World Cuisine

lattbook.jpgToday I spent an hour at Barnes and Noble browsing through the cookbooks. The ones that seemed most interesting to me featured cooking from Asia. Nobu and Masahara Morimoto have incredibly beautiful books about Japanese cooking. But it was James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor, with his account of cooking in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, that was most appealing. What I liked was his description of street-vendor food, full of flavor and easy to eat.

Years ago when I was experimenting with Vietnamese food, I planted lemongrass in the garden. I didn't use it very much, so the plant grew undisturbed until it had taken over most of the garden. Looking through the Asian cookbooks reminded me about all that lemongrass in the back yard. When I got home I cut off a stalk and came up with an incredibly easy to make shrimp dish.

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texmexcookbookPlease join us for a mucho dog-gone fantastico Tex-Mex BBQ Fiesta! Bill and I are having a party. So far, so good. But, how can I guarantee a dog-gone fantastico meal in Palm Beach when I need a genuine dog-gone Texan to prepare it. Count me out; I grew up in California where Mexican cuisine actually looks pretty and healthy. Not so, Texas. I need someone who understands brown – not green.

The Homesick Texan Cookbook - by the real purdy Lisa Fain - to the rescue. Firstly, I appreciate anyone who “after a fruitless search for tastes of Texas in New York City, takes matters into her own hands.” Secondly the dishes in her ‘own hands’ are wonderful!

Let’s cut to the chase; if you want to cook The Homesick Texan way, you can probably avoid buying cactus but you cannot avoid finding a source for Ro-Tel, a “spiced up can of tomatoes and chiles that is a standard ingredient in any Texan’s larder.” With the above-mentioned Ro-Tel tomatoes you can produce the perfect Chile con Queso. ‘Nuf said. That and a kitchen filled with iron skillets and a thorough knowledge of chiles, starts the delicious trek back to Texas and Tex-Mex heaven.

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SalsasMolesCookbbokLast spring I had the pleasure of interviewing chef and restaurateur Deborah Schneider about salsas for a San Diego Union-Tribune article “Simply Salsa.”At the time, her award-winning 2006 cookbook, Baja! Cooking on the Edge!, named one of the “Best Cookbooks of the Year” by Food and Wine magazine, had just been re-released.

I was tickled. Schneider’s cookbook was the first one I bought after moving to San Diego eight years ago. I thought, I’m gonna talk salsas with Deborah Schneider! Followed seconds later with, It’s salsa. How much can we possibly say about about it?

The interview lasted an hour, though Schneider readily admitted that she could have talked for several more. (Her passion about salsas and their place in Mexican cuisine is deliciously genuine and contagious.)

Now, you too can talk salsas (and moles) with Schneider with her latest cookbook, “Salsas and Moles: Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guacamole, and More.”

In her introduction, Schneider says this book “is designed to teach you essential Mexican cooking techniques and one very important skill: how to introduce and balance big flavors to create sensational effects.” As someone who has made several of the book’s recipes, I can say that the design works.

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hakkacookbookIf you want to try Hakka cuisine, head to Hakka Restaurant in San Francisco, or read Linda Lau Anusasananan's book, The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from around the World. I received a review copy of the book in the Fall, and was lucky enough to dine with the author at Hakka Restaurant recently and fell in love with the hearty robust flavors and comforting rich dishes.

Even if you have other Chinese cookbooks, it's worth getting to know Hakka cuisine, because it's mostly home style cooking, ideal to try in your own kitchen. In the bookk Anusasananan traces her roots and shares stories from the people she meets on her journey into her past.

Since Hakka people moved all over the world, there are stories about the cuisine from places like Peru, Hawaii and certain cities in the US and Canada.

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nobu_west.jpg If we didn’t live in New York or LA (or Tokyo or London), we would have to make something from this cookbook at least once every two weeks, even if we did have to ship some of the ingredients in by mail order.  But it’s the concept of the fusion of the East and West that he does in a way that no one else does, fascinating to read and to experiment with.

Buy Nobu West

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