Vegetarian Appetizers 

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Vegetarian Appetizers:

Simply Delicious Recipes 
for Easy Entertainement

by Paulette Mitchell

Chronicle Books LLC

copyright 2001


I have a confession to make. I love to nibble. I live to taste, I ache to try, I attack buffets I adore appetizers. I can´t help myself. So when I was given this particular review assignment, I knew it would be hard to remain unblased. A few days later when I first opened the book, I knew it would be near impossible. The photos, taken by Victoria Pearson, are mouth-watering. I could tell from the photos alone what the food should taste like, a rare accomplishment for a food photographer. Finally able to tear my eyes away from the yummy pictures, I took in the dish titles and the repipes themselves. 

The photos did not lie. Here was “apple salsa and brie crostini,” “quail eggs with olivada,” and “yam croquettes with tangerine- sherry sauce.” Paulette Mitchell´s recipes were not only presented in a simple manner, they actually were simple to prepare. Page after page of scrumptious instructions greeted me, until… Could it really be possible? Was this book of appetizers that considerd dessert a part of its elite membership? Indeed! There were the author´s sweet bites: “hazelnut-meringue mushrooms” so light they almost floated off the pages; “chévre-cherry bonbons” and “candied brie with apple wedges.”

This book is not just for those who love to entertain. Many of the recipes are perfect accompaniments for a slightly less-than-ordianry dinner, easy to prepare and healthy. I would write more, but I am afraid I have to run to the supermarket to buy some yams.

Noodles: The New Way

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Noodles: The New Way

By Sri Owen

Photos by Gus Filgate

Quadrille Publishing Ltd., copyright 2000

144 pgs

ISBN 1902757475


This colorful book educates the reader on almost every kind of noodle available, and even tells one how to one’s own noodles, in order to create recipes both from around the world and of the author’s own invention. The graphics are as subtle yet intriguing as Sri Owen’s recipes for “Chicken Dumpling Soup with Butternut Squash and Udon” and Tea-Smoked Monkfish with Rice Sticks and Rujak Sauce.”

Owen deftly combines textures and tastes to create simple, luxurious food. Unfortunately, the cookbook, while excelling in its recipes and innovative photography, lacks proper narration. Often, it seems as if Owen is almost apologizing for her ingredients – although there is certainly no need. For while her prose may be lacking in romance, her cuisine most definitely is not.

Family Organic Cookbook

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Family Organic Cookbook

By Carol Charlton

Photos by Mark Williams and Sandra Lousada

David & Charles, copyright 2000

192 pgs

ISBN 0715310798

The Family Organic Cookbook, by the owner of the Organic Café in London, demystifies the art of organic ingredients and cooking in a wholly satisfying way.

First, Carol Charlton leads the reader through an organic cupboard, explaining what to look for in every ingredient. Then her book moves on to recipes for breakfast through dinner and dessert, with staple recipes such as soda bread, homemade butter and yogurt, and chilled beetroot borscht. But she doesn’t stop there. The reader also will learn how to make “Fragrant Pork and Apricot Casserole,” a “Pretend Burger,” and a “Mushroom and Carrot Loaf” that sounds divine.

While many of the recipe titles may sound mundane at first glance, the results are anything but. The photography, too, is beautifully down to earth, candidly allowing a glimpse into a true organic family environment.

Savour Italy: A Discovery of Taste

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Savour Italy: A Discovery of Taste

By Annabel Langbein

Photos by Kieran Scott

Iternational Culinary Institute Press,
 copyright 2001

159 pgs

ISBN 0958202931

“Savour Italy,” indeed. Savour the tastes, the smells, and the images of a cook’s journey through Italy. These recipes are unmistakably, deliciously Italian – from the freshness of their ingredients to the simplicity of their design. Interspersed throughout the recipes and photos are charming stories and legends of the traditions behind Italy’s food and agriculture. Learn what the ancient Romans ate and how they shopped at market, or about the sagra, Italy’s agricultural festivals.

Taste “Pumpkin and Risottos cakes,” “Roast Beef a la Medici,” “Marsala Chicken Livers,” and “Sweet Grape Foccacia.” Anne Langbein has not only done her research, she presents it here in such a way that any cook, new or experienced will find solace and adventure in savouring Italy.

The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide

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The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide

By Paula Lambert

Photos by Greg Milano

Simon & Schuster, copyright 2000

388 pgs

ISBN 0684863189

This book is a must-have for anyone who loves cheese, for anyone who would like to love cheese, and even for those who still haven’t been able to figure out why other people go mad over cheese. “What is the fuss all about?” they ask. The fuss is that, “as Clifton Fadiman once said, cheese is truly “milk’s leap to immortality.””

In this book, Paula Lambert teaches how to make, choose, buy, store, present, and cook cheese. The reader learns not only how to make Crème Fraîche and Ricotta from scratch, but also how to incorporate each into a “Forgotten Torte with Berries” and “Swiss Chard Cannelloni with Tomato Cream Sauce,” respectively. And then, in case there is any confusion on how to serve a proper cheese board at the end of a meal, Lambert goes into detail, even explaining the proper way to cut a piece of cheese and how to eat it. With over 150 recipes alone, this book is a true cheese lover’s haven.

At the end of the book the reader will find pointers on how to pair wine with cheese; tables of cheeses arranged by taste, texture and country of origin; a cheese glossary; and a directory of cheese suppliers.

Eat and Two Veg

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Eat and Two Veg:
 Vitality food with less meat
By Sue Style

Photos by Gus Filgate

David & Charles, copyright 2001

192 pgs

ISBN 0715310100

Finally, a book for the reformed vegetarian. A book that includes meats, poultry and fish, but does not endeavor to make every meal with them, nor excludes them entirely. A book that instead focuses on the freshness of the raw ingredients, their texture and taste.

Sue Style takes the reader through an unpretentious symphony of recipes; from appetizers such as “Smoked Duck Breast and Avocado Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds” and “Beetroot and Fresh Goat’s Cheese Terrine”; to main courses like “Crunchy Vegetable Strudel Wrapped in Spinach and Ham,” “Fish Fillets with Potato Scales” and “Butterflied Lamb with Mint Pesto;” and ends with desserts such as “White Chocolate Mousse in Brandy Snap Baskets” or “Black and White Mischief in an Almond Crumb Crust with a Raspberry Coulis.”

The photos, as Gus Filgate’s always do, make the mouth water, while Style’s accompanying prose makes each recipe infinitely alluring. There are recipes both for the everyday and the extraordinary, recipes both simple and involved, making this book ideal for the well-rounded cook.

Heaven on the Half Shell

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Heaven on the Half Shell: 
The Story of the Northwest’s 
Love Affair with the Oyster
David G. Gordon, Nancy E. Blanton and Terry Y. Nosho
Washington Sea Grant Program and Westwinds Press, 
copyright 2001
160 pgs
ISBN 0882405470

From the Seattle offices of the Washington Sea Grant Program and the memories of elder oystermen comes this captivating history of the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest, from Northern California to Alaska.

The book begins with an empathic glimpse into the life of an oysterman and his hermaphroditic quarry, the oyster. It goes on to divulge how oysters are cultivated in different countries, how to shuck an oyster without hurting oneself, and a variety of ways to prepare the heavenly mollusk.

All in all, Heaven on the Half Shell is a rare title, both in its topic and quality of information. Its archival significance makes it a must for any well-rounded library.

Little Café Cakes

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Little Café Cakes

By Julie Le Clerc

Photos by Shaun Cato-Symonds

Penguin Books, copyright 2001

104 pgs

ISBN 0141004142

Small, individual cakes remind me of Paris cafés, of low-lit restaurants, of tea time and morning devilry. Tastier and more treat-worthy than muffins, they always tempt when I walk past the baker’s window.

The recipes in Julie Le Clerc’s book are some of the simplest I have encountered, yet they yield perfectly delicate, scrumptious little cakes. If you are a chocolate fan, her “Little Chocolate Bleeding Hearts” will make you dance with delight. The Bleeding Heart is one of those ultimate chocolate cakes that oozes liquid chocolate when you reach its heart, or middle. And then there are the “Honey Syrup Gingerbread Cakes,” the “Grape Nectar Baby Cakes,” and the “Sticky Rice cakes.” And wait: they don’t even sound half as wonderful as they look in the photos taken by Shaun Cato-Symonds.

You will find sticky cakes, sweet cakes, bran cakes and cheesy cakes; a cake for every taste. There are iced cakes and fruitcakes, plain cakes and special cakes. For anyone looking to find recipes that will make them look like a master baker with the smallest effort, this book is it.

Sunny Mediterranean Cuisine

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Sunny Mediterranean Cuisine: 
Vegetarian and Seafood Recipes

Written & published 
by Vefa Alexiadou,
 copyright 2001

Photos by George Drakopoulos

224 pgs

ISBN 9609013732

The author of several cookbooks on Greek cuisine, Vefa Alexiadou takes her reader one step further in her latest book. In Sunny Mediterranean Cuisine she endeavors to use food from around the entire Mediterranean in order to encourage readers to follow a healthier, more naturally balanced diet. Mediterranean food becomes more than just a regional cuisine; it becomes a way of life.

Although her narrative still remains predominantly based on Greek anecdotes, her recipes and ingredients have picked up influences from around the Mediterranean – including Northern Africa, Italy and France. Beautifully illustrated, her recipes range from the complex to the simple: from “Squid Pastitsio” and a “Bean and Vegetable Tart” to “Mussel Soup,” “Pickled Octopus” and “Finnochio Saute.”

Originally intended as a cookbook for Orthodox Christians who fast and exclude most animal-derived foods from their diet, this book is perfect for anyone who loves fish and is looking for a healthier diet that doesn’t compromise taste.

The Guiltless Gourmet:

The Guiltless Gourmet:
 Over 250 Quick and Easy Recipes 
that Are Both Delicious and Nutritious
By Judy Gilliard
Adams Media Corporation,
 copyright 2001

Both a trained gourmand and diabetic, Judy Gilliard has spent much of her life researching the healthy, yet tasty, diet. Here she brings her work to fruition with over 250 recipes that both satisfy the tastebud and make cooking a breeze. Almost every recipe can be completed in five steps or less, and yet there is no sense on the reader’s part that taste or quality will be lacking in the final test: the meal itself.

Gillard’s dishes are, for the most part, familiar to most Western diners. She has adapted recipes from around the world; the book is split by culture into sections, with each section running the medley from starter to dessert. Cuisines covered by Gillard include American, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Mexican, Russian, Spanish and even Scandinavian. The recipes themselves comprise the most essential dishes of each country, ensuring good meals tested by time itself. 

Le Cordon Bleu Kitchen Essentials

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Le Cordon Bleu Kitchen Essentials
by Carroll & Brown Ltd.
John Wiley & Sons, 
copyright 2001

The latest book from the Le Cordon Bleu International school of cooking, Kitchen Essentials is a veritable encyclopedia of kitchen methodology. The book loosely covers all the basic techniques taught at Le Cordon Bleu, from how to hold a piping bag when making rosettes on a cake to how to de-bone, tenderize and prepare almost any kind of fish, meat or poultry. It even covers the vast array of knives, pans and pots used in a most kitchens,and how to utilize them to their fullest potential.

The book moves on from basic techniques and meat preparation to familiarize the reader with almost every kind of vegetable found in a typical Western supermarket, including some of the more exotic finds such as Chayote, Tomatillos, Scotch Bonnet Chilis, and Persimmons. Make no mistake, Kitchen Essentials is not a cookbook, and you will find very few true recipes within it’s crisply illustrated pages. It is probably best suited for the well-rounded chef who needs a fast reference for unknown or forgotten basics. Beginner chefs will certainly find uses for this book, but will no doubt also need a book with more directions.

Simple Recipes in the Italian Style

Simple Recipes in the Italian Style
By Gioietta Vitale 
with Robin Vitetta-Miller
Clarkson Potter,
 copyright 2001

Growing up in Milan, Gioietta Vitale learned to pick the freshest produce at market, and plan her meal around what she had found, rather than tailoring her shopping to predetermined recipes. Verdure is a book for just such a shopper: for the cook who arrives home and finds the only vegetable in the house is an eggplant, and wonders what to do with it.

Vitale’s book covers 22 of the most common vegetables in Western markets, including Asparagus, Beets, Carrots, Cucumbers and String Beans. Each vegetable receives a two-page introduction where the cook learns to identify, evaluate and prepare it in the simplest of ways. Following its introduction, each vegetable stars in a myriad of recipes of which it is the centerpiece, from Baked Asparagus with Béchamel, to Onion Frittata, Zucchini Soup with Croutons, and Cauliflower Salad.

If the recipe titles sound simple, that is because they are. The general rule of thumb, with this book as with all cooking, is to ensure that the cook has selected the best produce available; these recipes have been carefully selected and honed to ensure the maximum taste and enjoyment of each vegetable with minimum preparation requirements.

How to Grill

How to Grill
By Steven Raichlen,
 Photography by Greg Schneider
Workman Publishing Company,
 copyright 2001

  Ever since Prometheus got cheeky and stole fire from the gods, man has remained fascinated with the many uses its new toy. Prometheus’ gift brought man its first hot, smoked meal; along with the meal came man’s never-ending desire to perfect its cooking technique. To be the master of the grill is, to many, to be master of the Fates, not to mention of the realm. The premier open-fire chef can stand tall among his or her peers, having mastered Fire.

From the author of The Barbecue Bible, How to Grill is a compendium of open-fire cooking techniques, a veritable smorgasbord of meat and embers. Steven Raichlen covers all the basics of grilling food, from where and how to safely set up your grilling apparatus, to the utensils and burning materials available, to heat control and grill maintenance.

The layout of book itself is reminiscent of many do-it-yourself home-improvement books, with step-by-step photography, easy to follow directions, and recipe titles that always begin with “How to…” The reader will find instructions on how to grill almost anything the heart desires and the mind can think of, including: Brisket, Tandoori Lamb Chops, Beef Saté, Pulled Pork, Sausages, Whole Fish, Chicken Wings, Lobsters and a large variety of vegetables. Plus, the book also includes many recipes for dipping sauces, marinades and rubs.

How to Grill is a must-have for anyone who strives to be a Master of the Fire. If you’ve never owned a grill, and find the prospect daunting, this book will make it all seem much easier, not to mention tastier.

Zen & the Art of Cooking

Zen & the Art of Cooking
By Jon Sandifer
Sourcebooks/MQ Publications Ltd.,
 copyright 2001

  In his new book, Zen & the Art of Cooking, Jon Sandifer incorporates Zen Buddhism into the kitchen in an entirely refreshing way. Rather than diving right into the art of cooking itself, Sandifer takes a bit of time to acquaint the reader with the basic tenets of Buddhist thought, including the idea that “there are no rules, there is no dogma - you are ultimately your own teacher and guide.” Throughout the book, Sandifer reinforces his main point: that cooking itself can be a form of meditation and a path to enlightenment, a secret that many gourmands have giddily intuited in their own kitchens.

This cookbook has been designed in such a way that when it is read, it’s layout and colors infuse the reader with a sense of relief. One begins to remember that cooking is relaxing -- not a chore, but a self-fulfilling activity. Sandifer’s recipes are almost ridiculously simple, another little know secret of eastern cooking. The complexity of the resulting dishes results then from the fresh combinations of ingredients, and an eastern regard for flavor combinations based on Feng Shui and the Elements.

For after the meal, Sandifer also provides the reader with some simple low-impact exercises and meditations, all designed to raise one’s awareness. Such attention to detail, such dedication to wholeness, is a perfected example of the emerging trend in cookbooks to bring cooking to a truly higher level.

French Fried

French Fried:
 The Culinary Capers of an American in Paris
By Harriet Welty Rochefort
St. Martins Press,
copyright 2001

  French Fried: The Culinary Capers of an American in Paris, the latest book from the author of French Toast, Harriet Welty Rochefort, is a fabulous look into the culture of French cuisine. Witty and unassuming, Rochefort’s prose is a treat in the usually stale world of travel logs based on food. With a handful of recipes scattered throughout the book, French Fried just barely makes it into the cookbook category. However, it’s value as a treatise on French culinary mannerisms is great, particularly to anyone considering moving to France to raise a family.

The book is a strange mix of Rochefort’s own biases and her husband’s. Throughout the book, Rochefort uses her husband as the authority on French manners and preferences: the anecdotal tool works for the most part, although sometimes it seems a bit overly calculated. On one hand, the author’s notions of what American will and will not eat seemed a bit antiquated, given the growing inclination in the United States to experiment with unfamiliar tastes and textures. Her take on Parisian restaurant etiquette was, on the other hand, both accurate and amusing. Overall, French Fried is an enjoyable trip down the author’s memory lane through the world French dining.

The Everything Chocolate Cookbook

The Everything Chocolate Cookbook:
 A chocolate-lover’s dream collection
of cookies, cakes, brownies, candies, and confections
By Laura Tyler Samuels
Adams Media Corporation,
copyright 2000

  I approached this book with trepidation. I couldn’t decide whether it was a dream come true or a nightmare waiting to happen: The Everything Chocolate Cookbook, with over 300 recipes of chocolate goodies? How would I ever survive? Before opening the book, I locked my cookie making cabinets and suited up in full chocolate war gear: sneakers, sweats and stopwatch. Check!

So I was ready. And it was a very good thing: after the necessary chapters on chocolate varieties, companion ingredients and chocolatiers’ tools, Laura Tyler Samuels dove right into truffles and confections, followed by cookies, brownies, muffins, pies, cakes, and even chocolate beverages. I thought I had drowned in Willy Wonka’s chocolate river and gone straight to heaven, omplete with fluffy white chocolate clouds. Here were recipes such as the “Florentine Mousse Towers,” “Cinnamon Mocha Chiffon Cake,” “Congo Fudge” and “Soufflé Ivoire.” There is even a recipe for the chocolate libation served by the Great Gatsby.

Although chocolate always seems to require a bit more preparation and clean up than other sweets, the recipes in this book are both easy to follow and worth the bit of extra effort.

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copyright® 2002