No, I haven't flipped out and flipped the calendar forward to December the season is now, the wow time for nature's bounty. Who better than Deborah Madison, the Queen of Greens, to show us how to make the most of the superb selection of fruits and veggies that fill local markets and farm stands? Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets is Ms. Madison's ode to seasonal shopping, cooking and eating, her paean to produce that's sold where it grows, by the people who grow it. She makes a very convincing case for bypassing our seasonless, soulless supermarkets and concentrating, when you can, on what's in season where you live. Madison has arranged her recipes as you might find them arrayed in a market, botanically or seasonally related fruits and veggies together. Her categories are fluid and the recipes in them fabulous, well thought-out and introduced with the savvy and enthusiasm of a fine cook. You can delight in the heat and height of summer with a dish of silky textured Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Baked with Herbs and Capers, crunchy Corn Fritters with Aged Cheddar and Arugula and so much more. And she offers wonderful ways to enjoy the zillions of zucchs and the millions of melons that ripen on vines everywhere. With Madison's expert guidance, you'll know what to look for from the days of early spring to the nippy nights of autumn and you'll want to tune into FM (Farmers' Markets, that is) all the time. Street treatsTraveling around the Mediterranean is a joy and a good part of that joy is eating, not only in restaurants, but also on the street from vendors selling everything from soups to sweets. I've been faced with the to eat or not to eat quandary on the streets of lots of wonderfully exotic places and have not always handled the question that can lead to indigestion in the best possible way. But now, Anissa Helou offers us the perfect way to have the serendipity of savoring street food without the prospect of losing it later. In Mediterranean Street Food Ms. Helou has collected 85 recipes for soups, snacks, salads, sandwiches, sweets, kebabs and keftas, breads, dips and more. They come from Spain, France, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Lebanon and Syria (I may have missed a few) and with her inviting recipe headers, packed with culinary and cultural information, you can armchair-travel while deciding what to cook. Arranged by type rather than order of eating, the recipes range from the truly simple (Farinata, a large chickpea flour pancake, is made with only three ingredients, and Harissa, a pungent paste of dried chilies and garlic, can be quickly whipped up in the processor) to the more complex (Chicken Tagine with Potatoes and Peas or Koshari, a comforting concoction of rice, lentils and vermicelli, topped with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions). You can organize three-course dinner menus with starters, main courses and desserts or just make a fabulous selection of great grazing dishes. Whichever way you go, Mediterranean magic will flow. Tex-Mex rexThough Tex-Mex has become almost as American as apple pie, many of us think it means soggy beans and gooey nachos. You'll rethink that conclusion big-time once you've cooked under the well-tuned tutelage of Diana Barrios Trevi–o, the second generation owner/chef of Los Barrios Restaurant in San Antonio. Started by her widowed mother in 1979, Los Barrios is the Tex-Mex star in a city that boasts more than 800 Tex-Mex eateries. It was singled out by Emeril Lagasse for a segment on Good Morning America and named one of the 100 Best New Restaurants in America by Esquire magazine. Diana and her mother cook casero style traditional Mexican home cooking with family recipes passed down from generation to generation.
Now, Diana passes the culinary riches of her roots on to us in Los Barrios Family Cookbook: Tex-Mex Recipes from the Heart of San Antonio. You'll find tasty treasures to spice up your day from morning til night Potato and Egg Tacos for a bright take on breakfast, Corn and Avocado Salad with a creamy green-gold avocado dressing, tangy Texas Caviar, gorgeously garlicky Pork tips in Red Chile Sauce, surprisingly easy Sweet Potato SoufflÅ½, crowd-pleasing Tortilla and Black Bean Casserole, creamy Flan and cinnamon-scented Mexican Hot Chocolate, all accompanied by straightforward, no-fuss directions. Some of these dishes are amigos from way back, some are new to Norte Americanos, but all add a fiesta feel to meals for friends and family.