I’m a big fan of the “Everyday Food” cookbooks served up by the talented, tireless toilers in the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. These are the stalwarts I turn to when my own quota of quotidian recipes seems uninspired. The latest is Everyday Food: Light, with 250 recipes all under 500 calories. This time around, there are tips on flavor boosters and techniques and tools for lighter cooking (like steaming and poaching). As before, the dishes are organized by season, so you can find the right, light, every-night dish throughout the year, and the header notes are extra-informative. Velvety Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup and Irish Lamb Stew are perfect winter comfort dishes. When it warms up, we’ll enjoy Spring-Vegetable Couscous with Chicken, then summery Gazpacho, and Scallop, Orange and Cucumber Kebabs, and when autumn falls, Roasted Chicken and Pears and Apple-Parsnip Mash will take center stage.
SLOW COOKING IN FRENCH
The last time Michele Scicolone taught a slow cooker to speak a foreign language, it was Italian; now her multilingual kitchen assistant can parlez like a Parisian, and the results are magnifique. In The French Slow Cooker, she shows us how slow-cooker-made stews, soups and pot roasts can take on that Gallic je ne sais quoi, and how, miraculously, soufflés, so quintessentially French, puff perfectly in the gentle heat of a slow cooker, eliminating all that anxious timing. It’s hard to think of a classic that doesn’t benefit from this time- and energy-saving technique, from a Provençal Soupe au Pistou, Duck Confit, Bouillabaisse and Potatoes Pipérade to Bistrot Crème Caramel and chocolaty Reine de Saba. To impress your guests, you can turn out an elegant Chicken Liver Mousse or Country Pâté without mess or stress. With Michele’s solid step-by-step instructions in hand and a slow cooker on the counter, you’ll make your grand-mère proud.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
I usually stay away from special diet cookbooks, but I’m breaking my self-imposed rule for Barbara Kafka’s The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food Without Gluten & Lactose. My husband of many years, who would gladly live on ice cream and cookies, has gradually become lactose- and gluten-intolerant, as have many of our friends, and I’ve had to change the way I cook. Most of the lactose- and gluten-free cookbooks I looked at didn’t fill the bill. We love to entertain, so I needed guidance. Barbara to the rescue! Barbara’s cookbooks are fabulous; she understands excellence and how to pass that knowledge on. I was sure that with this particular intolerant gourmet as a guide, we’d be in good hands. And after following her recipes these past few months, I can solemnly swear that there really is “glorious food” without gluten and lactose and without ersatz ingredients. As you work your way from breakfast to dinner and dessert, you might find yourself singing, à la Edith Piaf, “Non, je ne regrette rien.”