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Foodie World News

For the cooking nerds out there…

Some of you may have heard that Gourmet Magazine has closed up shop.  I’m not super familiar with the whole history but both Gourmet and Bon Appetit have been around for a long, long time, and lots of folks are very sad about it.  I, on other hand, am SO relieved it wasn’t Bon Appetit.  Since all the rest of my favorite magazines went under this year one by one, it’s about the only exciting thing left that I expect in the mail.  I get a LOT of my recipes from there…I’d say Bon Appetit (and the sister website, Epicurious.com, which also cataloged Gourmet’s recipes) and Barefoot Contessa supply about 85% of my recipes.  So I’m breathing a big sigh of relief that if one of the big foodie rags had to end, it wasn’t mine.  It seems like the Editor in Chief, Barbara Fairchild, does a great job of keeping BA relevant, with a blog, facebook page, etc.  And the content is also relevant to the younger cooks, with popular bloggers writing columns and Fairchild herself serving as a guest judge on cooking TV shows like The Next Food Network Star and Hell’s Kitchen.  I just read this interesting article about her some of you might be interested in.

And in other news, there have been a few new cookbooks released recently.  The BA Foodist, the Bon Appetit blog I was referring to above, had an interesting article on some of the newly released, highly anticipated cookbooks of the fall yesterday.  The one that really caught my eye is the one called My Bread.  Apparently the NY Times article that the author wrote about his unique, very easy bread-making technique was the one of the most searched articles in NY Times history!  I have a vague memory of reading it a while ago, but bread is one of those things I just don’t get excited about trying.  Cheese, oui; bread, sounds like too much work.  But after educating myself reading the reviews of the book, it sounds like it might be worth a shot!  The guy’s method is to basically dump all the ingredients for the bread in a bowl at one time all together, let it rise for a while without doing anything else, and then bake it in a lidded dutch oven – and apparently that creates PERFECT crusty delicious bread.  That actually sounds do-able…and I’m enticed even more by the variations and recipes he suggests, including an apparently killer pizza dough.  And you all know how I feel about pizza.  So the book is intriguing and has landed on my wishlist.

My Bread

One new release that I am quite disappointed didn’t make the list in the article above is called My New Orleans, by John Besh.  Besh is a native of the city, and one of it’s most celebrated chefs.  He has a handful of restaurants in the city that regularly are counted among the best.  It looks like this book has TONS of great recipes and whole chapters on crab, gumbo, THANKSGIVING! (everyone email my husband and tell him I NEED it for our Thanksgiving feast this year!!!), strawberries, and Mardi Gras.  Something about the way it’s organized and the foods and events he’s drawn out make me love this book already.  I haven’t yet gotten to go ‘visit’ it at the bookstore and see how complicated the recipes are, but the one recipe on the Amazon page doesn’t look bad at all.  Yet another one for the wishlist!

My New Orleans

(sorry for the lousy picture I hijacked off Amazon)

Today it is pouring rain in Chapel Hill, and it’s definitely chilly weather now, and that is a combination that makes me RUN to my kitchen to cook…nothing like something hot and bubbly and smelling wonderful in my big red dutch oven on a rainy day!  And these cookbooks are a great inspiration to get to it!  Stay dry, y’all!

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A Homemade Life: Book Review

Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life is a book I’ve been anxious to read for about a year now.  I first met Molly in her Bon Appetit column, where she tackles a dish a month, often french in origin, with self-effacing good humor and an appealingly relaxed manner.  The header noted she was recently married (as was I) and the author of a popular food blog, Orangette, so it was only a matter of time til I took a look at her blog and loved it immediately.  What I like about Molly is that she is very REAL.  She’s up front about the fact that many meals at her house are thrown together from what’s in the kitchen and totally unglamourous, and that sometimes she doesn’t feel like cooking.  But when she does feel like cooking, she cooks wonderful food.  It’s never too complicated, it’s usually fairly healthy, it has nice french influences from her time living in Paris, and it always seems tied to stories.

So I’d been following her blog for several months, and had made some really delicious things from her suggestions, when she announced she was coming out with a book!  Really an ideal sort of cooking book – part memoir, part recipes.  I think this is a perfect combination because to me the most interesting things about food are the stories and people that intersect with a great dish.  Cooking is an artistic expression, and like any other art form, those who practice it well put themselves and their story into their creations.  I was looking forward to having a book of Molly’s recipes on the shelf in my kitchen, as well as the stories about how she became who she is as a cook, and why she cooks what she cooks.

The book is organized into many short chapters.  Each tells the story of a memorable moment in her life.  Many deal with her family’s love of cooking and eating together when she was young, her dad’s death from cancer, her experience living in Paris post-college, and meeting her now-husband.  The short tales involve food in some way, and at the end of the chapter she gives the recipe.  I want to make almost ALL these recipes…Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake…Doron’s Meatballs with Pine Nuts, Cilantro and Golden Raisins…Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache…Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese…Brandon’s Chana Masala.  I love how even the names are tied to the people!

Molly writes with good humor, and finds the right things important (a precise recipe for French Toast) and the right things unimportant (the way the dish looks, as long as it tastes good).  I love that she includes a ‘recipe’ for french snacks like chocolate and bread, or butter and radishes.  This is a woman that loves well – her family and her friends are clearly the center of her life – and the obvious delight she takes in preparing and sharing food with them is an inspiration.  That’s why I cook…that’s how cooking can be a joy, and not a chore or a means to an end.  If food and cooking is wrapped up in friendships, memories, laughs and long dinners for you too, you’ll love this book.

 

A Homemade Life

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It might sound like a dumb question, but it’s a piercing one to anyone who’s lived in and loved the city of New Orleans and hears that song.  The answer is always a resounding ‘yes!’, and you can instantly think of a dozen things that you miss profoundly.  I lived in New Orleans for an all-too-brief but perfectly wonderful year and a half while I was in graduate school at Tulane in 2003-2004.  I chose Tulane for several good reasons, but one of the major ones was that I thought I just might love living in that city, and it would be a fun adventure.  I was right.  I fell hard for New Orleans, more than any other place I’ve lived, and I still miss it almost every day.

Sara Roahen’s love story to New Orleans and its food, Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, is the most accurate and poignant description of what it means to fall under the city’s spell that I’ve ever read.  Like me, she moved to New Orleans in her twenties with little prior experience with the city; like me she talks about and thinks about food the way that North Carolinians talk about UNC basketball (which is to say, pathologically obsessed); like me she loves public radio and hates mayonnaise; and like me, she was forever ruined for other cities by becoming a New Orleanian.  I totally identified with this lady, and I thought she was hilarious.

Ostensibly this book is about the food culture of New Orleans, and it does talk a lot about the food, but as she says, “…by New Orleans food culture, of course I mean its very heart.”  You can’t really separate the food from the general character of the city, which is definitely one of the things I loved about it.  New Orleans joyfully celebrates eating well (and this almost never means ‘healthy’ or ‘lowfat’) without apology, and I love that.  Roahen’s memories of the city are pinned to food experiences and the places she enjoyed them…she’s mapped New Orleans through her stomach. 

Gumbo Tales covers some of the most iconic, and a few of the lesser known, New Orleans classics: Sazeracs, Sno-balls, Po-boys, Turducken, Crawfish, Pho (Vietnamese food!), King Cake, Coffee and Chicory, Red Beans and Rice, and Oysters.  She gives some history on the dishes or ingredients, describes the various ways it’s prepared, where you can eat the best one, and {always} a funny story about what happened when she first ate it or first cooked it.  She pretty much pegs everything – for example, that King Cake is slightly terrifying to look at, and not anything too special to eat, but nonetheless VERY important during Carnival season, and you’ll eat a King Cake (daily, sometimes) with gusto, just for the tradition.  She describes some of the fancier, famous restaurants but this girl clearly loves a dive bar or hole-in-the-wall restaurant, so there’s no food elitism going on here.  She believes that the heart of the New Orleans cuisine is in the home kitchen, and she’s talked at length with regular people to learn how they cook their specialties.

I loved reading about the food itself, because I am also a bit obsessed with this cuisine, but my favorite part of this book was the way she captured the process of arriving as a stranger to the city, and then having a conversion experience that leaves you forever changed, and never wanting to leave.  It’s remarkable how quickly and easily you feel like you belong in New Orleans.  She says,

“New Orleans is a city of friends and neighbors, restaurants and cooking, and it swells with stories about how they all interact.  Put yourself in the middle of them and you become a part of the story yourself.  Eat an Italian salad, take a long lunch at Galatoire’s, cook a pot of red beans, and you’re in.  There’s no admission price, no required reading.  Food and the people who cook it, and the rituals that honor it, and the places that serve it, and the reasons for preserving it – that’s what happens here, who we are, what matters.”

My memories of New Orleans are often pegged to food as well: drinks at the Columns hotel, alligator soup and po-boys at Frankie and Johnny’s, hitting the tourist shops around Jackson Square for multiple free praline samples (hey, I was a poor student!), that buttery spoon bread at Dante’s kitchen, everything on the menu at the frenetic Jacque Imo’s, the cheerful and elegant dining room at Upperline, cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde in the morning before the tourists get there, the best pecan pie in the world (heated in butter on the grill and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream) at Camelia Grill, and learning to cook crawfish etouffe in my kitchen that was so hot during most of the year that chocolate melted in the cabinets (no AC window unit in the kitchen).  When my husband Michael got the lucky job of going to New Orleans for work a couple years ago, I went with him and we took a few days for me to show him around ‘my’ city.  I showed him my old house, the SPCA where I adoped our dog (Nola, named for New Orleans, LA), Audobon park, the St. Charles streetcar, and all my other favorite places.  And we ate.  And ate.  And ate.  We practically rolled onto the airplane by the end of our visit.  But, that’s how you experience New Orleans best – through the spicy, rich, flavorful, unique food that mirrors the culture.  If I hadn’t known already, it would have been a great validation that I’d picked a good man, because he enthusiastically embraced my favorites as his own immediately.

Roahen says, “People love New Orleans like they love a person.”  The deep affection I have for that city, and the way that I miss it which practically borders a grief, is very like how I would feel about a close friend.  When something triggers a memory from my time in the Crescent City, I cope in one of three ways: I start using my Cafe de Monde coffee mugs for my morning coffee; I put on my New Orleans jazz playlist; and/or I cook some good food.  It’s quite possible that whenever you see a post on this blog for some good old Cajun or Creole food, the meal was inspired by my missing New Orleans.  It is also possible it was because catfish, sausage or shrimp was on sale.  But even if that was the motivation, you can be sure that while it was cooking, some Dr. John was playing in the background and my mind was miles from home, in a one-of-a-kind, can’t-keep-it-down, crazy and messy, happy and lazy, beautiful town named New Orleans.

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All about Julia

It’s a big summer for Julia Child…the iconic cook hits the big screen in a seemingly highly-anticipated flick called Julie and Julia.  I have been very much looking forward to this movie, partly because it looks funny and I’m curious to see Meryl Streep as Julia, but mainly because it’s based on two of my very favorite books. 

The story line about Julia Child is based on her delightful book, My Life in France. (http://www.amazon.com/My-Life-France-Julia-Child/dp/0307277690/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247575299&sr=1-4) Here she chronicles how she came to be a foodie and a ‘french chef’ (a title she was never comfortable with) late in life, when she moved with her husband to France around the age of 40.  It’s an inspiring book.  I loved reading about how she discovered her passion for cooking, how much she loved her husband (who seems like a stick in the mud but she adored him anyway) and her sense of humor.  She really had a very interesting life, and this wonderful book tells the story well.

The second book in Julie and Julia is by the same name as the movie. (http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Julia-Year-Cooking-Dangerously/dp/031604251X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247575299&sr=1-2) It hilariously describes an early-life crisis of a young woman living in NYC who decides to find some purpose in life by cooking through Julia’s bestselling classic on french cuisine, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This may sound like a fun little task but it’s actually a nightmare, in a lot of ways – the cookbook has recipes for all kinds of weird stuff that we don’t really eat anymore, from animal parts you’ve never heard of being eaten, using gelatin, etc. etc.  So this Julie chick goes all over NYC trying to find these crazy ingredients and then trying to cook them in her tiny apartment kitchen.  I thought it was so funny how many meals she described taking place after midnight by the time she finally got the food done!  Julie really went for the big guns in learning how to cook (I’d never recommend going straight for that cookbook, I’ve been intimidated from trying many recipes in it myself!) but in the process she does learn a lot about cooking and the kitchen and also comes to terms with herself and her relationships.  It’s a fantasticly entertaining book, whether or not you like to cook.

Finally, Bon Appetit had some great articles about the Julia frenzy – there was a wonderful editorial by Barbara Fairchild which I can’t find online, so you might need to just go buy the issue (but it’s a really great issue anyway).  The Cooking Club recipes for the month are all from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I made the vinaigrette dressing for a salad last week and I have to say it’s my new favorite basic dressing – just some olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and a bunch of fresh chopped herbs.  It blended right into the greens so it was nice and simple but still flavorful, the perfect counterpoint to a rich main dish.  Now that I have an herb garden (in the form of a window box on my balcony) it was so easy to go pick some basil, thyme and parsley to mix in.  Definitely check that out!  http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/cookingclub/happy-birthday-julia/index/index_20090616

And among all this Julie Child hubbub, remember that one of her enduring lessons to all of us was to just get in the kitchen and HAVE FUN, and by all means don’t take yourself too seriously!  Everybody gets it wrong sometimes in cooking and it’s part of the game.  But when you get it right, oh isn’t it simply FABULOUS, as she would say?!! 🙂

julie-and-julia-movie-still

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My newest cookbook!

Getting new cookbooks is like a mini-Christmas for me.  I actually read them from cover to cover so I know exactly what is in them and what I might want to cook.  I love the possibility between the covers, and the hint of happy meals to come.  The ones with pictures are, of course, the best, but I have come to terms with the fact that some of the ones I crave don’t have pictures, and that can be ok too.

My recent arrival, a present to myself with birthday money, is called The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  I chose this one (from my loooooong wish list of cookbooks) because spring is here and summer is coming.  And in warmer weather, Mediterranean food is what I crave.  Even the heavier dishes of Middle Eastern cooking, like meat stews over couscous, feel a little lighter to me than the French stews or American chili of the winter months.

This book, by Claudia Roden, was first printed in the ’70s, and was lauded as something of a masterpiece on Middle Eastern cooking.  The book I bought is updated, with more recipes, and some dishes lightened for the modern healthy-food sensibility.  The book focuses on four types of Middle Eastern cooking, and I quote directly from the book flap:

– The refined haute cuisine of Iran, based on rice exquisitely prepared and embellished with a range of meats, vegetables, fruit and nuts

– Arab cooking from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan – at its finest today, and a good source for vegetable and bulgur wheat dishes

– The legendary Turkish cuisine, with its kebabs, wheat and rice dishes, yogurt salads, savory pies and syrupy pastries

– North African cooking, particularly the splendid fare of Morocco, with its heady mix of hot and sweet, orchestrated to perfection in its couscous dishes and tagines

Doesn’t that all sound SCRUMPTIOUS?!?!  I never knew a lot about Middle Eastern food, until I first ate Lebanese Taverna at a work lunch in DC.  I was immediately hooked – the food was SO flavorful, the meats tender, the sauces garlicky and oh-so-wonderful, the  baklava flaky and oozing honey.  Lebanese Taverna is still one of my all-time favorite restaurants.  You will never have a bad meal there.

So you can see why I am excited to have my own map to creating some of that food in my kitchen!  I have a little cookbook on Moroccan food, but I’ve not yet felt  bold enough to explore a lot of it.  This guide seems better.   And I have several couscous-based dishes I make, and have made hummous and falafel at home, but it’s time for the repertoire to expand.  And of course, I promise to share the best results with you.  Let the summer of Middle Eastern food begin!!!

 

middle-eastern-food

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 It’s taken me a while to get to the review of a great foodie book I finished several weeks ago.  I think the main reason for this is that the book is HUGE, and the thought of going back through it to say something comprehensive about that vast amount of information is a bit daunting!  

 

So, after several weeks to ponder the topic, I’m ready to tell you about The United States of Arugula: The Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution, by David Kamp.  The paperback version is 364 pages, in what I would call ‘small’ print.  The title makes this book sound like a salacious romp through cultural food trends of the past twenty years; in reality, this is a serious history of the development of a restaurant industry, the gourmet home cook phenomenon, and celebrity chef worship in the US from the 1940s through current day.  The material is detailed and dense, but for those who are truly interested in the topic, and for those of us who sincerely enjoy a good history read anyway, it’s a valuable learning experience.

 

Kamp structures his book around the characters who have dominated this food history, beginning with the Big Three: James Beard (teacher/cookbook writer), Craig Claiborne (food and restaurant critic) and the indubitable Julie Child.  All three were somewhat social rejects, who found, in mid-life, a calling in food.  Julia Child, for example, didn’t cook at all til she moved to Paris with her husband in her 40s.  When all three began their work in the 1950s, there was no such thing as a foodie culture in the US.  The book opens with this quote from the New York Herald Tribune in 1939: “If someone suggests a ‘pizza pie’ after the theater, don’t think it is going to be a wedge of apple.  It is going to be the surprise of your life.”  The title of this article, by the way, is ITALIAN PASTRY APPROPRIATE WITH BEER AND WINE.  Things like this are the reason the Big Three were so significant; they introduced America to a whole different world of food, far beyond the condensed-cream-of-mushroom-soup style of cooking so prevalent in the 50s.

 

Kamp spends a lot of time discussing the emigration of French food and its chefs to the US.  The French style of cooking, strictly structured and based on a system of stocks and sauces, arrived with young French chefs who taught apprentices the same system.  For many, many years, French food and French restaurants became the new standard for ‘good’ food.  And this was not just for the wealthy; Julia Child made the style of cooking popular among the masses, with her charming way of talking it up.  I particularly loved this fantastic quote of hers in the book: “ You know, the other day, when I was mmmucking about in the supermarket, looking for something to eat – I was sort of in a bad mood and nothing I looked at appealed to me a’tall.  I looked at all the chickens and the ducks and the fish and the steaks and the lamb, and I just didn’t want to cook any bit of it!  I found myself staring at a fresh beef tongue, and I said to it, ‘You ugly old thing, I’d like to fix you up!’  And I thought to myself, ‘Why not?  It will be a change, anyway!’  So I trotted home with my tongue under my arm – and I braised it!”  Clearly, the woman was absolutely hysterical.  And her enthusiasm proved very infectious – her classic tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, is one of the best selling cookbooks in history.

 

Coming out of the sixties, there was a dramatic shift of emphasis in American food culture from the rich, fancy French food to an earthy, local, seasonally-based, natural food movement.  This, you may not be surprised to hear, started in California.  The group of foodies leading this culinary revolution were strongly rooted in the counter-culture of the time.  Warren Belasco is quoted in the book, saying, “White versus brown was a central contrast.  White meant Wonder Bread, White Tower, Cool Whip, Minute Rice, instand mashed potatoes, peeled apples, White Tornadoes, white coats, white collar, whitewash, White House, white racism.  Brown meant whole-wheat bread, unhulled rice, turbinado sugar, wildflower honey, unsulfured molasses, soy sauce, peasant yams, ‘black is beautiful’.”  And thus began a natural food movement which developed into the New California style of cooking.

 

There are a few key characters who represent this time period in our culinary history as well.  Kamp goes through mini-biographies of Alice Waters (founder of Berkeley restaurant/icon Chez Panisse), and Wolfgang Puck (who made the brick oven gourmet pizza popular) among others.  These folks dared to step out of the French mold (although they often kept one foot in, using French technique with new products) and envision exciting uses for different ingredients; people were crazy about it.

 

Meanwhile the hippies were busy wielding their influence on the food businesses as well.  Businesses like Celestial Seasonings, Ben and Jerry’s and Niman Ranch Beef.  Natural, full-fat, organic, grass-fed and similar titles became badges of certification to the socially-aware consumer.  Recognition of and support for the growers and producers also became important.  For example, in the coffee business, the concept of fair trade became a profitable one to promote.  Kamp says “when specialty roasters started working on what would come to be known as fair-trade issues – ensuring that their coffee beans came from growers who treated their workers humanely and compensated them appropriately; paying their suppliers a guaranteed minimum price for their beans as a hedge against market fluctuations; and educating their growers about ecologically sustainable farming methods – these roasters acquired a certain cachet among young customers.  Specialty coffee wasn’t just delicious; it was righteous and cool.”  Starbucks, clearly, is the prime example.

 

In the 90s, the food influence swung back to the East Coast, where New York City was cleaning up its streets and developing a large network of world-class restaurants.  Many of the current celebrity chefs on Food Network became famous first in NYC kitchens – Bobby Flay, Mario Batali.  Restaurant dining was becoming more of an ‘experience’, carefully crafted by a team of experts – the décor and design were as important as the wine list which was as important as the food.  The city also nurtured a growing specialty foods store movement.  The well-known Dean and Delucca was started by three men who loved to eat quality products and had a vision of bringing them to knowing consumers.  “‘What Dean and DeLuca did was give the food market a clean artistry that made it very now, very tied into the moment when SoHo was being noticed,’ says Florence Fabricant, the New York Times food-beat scoopmeister, who wrote about the store nearly from its inception.  “Jack Ceglic was responsible for a lot of that, the industrial look.  And Giorgio and Joel were really fanatic about ferreting out product.  It all tied together.  And the other important thing they tapped into was the need for prepared foods.’“

 

Prepared foods, using ‘hot’ new ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and introducing new kinds of food like curries, were very popular among New Yorkers, and soon, all Americans.  The Silver Palate, another popular specialty foods store in New York City that spawned a well-known cookbook by the same name, started as a catering service to bachelors who didn’t know or have time to cook, but became equally popular among women with the same reasons for buying pre-made quality food.

 

This is getting long now, so you’re getting a good idea of the depth and breadth of this book.  The end of the book moves you quickly through the deification of chefs through the advent of the Food Network and the subsequent celebrity chef branding; the protest against mass-produced and nutrient-stripped meat and vegetable industries; new restaurant trends (back to the French style!); specialty food equipment stores; farmers markets, CSAs and the local foods movement, and more.  You would never, ever have guessed there was so much to say about food in America!  This book is very detailed but for those who really are interested (dare I say, the hard-core foodie?) it’s a riveting tale.  I learned quite a lot about where our food comes from, figuratively and historically speaking.  We didn’t just wake up and find ourselves surrounded by so many astoundingly diverse and delicious (and frighteningly bad in some ways) food options; it’s been a long story in the making.  It’s good to know it and appreciate it; it’s a good American story!

 

http://www.amazon.com/United-States-Arugula-American-Revolution/dp/0767915801/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236646495&sr=8-1

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So maybe it will start to seem like obsession at some point, but I would really argue that there’s nothing wrong with cooking primarily from the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks all the time because she just does everything SO WELL.  At a certain point, why bother even using other cookbooks?  Believe me, I have seriously pondered this question.  There are a few reasons for me to own other specialty cookbooks, mainly to pick up other food cultures that she may touch on but doesn’t really cover – Cajun, Low-Country, Indian and Middle Eastern foods being my favorites.  But when it comes to day-in, day-out meals and especially for dinner parties or company, you CANNOT beat her.   She’s got the most flavorful, yummy, cozy yet impressive food out there.

Yet even I, perhaps her most ardent fan, wondered what else she could come up with for a sixth cookbook in nine years.  And somehow, she’s done it again.  Here’s another comprehensive cookbook that has very approachable dishes, at once mouth-watering and yet simple: Barefoot Contessa – Back to Basics.

The cookbook came out late October, and although we didn’t have the money to buy it at the time (curse the grad-school budget!) I did visit it at the local Barnes and Noble. 🙂  I was amazed when flipping through that there were so many new recipes I wanted to make!  Happily, I recieved my own copy for Christmas and have already made a number of the recipes, all of which have been WONDERFUL!  So far we’ve tried the Garlic Ciabatta Bread (see New Years Eve posting), Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Curry Condiments, Mustard-Roasted Fish, Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan, and Easy Sticky Buns.  I’m going to save a whole entire post for the latter, which are gooey miracles that deserve your full attention.

One thing I particularly like about Barefoot Contessa cookbooks is the selection of recipes for different meals.  The recipes in this book are grouped by Cocktail Hour, Soup, Lunch, Dinner, Vegetables, Dessert and Breakfast.  I find this is usually the way I cook – I love simple ideas for cocktail hour and for lunches (or light dinners) and breakfast for entertaining.  I love her flavorful veggie recipes, since I don’t have a huge reservoir of those myself.  I love a big fun dinner for just us, or for company, and hers rarely disappoint.  And my absolute favorite thing to cook is soup, so I am thrilled to have more great recipes that make such good leftovers.

I’ve  been asked a couple times about which cookbook of the Contessa’s I’d recommend, and it’s really very hard for me to pick just one.  Unfortunately I think the decision just got harder, because the new book is a strong contender.  You can’t go wrong with this one!

http://www.amazon.com/Barefoot-Contessa-Back-Basics-Ingredients/dp/1400054354/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231116004&sr=1-1

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