The Dinner Party Matrix from Mark Bittman is a a mini-cookbook featuring 48 recipes to assist with a stress-free party.
The premise is that it’s relatively easy to adapt a dish to a particular cuisine simply by changing its seasonings. Using roughly the same technique, you can make butternut-squash soup, for example, taste as if it came from the Mediterranean (or Latin America or Asia) by tweaking just a few ingredients. To shift the soup toward South Asia, for instance, you simply substitute curry powder and ginger for the sage.
The primary recipe for each dish is Mediterranean, for no other reason than that’s as good a place as any to start. But there is so much leeway built into this “system” that you can also mix and match among the menus.
Drinks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts grouped by cuisine and ingredient. I have a love-hate relationship with Bittman’s How to Cook Everything cookbook, but it leans more towards love. Anyway, this strikes me as preposterously useful.