‘Cooking for Crowds’ gets re-release

The 40th anniversary of Merry White’s “Cooking for Crowds” has been released.

First published in 1974, these large party recipes introduced home cooks to more exotic recipes, like pesto, curries and baklava. (There was a time that we didn’t enjoy those?) White, a Harvard graduate and single mom, began cooking for Harvard’s Center of West European Studies to earn money for graduate school.

Her recipes were noticed by a publisher, who decided he wanted to publish a cookbook with them along with illustrations from Edward Koren, who has been published in the New Yorker, New York Times and Vanity Fair. Now 40 years later, these recipes are still delicious and relevant today, though some of the foods and ingredients are no longer so “exotic.”

The book’s recipes are divided into Soups and Starters, Main Dishes, Vegetables and Side Dishes and Desserts, and each recipe gives instructions for 6 servings, 12 servings, 20 servings and 50 servings, so no matter what the size of your crowd, you’re covered.

Soups and Starters have dishes like Crabmeat Pastry, which uses phyllo dough – an ingredient that in 1974 must be explained and said to be purchased in Greek or Middle Eastern groceries or specialty shops, now probably in every grocery store; Broccoli Soup, which is deemed an “unlikely soup vegetable” but promises to be good; and “Homous” which was just starting to become popular in the U.S.

Main Dishes include the Indian dish Chicken Tandoori, Hungarian dish Chicken Paprikash and Louisiana favorite, Dirty Rice.

Vegetables and Side Dishes include Chinese Spiced Eggplant (which contain sesame oil and chili paste which could be found in specialty markets), the French Ratatouille and Dhal, a lentil curry.

Desserts include Linzertorte, Brandy Alexander Pie and Baklava/

If you’re looking for a cookbook that will help you serve a crowd this holiday season, this is a great book for you with plenty of variety. If you’re wanting an interesting read about food culture changes, this is also interesting, seeing how commonplace some “exotic” ingredients from the 70s are now.

“Cooking for Crowds” is published by Princeton University Press. It is $29.95.

  • ??

Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com