I like anything with a heartfelt inscription to Mom. There's a great one in Lee Svitak Dean's lovely new cookbook, Come One, Come All--Easy Entertaining with Seasonal Menus . Dean, the Strib 's Taste editor and local foodie doyenne, fondly recalls her mother's facility with menus and knack for throwing fantastic parties. Whether it was a Roaring Twenties'-style speakeasy, a Gilligan's Island castaway bash, or a simple confirmation supper with a clever ice cream station (this was the '60s, mind you), Laverne Svitak always knew the recipe for delicious fun.
In the book, Dean intuits her mother's pro-party spirit, culls and tweaks years of Star Tribune recipes that are too good to languish in newsprint dungeons, and turns them into impeccably organized, easy-to-follow seasonal menus. Suffering a sub-zero sadness? Seared scallops on greens; mushroom risotto; and giant, buttery popovers shared with a few friends and a bottle of Barbera d'Alba would surely do the trick, don't you think?
In a cookbook season where everyone's freaking over Ferran Adrià's A Day At El Bulli and the Ripper's On the Line , Come One, Come All feels refreshing, familiar, and accessible. Perhaps somewhere along the line, Dean realized her mother's gifts weren't necessarily unique and that if they could be learned by one, they could be learned by all. Me? I'm emboldened. The cream of carrot soup is on deck for tonight, and although I probably won't do a whole party, I'll definitely call my mom to talk about it.