Fresh & Seasonal

brendabookI always think one of the nicest things to bring home from vacation is a souvenir cookbook from a spot you love. Miz Wilkes’ Boarding House in Savannah comes to mind and on the other end of the spectrum, Nobu or Suzanne Goin’s pick one (AOC, The Tavern, The Larder...).

But I was particularly charmed by Life One Tablespoon at a Time by Brenda Athanus, owner with her sister Tanya of the secret gourmet shop in Lake Country in Oakland, Maine.

It’s part memoir, part recipe, part an homage to other great food writers like MFK Fisher, Amanda Hessler and Calvin Trillen.

Make your own truffles. Celebrate Fiddle Head Ferns, assuming you can find them. The most perfect lobster roll ever! New Year’s Chinese noodles (not sure if that’s for Chinese New Years’ or the regular one) but delicious nonetheless.

It also includes a wonderful tribute to her cooking teacher Madeline Kalman and is sprinkled with stories about their travels, their local “walnut man” (wish I had one of those), their friends, and Brenda’s total love and understanding of excellent food, fresh ingredients, entertaining, laughter, and love.

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visualfood.jpgThe Visual Food Lover's Guide is a terrific resource that I can't stop leafing through. In fact, it has taken up residence next to my bed along with a few other treasured tomes. It has the basic information on how to buy, prepare, cook, serve and store over 1,000 types of food. It also gives you the rundown on nutritional information. It's nowhere near as personal or opinionated as "Jane Grigon's Vegetable Book", but with hundreds of entries it is much more comprehensive.

I really like that there's a color illustration of each item and some photos for techniques like how to make bread or pry open oyster shells. The entry for anise has an illustration of the flowering plant, star anise seeds and pods. That level of detail is what makes it so worthwhile. They've also done a great job making sure that produce and seafood from different geographic locations are included. My only complaint is that the mushroom section is a bit thin. I would have loved to have seen mushrooms such as hedgehog, lobster and lion's mane included.

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salad-263x300.jpgPatricia Wells’ “Bistro Cooking” is a staple in our kitchen. The hearty, fresh, robust, easy-to-follow recipes were inspired by the famous bistros in France and, now, we could make them at home.

So, I was incredibly excited when Patricia Wells’ Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season arrived on our doorstep. It was summer. And she was Patricia Wells. And she understands that salad as a meal isn’t simply two slips of lettuce and a tomato from the garden. It’s salad as a meal!

The salmon gravlax with potato and parmesan galettes. The idea that you could make salmon gravlax at home was incredibly appealing. Okay, it takes three days, but it’s really fun and it’s completely delicious. And what could be wrong with potato and parmesan galettes?! The lobster salad with green beans, apple, and avocado is divine. (My method, order a really large lobster at a restaurant because you’re celebrating something and bring home the leftovers for a salad!) But you can also buy two small lobsters (which aren’t that expensive in the summer) and make the whole thing at home.

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pomegranatebookWould you be inclined to buy a cookbook devoted to burgers, fondue or toast? I wouldn't. None of those things are all that challenging to make in the first place. A whole book on grilled cheese sandwiches? Gimme a break.

Cookbooks on single subjects have to be something special to catch my eye. They have to be varied, cover more than just one meal, and they should intrigue me to try something new and way out of the ordinary.

Pomegranates: 70 Celebratory Recipes is just such a book. Kleinberg's book includes recipes appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Not to mention beverages. Pomegranate juice and syrup is all over the place.

No wonder as it is filled with antioxidants, used in many different cuisines and amazingly versatile. You can use the jewel-like seeds or the juice in recipes that are sweet or savory.

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recipes italian
Excerpt from Recipes from an Italian Summer by The Silver Spoon Kitchen, a collection of 400 never-before-published recipes that capture the essence, ease and freshness of Italian cooking. With beautiful photographs of the Italian countryside and many of the dishes, this book will inspire you to create your own perfect summer event.

Cooking outdoors is the perfect way to entertain during the summer months, and the scents and sounds of cooking on the barbecue create a wonderful appetite for a feast. Another advantage is that cooking on a barbecue means that nobody has to spend their time in the kitchen. A good barbecue should be very simple, and only requires good-quality ingredients to be grilled over hot embers, seasoned with salt and pepper, and perhaps drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

In Italy, the ancient Chianina breed of cattle produces steaks so highly prized that strict rules accompany the technique for grilling them, such as never pricking the meat with a fork so that tasty juices cannot escape. There are also many fish and vegetables that can be grilled very successfully, such as radicchio, eggplants, shrimp, and sardines. These are often cooked with fresh herbs and dressed simple with lemon and extra-virgin olive oil.

The recipes here can also be cooked indoors in a broiler, if a barbecue is not available. All they need to accompany them is a sald and some good bread.

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