by Sybil PrattFebruary, 2009
A perfect '10'
When Sheila Lukins, co-author of the iconic Silver Palate Cookbook and author of many more celebrated cookbooks, put together a list of her very favorite foods, she settled on 32—some with seasonal ingredients, some classic types of dishes, some "all-out‚" passions. Then she came up with the grand idea of choosing her 10 favorite variations for each favorite food and voila, Ten: All the Foods We Love and Ten Perfect Recipes for Each. I doubt many us could improve on Sheila's favorites or on the 10 recipes included in each of these 32 chapters. Even if you might want to add a personal preference or two, you'll find many more for your own recipe repertoire. Lukins is a fabulous innovator, quick to see the how changing a main ingredient gives a classic new, needed zing: sweet, spicy Curry Butternut Mash; Buffalo Shrimp (not chicken wings) with Blue Cheese Sauce and a few crisp veggies; Pork Marengo with a sprinkle of mint; deep-flavored Pot Roast Paprikash; Lobster Cobb Salad; Asparagus, Caviar, and Chopped Egg Spaghettini; an Apple Vichyssoise served hot or cold. Lukins is as chatty and chummy as always, serving up great header notes, thorough directions and helpful boxed asides with menus and advice on ingredients and prep. You can't get that perfect "10‚" in Olympic gymnastics anymore, but you can get it for a cookbook and my vote here is a perfect 10!
Food of the gods
Theobroma cacao, the scientific name for chocolate, means "food of the gods‚" and most of us would agree that chocolate, in all its many forms, is truly ambrosial and utterly divine. Hot, cold, light, dark, brown, white, sweet, bitter, solid or liquid—it's the passion and pleaser of millions worldwide. Two new, fittingly sumptuous cookbooks have come on the scene that pay proper homage to this magical substance. Jacques Torres, former pastry chef at Le Cirque and dean of pastry at the French Culinary Institute in New York, owns his own chocolate factory in Brooklyn and retail outlets in Manhattan. Jacques Torres' A Year in Chocolate has 80 recipes for holidays and special occasions from Valentine Sweethearts (two kinds of creamy mousse sandwiched between crisp cookie hearts), Chocolate Marshmallow Eggs and Chocolate-Covered Matzo for festivities soon at hand to Chocolate Sticky Buns, Pain au Chocolat, Poached Pears with Chocolate Fondue and a Buche de Noel. Some of Torres' fabulous creations are quite challenging, but his instructions are detailed, often broken down into doable parts and the accompanying photos are downright inspirational. You will need to read carefully, check out the special equipment and ingredients and allow yourself plenty of time—but the results will be stunners and beyond luscious.
The Golden Book of Chocolate, with more than 300 recipes, 300 photos and 700 gilt-edged pages, aims to cover the chocolate spectrum. Twelve separate chapters are devoted to sweet chocolate goodies and one to some unusual savory dishes like Shrimp with Chocolate Sauce. The first recipe is for venerable Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and the last for a Basic Chocolate Sponge, but in between you'll find Chocolate Cheese Cake Bars, Chocolate Millefeuille, Chocolate Zabaglione, Chocolate Marquise, White Chocolate Lime Pie, Grand Marnier Truffles and more than enough to satisfy a chocoholic's wildest dreams.
Master class with Martha the Magnificent
Martha Stewart is the mega-maven of modern living, a guiding light on cooking, entertaining, gardening, decorating and weddings. In Martha Stewart's Cooking School, she offers a serious how-to: a full culinary curriculum that will give the skills and confidence to go forth and cook anything and everything. With more than 200 recipes and 500 instructional color photographs, this is Martha to the max!