What I Cook: Abby’s Favorite Cookbooks & Her Tip For a Stress-Free Dinner Party

published Mar 17, 2014
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(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

Last week we showed you Abby Ruettgers’ sweet South End kitchen, a gorgeous, well-edited space with rows of cookbooks, soapstone countertops, and a big chopping board. Abby loves to entertain, and her kitchen is perfectly set up for it: in colder months friends hang out at the counter or lounge around her dining table; in the summer they head out to the patio, which is in near-constant use in grilling season.

I know that anyone who frequently entertains has a tip or two up her sleeve, and Abby certainly did. Here she shares her three favorite cookbooks (for now!), a few go-to dinner party recipes, and the one thing she does to ensure she isn’t stuck in the kitchen all night when she has friends over for dinner:

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

Abby’s 3 Favorite Cookbooks Of Late

Abby owns hundreds of cookbooks, so picking a favorite is near impossible. She’s constantly looking through new cookbooks, both for her store Farm & Fable and her personal collection: “A lot of the ones that came out of the end of last year are in the slightly food porn category… [they’re] good for inspiration and gorgeous, but I don’t cook from them a lot.”

So, which cookbooks does she cook from a lot nowadays?

“I do think the A.O.C cookbook is terrific. Her first one, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, is one of my classic go-tos. I really like the Roberta’s cookbook. That one’s been really solid. Franny’s is another one where they did great. The pork sausage and tomato over soft polenta was delicious.”

Abby’s Go-To Dinner Party Tip & Favorite Recipes

When it comes to throwing a dinner party, it’s all about picking a dish that can be made in advance, and more importantly, tastes better the next day. “I work at the shop all day, so something like [beef bourguignon] is kind of my go-to… this is a great dinner party dish. I don’t want to strapped into the kitchen all night when people are here, so this is great because the kitchen is totally cleaned up and pristine [when guests arrive] because you made it the day before, and it tastes way better. That’s just a big win-win in my book.”

Besides beef bourguignon, Abby also recommends Suzanne Goin’s short rib recipe from her first book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and Julia Child’s cassoulet recipe. “Both require a fair amount of work but all of it can be done at least a day before.”

For weekend guests, Abby prefers to make a strata for the morning after everyone arrives. “I can make it the night before (often using leftovers from dinner), chill it in the fridge over night and then pop it in the oven the next morning. All I need to do is turn on the coffee and breakfast is done.”

Thanks, Abby!