Cookery Reviews | December 15, 2005

By Judith Sutton

Ambrosia, Gloria. The Complete Muffin Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Making Great Muffins. Square One, dist. by Ingram. Jan. 2006. c.216p. index. ISBN 0-7570-0179-3. pap. $14.95. COOKERY

The author of two previous muffin cookbooks, Gloria’s Glorious Muffins and Gloria’s Gourmet Low-Fat Muffins, Ambrosia here presents Amber Jewelry, Tea Sets, Sleeping Bags, Wholesale Tea Sets her all-time favorite recipes developed over the years, including both savory and sweet treats, from Raspberry Bouquet Muffins to Mexicali Corn Muffins. Her emphasis is on wholesome, nutritious muffins, and she uses lots of whole grains and prefers honey and other sweeteners to sugar. The recipes are vegetarian as well, and a few of the savory versions include ingredients like "fakin’ bacon." There is also a separate chapter devoted to lower-fat muffins. Ambrosia’s earlier books had many fans; for most baking collections.

Cook’s Illustrated Eds. Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen. Jan. 2006. c.368p. illus. index. ISBN 0-936184-89-2. $34.95. COOKERY

The just-published America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, based on the popular PBS series, is a huge general cookbook with more than 1000 recipes organized into the standard categories of soups, salads, etc. This companion volume to the sixth season of the show follows the format of the series, with 26 themed episodes from "Tex-Mex Favorites" to "Old-Fashioned Birthday Cake." Each chapter includes a couple of master recipes and numerous variations, along with reports from "The Tasting Lab" or "The Equipment Corner" (or both), which rate ingredients and kitchen tools. The television show echoes the approach of the magazine, and here the authors describe "What We Wanted" and "What We Learned" in the course of developing each master recipe. The book is illustrated with hundreds of black-and-white photos and line drawings, along with color photographs of a sampling of the recipes, and it is sure to be in demand.

Evans, Mary Ellen. The One-Dish Chicken Cookbook: 120 Simply Delicious Recipes from Around the World. Broadway. Feb. 2006. c.224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-7679-1824-X. pap. $17.95. COOKERY

Evans is the author of Bistro Chicken, which included traditional and contemporary French bistro dishes. Her latest collection is more diverse, ranging around the globe, from Colombian Chicken Soup to Greek-Style Feta-Topped Chicken with Ouzo to All-American Skillet Chicken Pot Pie. Some of the recipes are rather familiar, while others will be new to most readers. There are both slow-cooked and quick dishes here, and although they are essentially one-dish main courses, Evans does include serving suggestions for rounding out the meal. Recommended.

Great Cakes: Home-Baked Creations from the Country Living Kitchen. Hearst: Sterling. Dec. 2005. 128p. photogs. index. ISBN 1-58816-404-7. $19.95. COOKERY

Here are 50 cake recipes selected from the pages of Country Living magazine. The recipes (which seem to be arranged in no particular order) are mostly on the homier side – Stacked Applesauce Cake and the like – but there are some more elaborate creations, such as a Chocolate Roulade (which serves 28), for more festive occasions. Fans of the magazine, of course, will welcome this compilation, but there are many other books on the topic, such as Carole Walter’s excellent (and similarly titled) Great Cakes, which includes more than 250 recipes. For larger collections.

Joyce, Jennifer. Small Bites: Tapas, Sushi, Mezze, Antipasti, and Other Finger Foods. DK. 2005. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-7566-1347-7. $20. COOKERY

Joyce, a London-based American food writer and cooking teacher, is the coauthor of Diva Cooking: Unashamedly Glamorous Party Food. Here she presents sophisticated recipes for delectable tidbits (some are finger food, but others do require a fork or spoon) perfectly suited to entertaining, whether for a casual get-together or an elegant meal. The recipes are organized into chapters, such as "Fried" or "Skewers," or by main ingredient, and each offers suggestions for several complementary recipes to serve alongside, as well as a few simpler dishes, described as "Buy and Arrange" – though most of these require a bit more than just setting out a plate of store-bought olives or charcuterie. There are also six full-scale menus (e.g., "Bollywood Nights"), each of which provides ideas for tableware and color schemes, a game plan, and a recipe for a special party drink. The individual recipes include prep times and useful make-ahead guidelines. All of the recipes are shown in mouth-watering full-color photographs, and the striking design adds to the appeal of the book. Strongly recommended.

Madison, Deborah. Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. Broadway. Feb. 2006. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-7679-1628-X. $27.50. COOKERY

The latest book from the talented Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) is a lovely collection of more than 100 vegetarian soup recipes for all seasons. There are four chapters of recipes grouped by main ingredient – e.g., "Hearty Bean Soups" – followed by chapters of recipes for each season, from Spring Asparagus Soup Three Ways to a hearty winter Potato and Green Chile Stew. Madison begins with a helpful introduction to the basics of making a good vegetable soup, with lots of ideas for improvising, and many of the recipes include suggestions for variations. There are also sidebars on ingredients and other relevant topics throughout, along with wine (or beer) suggestions for each soup. For all collections.

M’Souli, Hassan (text) & Joe Filshie (photogs.). Moroccan Modern. Interlink: Interlink Pub. Group. 2005. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 1-56656-612-6. pap. $29.95. COOKERY

Born in Morocco, M’Souli has been the chef/owner of several Moroccan restaurants in Sydney, Australia; his current spot, Out of Africa, is one of the city’s most popular. The 100 recipes he offers here showcase the stylish version of Moroccan or Moroccan-inspired food he serves, such as Grilled Octopus, Preserved Lemon, and Roasted Pepper Salad with Saffron Dressing. He provides a brief introduction to the Moroccan kitchen, traditional favorites, and essential ingredients, but it would have been helpful to have more background on the recipes themselves. Nevertheless, other than Paula Wolfert’s classic Couscous and Other Good Food and several titles by Kitty Morse, Moroccan cookbooks are few and far between, and this is recommended for most collections.

Pendleton, Leslie Glover. Simply Shellfish: Quick and Easy Recipes for Shrimp, Crab, Scallops, Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Lobster, Squid, and Sides. MorrowCookbooks: HarperCollins. Mar. 2006. c.208p. index. ISBN 0-06-073500-7 [ISBN 978-0-06-073500-5]. $24.95. COOKERY

The subtitle basically says it all. In the follow-up to her Simply Shrimp, Salmon, and (Fish) Steaks, Pendleton offers uncomplicated recipes using our favorite shellfish (no cuttlefish here). A few are not so quick, and some of these dishes are found in many other fish cookbooks, but shellfish lovers will find some new recipes to tempt them. For larger collections.

Sparks, Katy with Andrea Strong (text) & Quentin Bacon (photogs.). Sparks in the Kitchen. Knopf. Jan. 2006. c.352p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-4000-4355-7. $30. COOKERY

Sparks has cooked at a number of well-known New York City restaurants and was chef at Quilty’s in Soho for five years, where she gained a loyal following; she is now culinary director of Balducci’s gourmet retail markets. In this very personal cookbook, she presents the food she likes to cook at home for family and friends, recipes that do not require a brigade of sous-chefs but that do reflect her perspective and experience as a chef; among these recipes are Roasted Black Mussels with Almond-Garlic-Thyme Butter, Kabocha Squash Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger, and Venison with Fox Grape Poivrade. Her recipe instructions are very reader-friendly, and she provides a lot of information in an unintimidating way. Her cookbook will appeal to ambitious home cooks and, of course, fans of her restaurants. For area libraries and other larger collections.

von Bremzen, Anya. The New Spanish Table. Workman. Dec. 2005. c.416p. photogs. index. ISBN 0-7611-3994-X. $35; pap. ISBN 0-7611-3555-3. $19.95. COOKERY

The widely traveled von Bremzen is also the author of Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook and The New Pacific Table, among other titles. A frequent visitor to Spain since the early 1980s, she has watched the culinary revolution that has recently made some of that country’s chefs into international names. Her latest book provides a fascinating look at this new cuisine, with recipes (adapted for the home kitchen) from Ferran Adriá and other celebrated chefs, but fortunately she does not dismiss the favorite regional dishes that are hallmarks of traditional Spanish cooking (she admits that her recipe selection leans to her two favorite regions, Catalonia and the Basque country). So classics like Patatas Bravas and Garlic Soup are here, next to recipes for such inventions as Cherry and Beet Gazpacho, "Deconstructed" Tomato Bread, and Scallops with Candied Lemon. There are sidebars on ingredients, history, and other culinary topics, along with stories about the chefs, home cooks, and artisans she encountered, and there are color photographs of the food and the cities and countryside throughout. An essential purchase.

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