We are great fans of the dinner hour and have always thought “come for supper” had a friendlier and more appealing ring than “join us for dinner.”
One of our favorite books on the subject, no longer in print, is The Supper Book (Knopf, 1992) by Marion Cunningham. Although the book was written 15 years ago, which can be a long time in the food world, Cunningham’s reasons for focusing on supper are still relevant. She understood what busy home cooks were up against and recommended supper as a way to make the job easier. The definition of “supper” depends on where you are on the economic ladder. In high society circles, “supper” refers to a light meal after a night on the town. For the rest of us, it’s an evening meal.
Whatever your status, supper is “simple, easy and flexible,” writes Cunningham. Cunningham tries to focus on one-dish meals. When recipes can be prepared ahead with ingredients on hand, all the better. Fish tacos, shepherd’s pie, and meatloaf with ketchup and Worcestershire sauce are what supper is all about. Any dish that can be made in advance and popped into the oven a day or two later is a culinary lifesaver. Meatball calzone, for instance, goes from freezer to oven without stopping to defrost. It uses store-bought dough and meatballs, pre-shredded cheese and prepared tomato sauce. Served with a salad and shared with friends who have answered the call to “come for supper,” it’s sure to make a hit.
—Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.