January 08, 2003 01:00 PM

Martha Stewart has a new publication under her apron belt — a populist recipe magazine called Everyday Food, the first test issue of which debuted this week and is in content and tone, as The New York Times reports (somewhat testily), “even farther from East Hampton than Kmart is.”

The paper notes that the small-sized magazine, which carries a $2.95 cover price, is “unlike almost every other product, show and publication put forth by” the domestic diva’s Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia company in that, this time, “Stewart’s signature blond hair and practiced smile are missing from all but a few small ads.”

Assessing the magazine’s introductory “message from Martha,” The Times opines that the letter from editor Stewart sets out “to make clear that her first endeavor not centered around her image was in the works before her stock scandal broke last June.”

Stewart, 60, is currently under dual investigations — by the Securities and Exchange Commission and by the U.S. Justice Department — for possible insider trading.

The problem stems from some 400 shares of a biotech stock that she dumped one day before an FDA announcement that the company’s cancer drug didn’t win government approval. The investigation has been blamed for causing stock in Stewart’s own company to plummet, and it has even brought into question how long she might remain in charge.

In the final analysis of Everyday Food, however, The Times calls its nearly 50 recipes “quick and easy,” especially for those who may previously have “squandered an entire Saturday trying to make Ms. Stewart’s marshmallows.”

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