Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Go on, take a bite

If you're one of a handful of people in this country that aren't concerned about shedding a few post-holiday pounds, then we've got the cookbooks for you!
Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax is a reprint of an award-winning bible for bakers.  Two decades after it first came out, it is still a treasure trove of traditional (Raspberry Flummery), unique (Grape-Nuts Pudding) and contemporary (Cappucino Semifreddo) desserts.  Although there aren't as many photos as I would like, the recipes are simple enough for the average home cook.  My personal favorite:  Grape-nuts pudding.
Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum is full of beautiful pictures, presents measurements in volume and weight (both metric and imperial), and instructs the cook on what special equipment might be needed for each recipe and what ingredients might need to be prepared ahead.  Recipes range from the homey (English Gingerbread) to the elegant (Grand Marnier Wedding Cake).
Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy melt-in-your-mouth cookies by Alice Medrich is an amazing collection of unusual and decadent cookies.  Sorted by texture, the recipes include such interesting suggestions as Masala Macaroons, Spiced Fig Meneinas, Honey Hemp Bars and Pecan Polvorones with Muscovado Filling.  There's also Snickerdoodles, Fudgy Brownies, Meringues and Lemon Bars, if you like your sweet nibbles a bit more familiar.
Meat: a kitchen education by James Peterson is a wonderful book for anyone who is daunted by the ever-changing names in the meat display at the local grocery store.  The photographs show you what the cut actually looks like, how to prepare it for cooking (trimming, boning, butterflying, etc.) and what cooking techniques to use with that particular cut (braising, roasting, sauteing, grilling, etc.).  Peterson even includes sections on game and sausages.
Heart of the Artichoke and other kitchen journeys by David Tanis is my personal favorite of the new crop of cookbooks.  Chef at the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant, Tanis presents recipes grouped by season:  both in the weight and tenor of their flavor, and in the accessibility of the ingredients.  No strawberries in December for Tanis.  His recipes are truly global, incorporating flavors from the Mediterranean, Latin America, the Far East and Europe.  He presents 5 menus per season, with a varying degree of complexity.  The Panfried Steak with Steak Sauce is easily done, the Terrine of Pork and Duck Liver....less so.  Generally speaking, however, the recipes are simple and easy to make, with just a few ingredients and a pure flavor.

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