Kick-Ass Chilaquiles and Hammed-Up Eggs in Purgatory vie for attention with Groovalicious Greek Lemon Soup and Slammin’ Soy Glazed Salmon Lemon in Tim Mulligan’s inspiring new cookbook, “A Perfect 10: Ten Scrumptious Recipes for Each Part of Every Meal” (Highpoint Life Books).
Any way you serve it, foodies near and far are all the better for it.
Mulligan, a self-taught home cook who splits his time between Palm Springs and Seattle, always wanted to create an easy-to-follow cookbook based on the foods he grew up with and those he enjoyed with his longtime partner, Sean, and their two children. The result offers readers 70 tempting recipes for various meals — breakfast, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, desserts and Thanksgiving — that he’s has curated over the years.
“I just I love being in the kitchen,” Mulligan says. “I love being the person in my family and in my network who gathers favorite recipes.”
Thoroughly “home-trained,” he’s also taken a fair share of cooking lessons and spent many years in the restaurant industry.
“I love food. I’m that person who keeps recipes alive,” he says. “I’m constantly tweaking old recipes and finding new ones. I surround myself with people who love restaurants and dinner parties. That’s the whole world to me. It’s not my full-time job, but it’s definitely my passion.”
Each section of the book begins with a personal story and as we make our way through these inventive recipes, Mulligan muses about each individual dish, sharing what he enjoys about it or how that particular meal became a catalyst for deeper connection around the table.
Which recalls Cesar Chavez, who once quipped: “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him. The people who give you their food, give you their heart.”
And there’s a lot of heart in “A Perfect 10.”
Originally from Washington state, Mulligan admits that his mother was “not a good cook.” Inevitably, he found himself doing a lot of the cooking for the family. Still, he leaped off his mother’s casserole/comfort food creations of the ’70s and freshened some of them up here.
Judy’s Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Judy’s Amped-Up Tuna Casserole immediately stand out. The former is a “must-have” for the Thanksgiving table, Mulligan writes. (A nice helping of maple syrup does the trick, perhaps.) The latter is nirvana for the palate. (Hail Momma Judy and Mulligan for having the wherewithal to add Cheez-it crackers and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into an otherwise timeworn standard.)
Other inspired family recipes get the spotlight, too. Aunt Linda’s Wyoming Whopper Cookies and Aunt Pat’s Mokka Balls seem like winners.
“Aunt Pat was one of those aunts that many of have: those we’d go visit during the holidays and find baking cookies and cakes,” Mulligan says. “Her Mokka Balls are so unique. And yummy. I had to include it — basically just make a homemade angel food cake, which is easy, cut in squares, and roll it in frosting and peanuts. It’s a delicacy that you never really seen anywhere.
“Aunt Pat was a big influence for me in terms of baking,” he says.
Other pages are filled with his cherished dishes, such as Tim’s Tostadas, Tracy’s Killer Hot Artichoke Dip (from pal Tracy), baked chicken with lemon and olives, and Emiel’s Cheeseburger Lasagn-YAY, “a staple in our house for birthday dinners.”
“When we were quarantining in Palm Springs at the beginning of the pandemic, it was the perfect time to take on my favorite recipes and create the theme of the book,” Mulligan says. “I liked the idea of having Top 10 recipes for each meal period that, regardless of your cooking ability, if you just followed the steps as I wrote them, you’d be able to whip up a dish.”
A human resources executive by day, Mulligan also penned the bestseller, “Roar: How to Build a Resilient Organization the World Famous San Diego Zoo Way.” He’s a playwright, too, mostly known for “Witchland.”
Asked whether he’s more of a salt or sugar kind of guy, he immediately hits back with “sugar.”
No doubt the desserts section will generate buzz with the likes of 7-Up Thumbs Up Pistachio Cake, Amazeballs Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Red Velvet Banana Pudding I Could Eat All Day.
“My main goal was to just share my favorite recipes that people have asked me about,” Mulligan says. “I want to help people who never quite know what to bring to a party. They might say, ‘Oh, I’ll just pick a side dish or make a salad.’ So, I hope this book opens people’s eyes to some interesting recipes that I’ve been tweaking over the years, things that are reminiscent of their own childhood perhaps. I want to share that joy with others.”
Learn more about Tim Mulligan at aperfect10cookbook.com.
Greg Archer writes about change agents, happenstance, and the entertainment industry. His work has appeared in the USA Today Network, Palm Springs Life, Huffington Post, The Advocate and other media outlets. His memoir, “Grace Revealed,” chronicles his Polish family’s odyssey during World War II. gregarcher.com.