Jewish cooking in France? Not as odd as it sounds. Jews have been living in France for over 2,000 years, and the food they serve mingles Ashkenazic, Sephardic and Provençal Jewish culinary traditions with French regional cooking. Joan Nathan, author of many beloved cookbooks and mega-maven of Jewish cuisine, has combined her long love affair with France and equally long and strong involvement with Jewish cooking in Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France. A wonderful blend of history, great recipes and affecting personal stories gathered in kitchens and dining rooms from Paris to Alsace and beyond, it’s studded with delightful essay-style asides on anise-flavored challah, Foie Gras (kosher and non), Shabbat with the Grand Rabbi of Bordeaux and much more. And Nathan’s selection of dishes is as rich as the French Jewish experience—Leek Terrine from Colmar, Tunisian Passover Spring Vegetable Ragout, Friday Night Algerian Chicken Fricassee, Brandade Potato Latkes and Alsatian Rhubarb Tart.
GENUINELY GOOD FOOD
Michael Schwartz, chef/owner of the much lauded Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, believes that “the secret to good food is . . . good food” and encourages you to “spend more time shopping than cooking,” looking carefully and choosing wisely no matter where you shop. Though he stresses a seasonal, ingredient-driven approach in his debut cookbook, Michael’s Genuine Food, he doesn’t beat you up about it. Check out his admirable intro if you want to get the full flavor of his style, or just dig into this intriguing collection of recipes that reflects what Michael calls his “East Coast version of California cuisine.” There’s a fresh, fun feeling in these 95 dishes—Crispy Polenta Fries and Kimchi Quesadillas are great alternatives to the usual. Keep on cooking and you’ll find Steamed Mussels with Tomato Harissa Broth, Curried Lentil Stew with Greek Yogurt and a to-die-for, chocolate-drenched Banana Toffee Panini for a sweet finish. Nothing is fussy or pretentious, everything is doable in your kitchen and packed with Michael’s unique take on genuine flavor.
COOKBOOK OF THE MONTH
One-dish dinners are the perfect answer to the chronic question of how to create memorable meals without caving in or stressing out. Now Pam Anderson, who excels at expelling the anxiety of entertaining, offers us Perfect One-Dish Dinners, a fabulous, freeing, foolproof collection of all-in-one main courses, each accompanied by a wine pairing, an appetizer and a dessert. Pam also supplies “instant alternatives,” good store-bought starters like Manchego cheese and quince paste, or lemon-curd-infused vanilla ice cream for an unbeatably easy ending. The Stews for All Seasons include a spicy Salsa Verde chicken topped with herbed cornmeal dumpling and Prunes and a sensational seafood/sausage Frogmore Stew. If you’re feeding the troops, try her Quick, Creamy Lasagna that serves 12 or any one of the three riffs on Enchiladas, and if summer ever comes again, the Grilled Salad Niçoise with fresh tuna steaks and the Grilled Antipasto Platter bathed in Feta Vinaigrette will wow family and friends. Every dish, every menu is Pam-perfect, as expected.