‘Dazzling Dinners’ Wows Guests With Wonderful Recipes
By Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michele Salmon
The first job I ever had was selling cookbooks at the old Brentano’s on 47th street and 5th Avenue. Not surprisingly I was fired six months later for changing the staff’s name tags to read “Your salesman is Sigmund Freud, or Thomas Mann, or Salvadore Dali.” This little prank amused me greatly at the time, but the manager less so. During my brief employment I sold books to the likes of Mrs. Richard Rodgers, Kitty Carlisle, and many other members of the haute monde. I also dated Poppy Cannon’s daughter. Who was Poppy Cannon you ask? Poppy Cannon was the celebrated author of Poppy Cannon’s Pop-up Cookbook one of our biggest sellers, and her daughter was Claudia Phillipe the daughter of Poppy and one of her famous husbands, Claude Phillipe who was also well-known as “Phillipe of the Waldorf” and the co-owner of a vineyard in France with Alexis Lichine whose wine books I also sold.
During the day as it turned out I sold cookbooks at Brentano’s and by night I dined with Claudia Phillipe at the Waldorf Astoria and other fine hotel dining rooms around Manhattan. This is to let you know that I am not a stranger to cookbooks and recognize a good one when I see it. How then could I not enjoy one called “Dazzling Dinners,” by Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, and Michele Salomon, which promises 12 dinner plans with themes like Mardi Gras Dinner, Election Day Dinner, or Academy Award Night Dinner, and 120 original recipes for dishes designed to charm and impress?
The authors have even included a back-up support Web site in case you accidentally stuff the pigs in a blanket with Nova Scotia Salmon, thinking absent-mindedly that they were sea bass balls for your nautical dinner. But joking aside how could you resist making a dish of scallops with orange glaze (the book has illustrations), or a version of the traditional Mardi Gras King Cake served in New Orleans. Legend states that the person whose slice contains the buried doll shall be rewarded with good luck in the New Year. The mother of a friend of who was a prima ballerina from Alabama used to serve a King Cake at Christmas time each year and it was so festive and delicious that it makes me warm all over thinking about it — forget that it needs eight hours of preparation.
This book turns you into an impressive home chef who can actually concoct complete dinner plans for theme parties with “wow,” as they say. Did I mention the scrumptious-sounding steak noir? Or the curried meatloaf with pomegranate reduction? I think I must have gained four pounds while writing this review. Oh well, here’s to good times! #
Lewis Burke Frumkes is an author, radio-show host, and director of the Writing Center at Hunter College. His new book is “Famous Words of Famous People,” Marion Street Press.