Kick-Ass Chilaquiles and Hammed-Up Eggs in Purgatory compete 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 (Highlight Life Books).
However you serve it, foodies far and wide are all the better for it.
A self-taught chef who splits his time between Palm Springs and Seattle, Mulligan has always wanted to create an easy-to-understand cookbook based on the foods he grew up with and those he enjoyed with his longtime partner Sean and theirs two children. The result offers readers 70 tantalizing recipes for a variety of meals — breakfast, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, desserts, and Thanksgiving — that he’s curated over the years.
“I just love being in the kitchen,” says Mulligan. “I love being the person in my family and network who collects favorite recipes.”
Thoroughly “home trained”, he has also taken a lot of cooking classes and spent many years in the restaurant industry.
“I love to eat. I’m the person who keeps recipes alive,” he says. “I am constantly improving 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 move through these inventive recipes, Mulligan muses on each individual dish, sharing what he likes about it or how that particular meal became a catalyst for a deeper connection at the table.
Which is reminiscent of Cesar Chavez, who once quipped, “If you really want to find a boyfriend, go to someone’s house and have dinner with them. The people who give you their food give you their heart.”
And there is a lot of heart and soul in “A Perfect 10”.
Originally from Washington state, Mulligan admits his mother “wasn’t a good cook”. Inevitably, he had to cook a lot for the family. Still, he’s ditched his mother’s casserole/comfort food creations from the ’70s and refreshed some of them up here.
Judy’s Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Judy’s Amped-Up Tuna Casserole stand out immediately. The former is a “must” for the Thanksgiving table, writes Mulligan. (A nice helping of maple syrup might do the trick.) The latter is palate nirvana. (Hail to Mama, Judy, and Mulligan, who have the wherewithal to fit Cheez-it crackers and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into an otherwise dated standard.)
Other inspired family recipes are also in the spotlight. Aunt Linda’s Wyoming Whopper Cookies and Aunt Pat’s Mocha Balls appear to be winners.
“Aunt Pat was one of those aunts that many have: the ones we used to visit for the holidays and made cookies and cakes,” says Mulligan. “Your mocha balls are so unique. And delicious. I had to wrap it – basically just bake a homemade angel cake that is easy, cut into squares and roll it in icing and peanuts. It’s a delicacy you’ve never really seen anywhere.
“Aunt Pat was a big influence on me when it came to baking,” he says.
Other pages are filled with his beloved dishes, like 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 at our house for birthday dinners.”
“When we were quarantined in Palm Springs at the beginning of the pandemic, it was the perfect time to take my favorite recipes and create the theme of the book,” says Mulligan. “I liked the idea of having top 10 recipes for each meal that no matter your level of cooking can make a dish just by following the steps as I wrote them.”
Mulligan was a daytime human resources manager and also wrote the best-selling book, Roar: How to Build a Resilient Organization the World Famous San Diego Zoo Way. He is also a playwright, best known for ‘Witchland’.
When asked if he’s more of a salt or sugar type, he immediately replies “sugar”.
No doubt the dessert department will turn heads with 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 just to share my favorite recipes that people have been asking me for,” says Mulligan. “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 will open people’s eyes to some interesting recipes that I’ve tweaked over the years, things that might remind you of your own childhood. I want to share that joy with others.”
Find out more about Tim Mulligan at aperfect10cookbook.com.
Greg Archer writes about change agents, coincidences and the entertainment industry. His work has been featured on the USA Today Network, Palm Springs Life, Huffington Post, The Advocate, and other media. His memoir Grace Revealed chronicles his Polish family’s odyssey during World War II. gregarcher.com.