There’s a green sheen on Emeril Lagasse, as there is now on most cookbook authors, restaurateurs and anyone else talking publicly about food. His new book, Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh, is this kick-it-up-a-notch celebrity chef’s nod to the current requirement to pay homage to fresh and local foods. Take Emeril at his word: He buys only the best ingredients, knows his purveyors, focuses on the super-seasonal and wants you to do the same. Freshness philosophy understood, it’s Emeril’s recipes—over 150, with their detailed instructions and fun, informative headers—that make this a really worthwhile new source. Check out the herb oils, Pickled Green Beans and easy, non-canned Peach Freezer Jam. And don’t miss the Cantaloupe and Pancetta Cream Sauce for Pasta (sounds like a weird combo, but it’s really good), Toasted Garlic Romano Beans, and Apricot Clafouti. Emeril, tinged with green or not, is always a good bet.
DINING WITH DONNA LEON
To Commissario Guido Brunetti, the appealing Venetian detective who stars in Donna Leon’s celebrated mystery series, eating well, in a way that provides “as much physical pleasure as possible,” is fundamental to living a happy life. Brunetti solves crimes, muses on the problems that beset Venice and savors the fabulous meals cooked by his wife, Paola. These succulent lunches and dinners have become so central to the series that fans have been clamoring for the recipes. Now nearly 100 Brunetti-inspired recipes by Roberta Pianaro, Leon’s dearest Venetian friend and gastronomic guide, have been gathered in Brunetti’s Cookbook, along with six original essays by Leon herself and book excerpts highlighting Brunetti’s favorite dishes. They range from antipasti to dolci—some familiar, such as Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, and others, like Rabbit with Olives and Walnuts, engagingly unfamiliar. One caveat: Roberta’s instructions are done in Italian style and assume some kitchen know-how and ease with ingredients. And some of these ingredients—Trevisio radicchio or cuttlefish eggs, for example—might be a bit difficult to find, but are well worth the effort.
COOKBOOK OF THE MONTH
Rick Bayless is the undisputed Big Enchilada of Mexican cooking north of the border. With his six previous cookbooks, PBS series, restaurants and product line, he has turned many gringos into avid aficionados of the real cocina Mexicana. This time around, Rick’s kicking back and having a party, and we’re all invited. To join the fun, open a copy of Fiesta at Rick’s: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends, pick a party, choose a few recipes and pour a few cocktails. Rick is a master at riffing on Mexican mainstays like guacamole (at least nine riffs), ceviche (six riffs) and margaritas (lost count while tasting), using his deep understanding of vibrant Mexican flavors to innovate and his cooking know-how to make his recipes totally doable in American kitchens. Want to have a Luxury Guacamole Bar Cocktail Party, with the added sparkle of Champagne Margaritas? No problema! There’s a menu, recipes and a game plan with serving strategies that tell you what to do and when. Same goes for a Summertime Seafood Cocktail Party or a Fall Fiesta. Buen provecho!