In today's Food section, which was printed in advance, an article about the "Tiny Kitchen" cookbooks incorrectly identified the books' illustrator as Jeri Pinson Wellens. Todd Healy is the illustrator; Wellens did the photography for the first book in the series. (Published 9/1/04)
As a single twentysomething sharing a small Manhattan apartment with girlfriends, Denise Sullivan Medved was a typical young professional: She loved to entertain but was low on cash and had a kitchen barely big enough to breathe in. But with a little ingenuity and some impressive improvising, she managed to pull off several successful parties.
Eight years and a move back to her native Alexandria later, Medved found herself dealing with an even smaller kitchen space. But she continued to entertain. And so the idea for a cookbook was born. Taking matters into her own hands, she founded Tiny Kitchen Publishing and wrote "The Tiny Kitchen" (2001), now in its third printing. "The Tiny Bachelor Kitchen," co-authored by her husband, Bill, soon followed (2003). Medved's friend Jeri Pinson Wellen contributed the illustrations.
The books are the first in a planned series written with social urbanites in mind: those of small spaces and limited resources and those who like to cook but don't own a Cuisinart or have cardamom in their cupboards -- or don't even know what those things are for that matter. Recipes from guacamole to beef Wellington are presented in an uncomplicated manner and, unlike recipes found in many cookbooks today, can be made with ingredients most people already have on hand.
Medved describes her books as a "fun series for those who don't take themselves so seriously." In a culture where domestic perfection reigns supreme, the energetic Medved is refreshingly unapologetic about being imperfect; and she's happy to share her own party blunders, including an embarrassing incident involving herbed Brie, an open window and many unpleasantly surprised guests.
According to Medved, mishaps are just part of the fun of entertaining. "You should never be too intimidated to entertain," she says. "Things don't have to be perfect. Things happen and it's okay. Just enjoy yourself." And she offers these simple words of advice for those worried more about their modest means than the food they serve: "If you think people are coming over to inspect your house . . .don't invite them."
Both "Tiny Kitchen" books ($16.95 and $17.95) are available at area bookstores and at Gallery Lafayette, 320 King St., Alexandria; call 703-549-7883.
-- Terri Sapienza