by Sybil PrattDecember, 2003
Gourmet gifts for ambitious cooks
They're big, they're beautiful -- perfect gifts for everyone on your list who loves to serve and eat good food.
'Tis the celebratory season, and Sheila Lukins, the renowned food writer and coauthor of the beloved Silver Palate cookbooks, knows just how to bring family and friends together for festive meals. Her sparkling cookbook, aptly titled Celebrate!, offers 350 special recipes that are used to create 43 menus for special occasions, large and small. Wonderfully designed, with tips and tidbits tucked between recipes, amply illustrated, this is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.
Marcus Samuelson, the brilliant young James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of Aquavit, a three-star-spangled New York destination restaurant, uses his Swedish roots as the culinary springboard for his fabulous, innovative style. Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine, Samuelson's much-awaited first cookbook, lets us into the special world of contrasting flavors, textures and temperatures that define his cooking. Lusciously illustrated with more than 100 full-color images, it's a gorgeous presentation and a gorgeous present.
Through the sales of their cookbooks, the good women of the Junior League have developed the perfect recipe for promoting volunteerism and for raising money to fund the programs needed in their communities. These homegrown, home-tested cookbooks are also a great way for League members to share their favorites with folks across the country. The Junior League at Home, the most ambitious League offering yet, has more than 400 recipes, as well as ideas for stress-free entertaining, tablescapes and dining decor. This all-new collection, wrapped in an easy-to-use concealed spiral binding, highlights and celebrates the diversity of the League's members.
Pino Luongo, famed chef and restaurateur, is Tuscan through and through, so whether he's cooking traditional Italian food or experimenting with the new and non-Italian, he just can't help putting a Tuscan spin on it it's in his culinary blood. La Mia Cucina Toscana, written with Andrew Friedman and Marta Pulini, honors both his Tuscan heritage and his more than 20 years in America; indigenous American ingredients and influences infuse dishes that have their roots in the classic Tuscan kitchen. His results, which now can be every ambitious cook's, too, are vibrant and exciting as is this most attractively packaged book.
East of Paris: The New Cuisines of Austria and the Danube is David Bouley's stunning, elegant tribute to contemporary Austrian food. With Mario Lohninger, Bouley creates fresh, ingredient-driven dishes that combine classic Austrian technique with influences from around the world the cuisine that would have possibly emerged if the Austro-Hungarian Empire still existed. Arranged by the four seasons, there are additional chapters on the signature dishes from the Danube, Bouley's spectacular New York restaurant, and on the renowned Viennese coffeehouse sweets. The recipe selections are accessible for home cooks, yet so opulent that average guys and gals will feel like Hapsburg royalty.
Paula Wolfert's cookbooks and articles have made her the mega-maven of Mediterranean cooking. The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cookis her latest paean to the pleasures of those sun-drenched lands. Wolfert extends an eloquent invitation to revel in voluptuous, sensual eating, through the preparation of handcrafted dishes to be enjoyed in a leisurely way.