-free.
Smoke and Fire: Start up the grill for Smoked Brisket, Surf and Turf Kebabs, Grilled Scallops with Citrus Marinade, and Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Bundles.
Sweets and Treats: Finish off your meal with a crowning achievement such as Lemon Cheesecake Bars, Cherry Strudel, Peach Melba Icebox Pie, or Apple-Walnut Rustic Tart.
Complete with tantalizing photographs, helpful sidebars, and amusing anecdotes, this all-purpose cookbook will have your family coming back to the table again and again for more great food and great times.
Advance praise for Back Around the Table
“Whenever David walks into a room, he lights it up. His zest for life spills into the passion he has for food. As I was reading this new book, I found myself filled with the same joy as David; you can feel his love for all good things jumping off the pages and in his recipes. Back Around the Table had me laughing in the kitchen and doing the happy dance.”—Michael Symon, author of Michael Symon’s 5 in 5
“I want to eat David’s book from back to front! From classics like Mississippi Mud Pie to newfound inspirations like his French Onion Soup Dumplings, each recipe is so well thought out, with ease in mind, and all are happy-dance-worthy! There’s happy comfort all over this book, really, and that’s why I love David. I’m so happy to have another volume of the recipes I see him share on his show, as well as some from his home kitchen. What do you mean Back Around the Table? He never left!”—Sunny Anderson
“Back Around the Table brings David’s personal comfort food stories to life with approachable recipes that will leave you excited to bring your friends and family back around your table.”—Emeril Lagasse
“I already knew I loved David. I love spending time with him in the kitchen. I love his friendly, fail-proof approach to delicious home cooking. In Back Around the Table, David shares the coveted recipes for some of his favorite comfort foods, reinvented with his signature gusto for good eats—which I knew I would also love. But then I discovered his Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake—it puts every other chocolate cake to deep, chocolaty shame. And now I know he loves me, too.”—Daphne Oz
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Mix & Mingle
I love to entertain at home, but work, family, and all the other stuff of life sometimes make it difficult to put together a three-course meal for company. So I often invite a group of people over for small bites and cocktails instead. A cocktail party with appetizers lets your guests meet and mingle with new people.
Hosting cocktail parties allows me to spend more time with my guests, because I don’t have to always be jumping up and down, clearing plates, and serving the next course. I make sure to include a variety of appetizers. For an all-appetizers party, I allow for five or six hors d’oeuvres per person, plus a dip or two. For a dinner party, I offer two or three appetizers before sitting down to the meal. At an elegant evening, I might offer French Onion Soup Dumplings, Bacon Cheese Straws, and Smoked Salmon Crostini with Avocado Cream accompanied by flutes of sparkling wine. If vegetarians are coming, I make sure to include Garlic-Curry Hummus and Sweet Potato Chips or Spinach-Feta Cups. A holiday party means more people of all ages and more food. Mini Crab Cakes with Old Bay Mayonnaise; my take on my mom’s Sausage Party Bites; some Warm Bacon-Cheese Dip; and super creamy, super cheesy Mac ’n’ Cheese Bites offer something for everyone. Many of these recipes—Potato Pierogies and Chicken Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, for example—can be made ahead and frozen. That way you’ll always have small bites of comfort at the ready for a fun and festive gathering.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Buffalo chicken wings are a favorite of mine, especially when dining out. Once I see them on a menu, I usually go no further. Making them at home is more of a commitment than I usually have time for. Honestly, I’d rather be with my guests than frying wings in the kitchen. So, whether it’s movie night, game day, or party time, serve this warm, make-ahead dip that includes all the quintessential flavors of Buffalo chicken wings in one bowl. Surround it with an assortment of dippers, including celery and carrot sticks, broccoli florets, and tortilla, pita, or bagel chips. This dip is so good, I could lick the bowl. And I do. When no one is looking.
Makes 6 cups
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup bottled ranch dressing
¾ cup bottled blue cheese dressing
1 cup Buffalo wing sauce
2 store-bought rotisserie chickens, skin and bones removed and discarded, finely shredded
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
Tortilla chips and carrot and celery sticks
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Put the cream cheese, ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, and wing sauce in a bowl. Whisk until creamy. Fold in the shredded chicken and 1½ cups of the shredded cheese.
Spread the mixture into a 3½-quart baking dish, cover, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the dip from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1½ cups cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let the dip cool for 10 minutes, then serve with tortilla chips, carrot sticks, and/or celery sticks.
Warm Bacon–Cheese Dip
To me, cheese and bacon are two of God’s most perfect foods, so I’m always looking for new ways to combine them. When you serve this rich, comforting dip in a hollowed-out bread bowl, the presentation alone says, “Party time!” I like the mix of cheeses suggested below, but if you have a favorite blend, go for it. This dip lends itself well to most kinds of cheeses. For the bread bowl, I recommend a sourdough loaf, but any sturdy bread, like pumpernickel or rye, will work, too. It does take one hour for the dip to get hot all the way through, but trust me; it’s definitely worth the wait.
Makes 3½ to 4 cups
1 pound bacon slices, softened
1 cup chopped Vidalia onions
1 8-inch round sourdough loaf
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded yellow Cheddar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 scallion, thinly sliced, for garnish
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the cold oven. Turn on the oven to 400°F. Bake until the bacon is crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels. Save 2 to 3 tablespoons bacon drippings to sauté the onions. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Once the bacon is cool, chop it into small pieces. Reserve ¼ cup chopped bacon to garnish the dip.
While the bacon is cooking, use a serrated knife to slice off the top quarter of the bread. Pull out most of the soft interior, leaving a 1-inch thickness on the inside. Cut the interior bread into cubes, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and lightly toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Heat the reserved bacon drippings in a skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain off any excess oil.
While the onions are cooking, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, ¾ cup of the Monterey Jack, ½ cup of the Cheddar, and the Worcestershire sauce in a bowl until smooth. Add the chopped bacon and the onions to the cream cheese mixture, stirring well. Spoon the dip into the hollowed-out bread. Wrap the bread with aluminum foil, place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil from the bread bowl and sprinkle the top with the remaining ¼ cup Monterey Jack, the remaining ¼ cup Cheddar, the reserved ¼ cup chopped bacon, and the scallion. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve with the toasted bread cubes.
Garlic-Curry Hummus and Sweet Potato Chips
This recipe combines flavors and textures from two different regions of the world. I add some Indian-inspired cumin and curry powder to the Middle Eastern hummus combination of chickpeas and tahini. Instead of pita, I make sweet potato chips to balance the dip’s zestiness. Another option is to arrange a platter of zucchini coins, baby squash, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, bell peppers, snap peas, and green beans with a bowl of the hummus in the center.
Makes 3 cups
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup tahini
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Sweet Potato Chips
Vegetable oil spray
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the hummus, combine the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, and cilantro (if using) in a food processor. Purée until smooth and transfer to a serving dish.
To make the chips, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.
Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray the potatoes with the vegetable oil spray and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until crisp. Serve the chips with the hummus.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This cookbook is more party oriented with recipes to feed a crowd, slow cooker ( I do have) and pressure cooker (I don't have) recipes as well. I think his first cookbook was more family-dinner friendly.