"Martha's Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations" By Martha Stewart Clarkson Potter/Publishers; $75; 432 pages
In a nutshell: Martha Stewart is to entertaining what the pope is to organized religion -- she may not have created the concepts of dinner parties and holiday celebrations, but she's the reigning potentate, and her followers take her pronouncements about floral centerpieces, appetizers and tasteful table arrangements as scripture.
Now they have a new entertaining bible with this coffee-table book devoted to special occasions and holidays. Stewart shows how she uses her various homes for Easter egg hunts, garden parties, Independence Day barbecues and lavish Christmas dinners, with tips and recipes for re-creating them at your own country estate.
Of course, while anyone can adopt Stewart's tips and tricks, the photos of her parties prove she's in a world unlike any other, and we're only along for a vicarious ride. When was the last time you counted filmmaker Barry Levinson, Poet Laureate Emeritus Billy Collins or Lord Wedgwood (of Wedgwood porcelain fame) among your dinner party guests?
Take a taste: Poppy Seed Cheese Straws; Stuffed Potato Crisps With Gravlox; Buttermilk-Chive Biscuits; Potted Crab With Melba Toast; Leek Terrine; Seared Pheasant Breasts With Endive Meuniere; Peach and Nectarine Ricotta Crostata; Pumpkin Mousse.
What's hot: The photography offers a glimpse into the rarified world of the East Coast's upper crust, including Stewart's beautiful gardens. And Stewart's tips on drink-making and party favors are sure winners.
What's not: It weighs 6 pounds, so you won't be lugging it around in the kitchen; and it's $75 -- even Lord Wedgwood might balk at that price.