Food & Drink

Socastee High School alum pens ‘Party Time’ cookbook

Have you ever been told by friends that you are such a good cook you should write a book?

Socastee high alumna Erin Kirk Courtney did just that. Courtney came to cooking at age 30.

She says she was in her early 30s before she ever baked a cake. Once “bitten” by the pastry-making “bug” she practiced until she realized she had a real talent. She then honed that talent with a one-year culinary program at the University of South Carolina.

Once she was able to create impressive meals for friends and family, she set about simplifying the techniques and recipes she had learned at culinary school to make them more accessible for busy Moms and others with little time, but who wanted to create elegant and tasty treats for family meals and entertaining.

Christine Martin whose son Josh was in band with Courtney during the author’s high school days considers Courtney a magician in the kitchen noting that the author was able to authentically recreate a cake from a bakery in Martin’s childhood home town. She says, “Erin became so good at baking that friends said she should have her recipes published. She did.”

In fact Courtney is already working on a second book in a planned series of books.

Party Time is a concise compilation of more than 100 recipes and advice on planning those parties so that the process of food preparation is easy and allows the host to enjoy the party as well. Courtney touts her fare as “simple , fun and delicious recipes for busy Moms.” But it’s equally good for even the practiced older home cook—like myself—who still wants to entertain, try new things, but without a lot of work.

What sets this book above others, or doing research for simple recipes on the internet is Courtney’s organized approach to the entire topic. She skillfully combines her professional training with personal experience to make recipes and the plans to have a party that the host will enjoy as much as her guests. Beginners will be glad for her opening definition of coking terms.

Even experienced cooks will enjoy her sample menus and party planning tips. I used to give an annual Christmas part for one hundred people at our home. I can attest to the validity of most of the points she makes and honestly say, I wish I had known about some of the others. Courtney’s attention to planning in one of the introductory chapters and her tips are another thing that sets this book above others. Planning is 90 of successful party execution.

Diane De Vaughn-Stokes who hosts the show, “Inside Out” on HTC, said, “Erin’s book is filled with short, quick and easy recipes that are great for any busy person, even though she says it is geared for “moms on the go”. I’m not a mom, but I loved the Chocolate Truffles and Mini Chocolate Mousse Tarts. The Apple Dumplings are scrumptious made with an amazing ingredient, Mountain Dew, which will surely tickle your innards.”

Courtney will be the featured chef on HTC “Inside Out” on an episode in June. The show airs HTC Channel 4, on Mondays, Wednesdays., and Fridays at 8 a.m., noon and 8 p.m.

The luscious looking photographs on the cover and in the book were taken by Kim Byer. Each section boasts a page of nine annotated each photo with that recipe’s page. The wonderful photos act as inspiration and a guide to presentation of the recipe.

The author includes many clever and tasty little tidbits of information along with the recipes. My two favorite sections are the hot and cold appetizer chapters. I loved her ideas for bacon ranch pinwheels and a chicken cheese ball. Tortellini caprese skewers will most certainly have an outing at the next dinner we host. The “crowd pleasing desserts” chapter is also most tempting. I love her ideas for singles serving desserts (beyond the usual cookie or cupcake) that look elegant and are tasty and require only minimum effort to make.

In the interest of speed and ease and to appeal to the novice, many of the cake-based recipes use a box mix. I have no trouble with that, If you are a strict from-scratch person, you can substitute your own scratch cake. Stokes pronounces the book” a keeper!” I agree. Order now to be ready for summer entertaining.

Title | Party Time

Author | Erin Courtney

Cost | $14.95