Raise a Glass

What’s the most powerful woman in Minnesota food interested in these days? Lee Svitak Dean toasts the joys of at-home dinner parties.

As editor of the Star Tribune’s food coverage since 1994, Lee Svitak Dean has defined what it is we Minnesotans talk about when we talk about food. What’s she talking about right now? The importance of dinner parties, which she has made easier by gathering her all-time favorite recipes from the Taste section into a dinner-party- themed book: Come One, Come All: Easy Entertaining with Seasonal Menus (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $29.95).

“One of the things that’s happened as people have become more avid restaurant-goers is that they feel like maybe they have to duplicate the foods they have in restaurants in their homes,” notes Dean. “If they can’t do that they think they shouldn’t have people over. I think that restaurants can be wonderful, but there’s something much more intimate, something much more conducive to making great connections when you’re at someone’s house.” To get a holiday dinner party off on the right foot, Dean recommends something novel like this Pomegranate Punch, which unites the trendiness of pomegranate juice with the old-fashioned virtue of thrift (one fancy punch is less expensive than stocking a full bar for cocktails). “People always like something festive and sparkling around the holidays,” notes Dean. “It’s the perfect way to set the tone for a party.”

Pomegranate Punch

Makes 20 half-cup or 10 one-cup servings.

3 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
2 1/2 cups orange juice
2 1/2 cups cava, champagne, or sparkling water
1 1/2 cups vodka (use sparkling water for a non-alcoholic pomegranate punch)

In a punch bowl, mix together juices with sparkling water and add vodka. Add ice-ring made with pomegranate seeds or orange slices for decoration.