Do the words ‘dinner party’ and ‘children’ belong in the same sentence? If you quickly said ‘no way,’ Lauren Bank Deen would beg to differ, or at least beg for a chance to change your mind.
Deen has done time with Martha Stewart (no, not like that), and has won multiple Emmy Awards as a TV series and broadcast producer. She was the Food Network’s very first sous chef, and has been a caterer to the rich and famous. She served as executive producer of Dweezil & Lisa, a rock star reality cooking show, among numerous other culinary and broadcasting credits.
She’s also a mom, and has set out, with her new entertaining/cookbook guide, Kitchen Playdates: Easy Ideas for Entertaining That Includes the Kids ** 70 Delicious Recipes, to make a leisurely dinner party with adult friends and kids not only feasible but fun. The book includes 70 recipes, plus menus, activities and 10 play dates. Deen promises get-togethers that will be ‘no sweat, with fewer tears.’
At first glance, Deen’s recipes/menus seem pretty ambitious, when you factor in kid involvement. Among her creations are Pickled Shrimp with Mango and Fennel and Parchment-Baked Halibut with Shiitakes, Lemon and Herbs; For dessert, there’s Polka-Dot Linzertorte. But Deen typically recommends that the little ones perform such tasks as measuring and mixing ingredients, or slicing stuff with plastic knives, so it actually appears doable.
Playdate ideas include a Video Cookbook Playdate in which older kids shoot a cooking show starring mom, kids and friends. Sounds like fun if you’re a ham. Her Pizza Party Playdate seems like a natural and includes some creative variations on the ever-popular pie; and Deen’s Salad Bar Playdate attempts to get kids interested in eating things that are green.
Loaded with colorful photography by Tina Rupp, Kitchen Playdates is both challenging and accessible. Bottom line: if you’re at that stage of life when small children have brought about certain limitations on your social calendar, Deen’s book could help get you back in the game.
Also see how this book identifies a new Hot & Cool Trend in cooking by clicking here.