by Sybil PrattMay, 2008
Let my people grill!
Can you improve on the Bible? Big question, but don't worry, this is not a theological debate - I'm just wondering about The Barbecue! Bible, Steven Raichlen's whopper of a world-encompassing, world-class compendium of recipes and in-depth info on every aspect of the grilling/barbecuing experience. And my answer is a resounding yes. The 10th Anniversary edition of The Barbecue! Bible is better than ever, fully updated, with a totally revised techniques chapter based on the latest grills and accessories; full-color, almost-edible photos; and mini-photo essays that illustrate how to lard beef, stuff sausage, spatchcock chicken and more. Perfect for both beginners and buffs (and Father's Day!), the book has more than 500 recipes collected from 25 countries on five continents, from Brazilian churrasco and Mexican carne asado to Indonesian sates and Moroccan mechouie, not to mention homegrown wonders found in Memphis, Kansas City, the Carolinas and Texas. One more question: Was the burning bush a sign to Moses, the Israelites and all who came after to go forth and grill?
SMALL PLATES, BIG SIPS
Drinking, discussing and delighting in wine has become almost as American as apple pie. But wine bars, long a European mainstay, are a newer New World phenomenon, now just beginning to lure both committed connoisseurs and casual consumers. And they're as much about sampling savories - from the simple to the super-sophisticated - as they are about vintages and varietals. Wine Bar Food, Cathy and Tony Mantuano's 100-recipe ode to "Mediterranean flavors to crave with wines to match," takes us out to local wine bars in Venice, Rome, Seville, Barcelona, Nice, Lisbon and Athens, shows us how to make the proffered delicacies at home and suggests affordable wine pairings so we can recreate this leisurely lifestyle in our own backyards and living rooms. In addition to Falafel Crab Cakes, White Asparagus Salad, Italian-inspired salmon gravlox, thinly sliced Grilled Short Ribs and Crispy Parmigiano Flatbread, three chapters offer no-cook options for easy entertaining. Try a dazzling selection of cured meat, an array of imported cheeses or high-quality canned and jarred products that need only a drizzle of olive oil and some crusty bread. Adjust, adapt, pick and choose, fill the glasses and enjoy!
THE ART OF THE SALAD
Salads come in many shapes and sizes. They can be first courses, main dishes or follow-ups, and for Joyce Goldstein, salad savant and a master of Mediterranean cuisine, they're front and center. Goldstein's twin passions were the happy impetus for Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings. She divides this meditation on Mediterranean salads into seven categories, 146 combos in all, ranging from the tender and leafy to the hearty and beefy, with equal attention given to beans, greens, grains and a variety of veggies, seafood and chicken that easily morph into a multitude of small-plate pleasers. You'll find classics, often accented with shavings of cheese, toasted nuts or strips of prosciutto, classics with a twist like Gazpacho Bread Salad, and bright new concepts such as Persian Pomegranate and Cucumber Salad, and Shrimp Salad with Walnut Tarator Dressing. It's not just what goes into the salad that concerns Goldstein, it's what goes on the salad. In other words, you must dress for success, not in a sedate suit with matching pumps, but with a perfect balance of salt, acidity and fat. To that lofty end, she's devised 46 dressings that harmonize with the prime ingredients, not too tame, not too assertive, but in Goldilocks' immortal words, "just right" - as is this entire celebration of salads.