cover image Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day

Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day

Serena Bass. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $32.5 (216pp) ISBN 978-1-58479-347-2

Well-known caterer Bass's first book is a rare mixture of good food, great stories and truly unique style; just the right combination to make it a big hit with cookbook fans. From instructions on cooking up an English breakfast complete with Fried Bread and Caramelized Tomatoes to directions for a cocktail party with Salmon Gravlax Tartare on Crisp Potato Slices and Rope Burn drinks, Bass provides the inspiration and directions for entertaining at home. Although there's an English basis to her cooking (she suggests Sausage Rolls and Drop Scones for high tea), Bass's easy-going style is familiarly American; she says her cooking is best described as ""perfect ingredients, simply cooked, on pretty plates."" The stories about her life are winning and sound surprisingly authentic. Describing a pasta dish cooked by her independent older sisters, she writes: ""Early on in the month it was full of chicken, mid-month it was canned tuna, and toward the end of the month, clever things would be done with herbs."" The advice she offers on both recipes and presentation is equally down-to-earth and sensible, but filled with an admirable joie de vivre. The only problem with the book is a designer's decision to oddly highlight, in two different colors and typefaces, seemingly random words and phrases. It's eye-catching in the worst of ways. But such a little flaw hardly keeps this delightful book from being the equal of M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and Laurie Colwin at their best. Photos.