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Cooking with Linda

Like many good girls of her generation, Linda Allard learned to sew and cook when she was just 10 years old. Half of that training paid off early when she became the director of design at Ellen Tracy after only two years in the fashion...

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Like many good girls of her generation, Linda Allard learned to sew and cook when she was just 10 years old. Half of that training paid off early when she became the director of design at Ellen Tracy after only two years in the fashion business.

Now, she's finally gotten around to the cooking part, turning her favorite recipes into a colorful, family-style cookbook entitled "Absolutely Delicious!"

"A couple of years ago, I decided to make up a little book of recipes for my nieces as a Christmas present," says the designer. "So I put together all the recipes that my family always made -- my sister's cookies, my father's scrambled eggs -- things that are easy to make, and that I love to make over and over again. When I showed [the book] to Don Zaccardi, our director of advertising, he convinced me to try and publish it."

First Allard had to adapt the recipes for general consumption.

"I had to be a lot more precise than I had been originally, and I had to remake the recipes over and over again to get the ingredients right," she says. "I couldn't say things like 'a few onions.' And I had to change some mistakes. I had put in a recipe for my mother's bran rolls -- I had left out the bran!" Many of the recipes in "Absolutely Delicious!" are suspiciously Italianate, and Allard, who refined her culinary skills at Marcella Hazan's cooking school in Bologna, Italy, confesses a weakness for Italian food and restaurants.

"I love Coco Pazzo, Da Umberto downtown...I eat a lot at a place called Nanny's that's near my house -- when I don't want to cook."

She prefers cooking at her country house in Washington, Conn., where she has room to spread out in the kitchen.

Is there any missing ingredient from her life?

"I've always thought about the idea of having children, but I think children need to be nurtured, and I don't think you can do that from 5 to 6 at night."