or, comfort and moreWhen it comes to spreading the word about flavorful food, Jim Coleman is front and center. A well-known chef, he's a weekly newspaper columnist, the host of National Public Radio's The Chef's Table and is now in the second season of his public television series, Flavors of America. Jim Coleman's Flavors is the companion volume to that series, but even if you don't watch cooking shows, you can enjoy Coleman's straightforward, no fuss, no fanfare approach to food. I look at hundreds of new cookbooks with thousands of recipes from the magnificent to the mundane, and though I try many dishes once, not too many make it into my permanent repertoire. I knew after the first perusal of Flavors that many of Coleman's wide-ranging, international culinary creations and variations would become part of my menu making. New Jersey Clam Chowder, with pancetta and dill, is a classy variation on a soup that's a standard in my part of the world and his Jicama-Citrus Salad has the crispy zing I've been looking for. Steaming mussels in a broth seasoned with lemongrass, ginger and fresh herbs really is a big hit with my mollusk-loving friends. Burgundy Barbecued Steaks with Crumbled Gorgonzola is short and sweet and hard to beat. And I was truly impressed that the simple addition of pistachio nuts to the crust of a whipped-cream-topped lime pie made such a delicious difference. As an extra, Coleman has spiced the text with nuggets of solid info on all kinds of ingredients from butter and bananas to mustard and Madeira.
Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.