by Sybil PrattJune 2008
Eat smart with the Google gourmet
It's no surprise that the guys who founded Google are brilliant. What is a surprise is that back when the company was small, 52 people in all, Larry Page and Sergey Brin understood that supplying their brainy, eclectic employees with well-prepared, healthy, organic, sustainably sourced food would not only make them happy, but make them all the more productive. The Google guys wanted "power foods" that would leave their hardworking wunderkinds alert and energetic after a meal. So, they hired Charlie Ayers. When Charlie left six years later, he had five sous-chefs and 150 employees working in 10 cafes on the expanded Google campus, serving 4,000 lunches and dinners every day to the exponentially expanded Google team. Food 2.0 is chef Ayers' beautifully illustrated distillation of his "secrets," the recipes and philosophy that fed the brain trust. First, he urges you to make "smart choices" - go organic, eat lots of raw fruits and veggies, nature's answer to real fast food. Then he organizes your staples into the "smart pantry," which becomes a cool, timesaving "cook's database." More than 100 recipes follow, from 14 sensational smoothies for breakfast on the run, midday marvels like Apple and Brie Quesadillas and Cauliflower-Almond-Garlic Soup to an international array of rewarding, relaxing dinners including Goan Pork, Fattoush and Japanese Beef Curry. Be smart, eat smart; if it worked for Google, it can work for you.
SERVING UP SUMMER
Summer is special, the time of year when "the song sings itself," as William Carlos Williams so lyrically wrote. Though a summertime meal really can't cook itself, the dishes we serve should mirror the pleasures of sunny days and balmy nights. Summer on a Plate is Anna Pump's expert guide to doing just that, with more than 120 recipes designed for the summer season and its glorious bounty. Anna opened Loaves and Fishes, a gourmet shop in East Hampton that's become a culinary landmark in that celebrity-studded Long Island summer colony, more than 25 years ago, so she's had plenty of time to test and fine-tune her recipes for memorable, no-fuss meals that, she promises, can be prepared in one hour or under. From the very first recipe in the book, a divine Grainy Mustard Sauce, made with honey and creme fraiche, to the very last, tangy, buttery Lemon Bars, you'll find everything you need to make summer sparkle - starters, soups, sandwiches, salads and sides, mains that go on the grill or sautee on the stove, and dreamy desserts that say "summer."
SOME LIKE IT HOT
The word curry doesn't exist in any of India's 23 official languages and 1,600 dialects. But the hundreds, if not thousands, of sensational, spice-laden, sauce-based dishes that do exist in all their regional splendor make the combined cuisines of the subcontinent one of the culinary wonders of the world. Raghavan Iyer's exciting, revelatory new cookbook, 660 Curries, offers an introduction to the salty, sour, sweet, pungent and bitter building blocks of Indian flavors and a glorious in-depth tour of India's vibrant, redolent curries - contemporary and traditional - plus biryanis, breads, pilafs, pickles, relishes, raitas and a trio of desserts. They come from all over, Kashmir, Kerala, Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan and Goa to name a few, and feature spinach, squash and scallops, chickpeas, chicken and chiles, lentils, lamb, lotus root and much more. Raghavan's enthusiasm and love for all Indian edibles infuses these recipes; he's added excellent headnotes, helpful tips on techniques, ingredients and serving suggestions and advice on how to buy, store, grind and blend spices into an awesome array of pastes and powders. Contrary to popular belief, it does not take a village to make authentic Indian food - it only takes Raghavan Iyer's clear instructions and inspiring insights.