Books worth leaving the beach for
One look at these latest cookbooks and you might rather spend a day at the stove than the shore.
OK, time out. Lighten up. Time to put down a certain New York senator's tell-a-bit book and reach for something you can really sink your teeth into.Skip to next paragraph
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There's a fresh crop of cookbooks out there, some of which are downright droolable. Others offer a seasonal flair that will nudge you off your beach blanket and beckon you back to the kitchen.
Here are just a few that whet our appetite:
The poor Blanchards. They have to divide their time between the cool, verdant Vermont mountains and the palm-shaded beaches of Anguilla. But wait: Before you rush off a CARE package of Ramen noodles to the Caribbean, they do appear to be eating well.
In Melinda and Robert Blanchard's At Blanchard's Table, A Trip to the Beach Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), the peripatetic pair, with the help of their local island staff, set the table for us at their Anguilla restaurant.
Melinda, a self-taught cook, sets out delicious dishes with simplicity and deftness. Poultry recipes are among the most appealing. Calypso Chicken With Lime and Coconut Curried Chicken meld the best of island flavors, while Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon, Olives, and Rosemary sets a more Mediterranean tone. Just save room for their White Chocolate and Apricot Bread Pudding With Apricot Sauce made with fresh, flaky croissants.
The Blanchards give an occasional nod to their New England roots with Vermont Cheddar Soup and Cinnamon Maple Wonton Crisps.
Ben Fink enriches the venue with sun-drenched photographs as bright as a ripe yellow papaya.
Feeling the heat? Let's sail north to Norway.
In Kitchen of Light (Artisan, $35), chef Andreas Viestad breaks the ice on an often overlooked cuisine. My Swedish parents would have devoured his book.
Here are all the ingredients that graced our family smorgasbord each Christmas Eve - but in reincarnations no one would recognize.
Fish, of course, takes center stage. But where we had poached halibut or salmon mousse, Mr. Viestad serves up Vanilla-Scented Halibut With Asparagus and Hollandaise and Honey- Mustard-Marinated Salmon With Rosemary Apples.
Where we supped on a simple roast pork stuffed with prunes and pears, Viestad offers Prune-Stuffed Meatballs With Beet Salad and Pears With Ginger, Juniper Berries, and Caraway Cream.
If food is the soul of "Light," Viestad's family reminiscences and occasional nuggets of history - along with Mette Randem's exquisite photographs - illuminate the life and warmth of this hauntingly beautiful land and exquisite cuisine.
This book accompanies the public-television series "New Scandinavian Cooking With Andreas Viestad."
I remember those warm summer evenings when we'd line up outside Legal Sea Foods' first restaurant in Inman Square in Cambridge, Mass. Because the wait could be long, my date would get in line while I grabbed a paper plate stacked with shucked oysters from the restaurant's adjoining fish market. The wait was almost as memorable as dinner.
About three decades later, Legal Sea Foods has expanded (as have I). And now, with 26 restaurants scattered throughout seven East Coast states, comes another classic cookbook from Legal's kitchens.
In The New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook, (Broadway Books, $26), Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO of the restaurant chain, and cookbook writer Jane Doerfer have netted 200 recipes, many that have made the Boston-based eatery an American institution.
Along with such classics as Clam Chowder - a staple at the past six presidential inauguration dinners - Coquilles Saint-Jacques, and Bluefish Paté, they tempt us with such cross-cultural dishes as Shrimp and Avocado Quesadilla and Crabmeat and Artichoke Hushpuppies.
The most commonly available fin and shellfish are described and detailed.
Even the mythical scrod is demystified. (Scrod is simply a name given to young cod or haddock.)
Accompanying most of the recipes are workable substitutions - when, for instance, swordfish can be replaced by halibut when the former isn't available.
Edward Koren's whimsical, squiggly cartoons are a perfect foil in this otherwise serious book.
In From the Cook's Garden (Morrow, $29.95), Ellen Ecker Ogden brings us down-to-earth in the land of bountiful. She and her husband, Shepherd, own America's premier organic-seed catalog, The Cook's Garden, in Londonderry, Vt. In their 10-acre farm and test gardens in Burlington, Vt., they grow pink eggplants, purple potatoes, green zebra tomatoes, a host of heirloom vegetables, and whatever organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers they can find.
Color woodcut illustrations by Mary Azarian bring a perfect down-on-the-farm warmth to the pages of this indispensable book for the home cook and gardener.
When I was growing up, there was always a choice of desserts at home: canned pears or canned peaches. I should have lived next door to David Lebovitz.