Mom's the flavor!

By JOAN BRUNSKILL AP Food Editor Published:

NEW YORK (AP) Mothers Day tributes can run to flowers, candy, reservations for favorite restaurants, offers to cook for her and other treats.

But buying a cookbook for Mom has to have a thoughtful reason, something that makes the book reflect more than merely a hint toward the hot stove for that one special day, at least.

Sometimes, the recipes are only a part of the story.

Here, for example, is a cookbook with a heartfelt purpose: Ya Tibya Lublu: Recipes of Love for Orphans of Eastern Europe edited by Lisa Finneran (Morris Press Cookbooks, 2006, $17 plus $3 shipping/handling), available online from http://www.arkangels.org.

The first part of the title means I love you in Russian. The second part points to the loving thought behind the books genesis, which is being translated into some very practical help for orphans: the proceeds from the book.

Finneran and many of the books collaborators and contributors have first-hand experience of adoption. Finneran and her husband adopted two children from a Russian orphanage in 2003. The books celebrity coordinator Jane Waldman and her husband adopted their daughter from Russia, in 2004.

One of the recipe contributors, figure skater and Olympic gold medallist Oksana Baiul, from Ukraine, lost her father when she was 2, and her mother when she was 13.

The book has stories and photos of happily adopted children interspersed with the 400 recipes. But, as Finneran explains, the reason the book exists is to help a few of the many other orphans with little chance of being adopted.

Lisa and I were so moved by the plight of the children we left behind, we vowed we would do something to help them, Waldman says. The book is the result.

Among recipes shared by editors and celebrities, family and friends is this beet salad, from Denise Davis. She and her husband Gary adopted two children from Ukraine, a note with the recipe explains. Davis says this is a popular salad starter in Ukraine Root vegetables grow well in Ukraines cold climate, and beets are the tastiest and most colorful.

Beet Salad

3 to 4 beets

2 cooking apples

2 ounces walnuts

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise

Peel and cook the beets. Peel and core the apples. Grate the beets and the apples.

(Recipe from Ya Tibya Lublu: Recipes of Love for Orphans of Eastern Europe edited by Lisa Finneran, Morris Press Cookbooks, 2006)

The Family Kitchen by Debra Ponzek (Potter, 2006, $25) would make a disarming present to Mom, because it suggests everyone can have fun in the kitchen.

The books subtitle makes the point, referring to the contents as easy and delicious recipes for parents and kids to make and enjoy together. Ponzek, who worked as a chef in Manhattan, and now runs a specialty food chain, lives in Connecticut with her husband and three childen so shes learned from hands-on experience practical things the book passes on to other parents.

But, above all, she says, this book is about the possibilities for connecting with your kids and enjoying your family by cooking together.

Beyond having a good time, she points out, children can feel proud of actually making something that people can eat and they learn a lot, from math and nutrition to geography, history and the environment.

The recipes, grouped in chapters from breakfast to bake sales, by way of snow days and summer picnics, come with sidebars: Call the Kids, lists of chores for which to recruit the children. The book is well designed, enlivened with plenty of color photos, including some showing the author in the kitchen with assorted children.

From the chapter on summer picnics comes this shrimp salad that Ponzek says is good for lunch as well, with its refreshing alternative of lemon vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise that often is part of similar salads. To simplify things, you can buy the shrimp already cooked, she suggests, but be sure to buy the freshest and the best shrimp you can.

Shrimp Salad With Avocado,

Celery and Red Onion

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

24 large, cooked peeled shrimp (about 1 pound)

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

1 celery rib, thinly sliced

1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced

12 grape tomatoes, halved

11/2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon diced red onion

In a small bowl, whisk together all the olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed. Whisk just before using.

In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, avocado, celery, scallion, tomatoes, parsley and red onions. Sprinkle with enough vinaigrette to coat lightly. Toss the shrimp salad gently and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Maskes 4 servings.

Call the Kids to:

Measure the oil.

Squeeze the lemon.

Dice the avocado with a blunt knife.

Mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Mix the ingredients for the salad.

Toss the shrimp with the vinaigrette.

(Recipe from The Family Kitchen by Debra Ponzek, Potter, 2006, $25)

A reminder that nobody ever has to run out of family recipes (even if theyre from someone elses family) comes in cookbooks Readers Digest has compiled from Taste of Home magazines.

Recent entries in the Taste of Home series are Moms Best Meals, Family Collection Cookbook, and Grandmas Favorites (Readers Digest, 2005, $24.95 each).

Recipe totals blast out on the covers: Moms best meals add up to at least 250 recipes; for the family collection there are 438 treasured recipes from cooks across America; Grandmas total is 350 handed down through the generations.

Moms Best Meals gives readers the whole menu for an affectionately recalled meal from mothers and sometimes from grandmothers table. These spreads range from French Cuisine for Christmas to A Birthday Meal To Remember, from Southern-Style Sunday Dinner to Nothing Beats a Barbecue.

The other books have individual recipes grouped by type, but what they all have in common is that each recipe has a personal attribution and descriptive headnote, with names and home towns of the contributor and lavish use of color photos.

The personal angles and stories are enough to persuade Mom to sit down for a pleasant browse, should anyone decide to present her with a copy on The Day. Meanwhile, a recipe included in a Birthday Wish Come True meal is simple and good enough for a volunteer cook to make for the familys dinner that evening.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.