A new selection of Texan, Chinese, and Italian cookbooks

Capon on Cooking, by Robert Farrar Capon (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95). Whether he is praising the virtues of the scallion, striking a blow for salt, or giving advice for leftovers, this author is always surprising and amusing.

Fr. Capon, an Episcopal priest, has been writing about food for several years. His approach to cooking is inventive, but the recipes and tips in this book are workable as well as witty.

Chef Chu's Distinctive Cuisine of China, by Chef Lawrence C.C. Chu (Harper & Row, $22.50).

This excellent book on Chinese cooking is also very beautiful, with both black and white and color photographs.

Expecting to follow in the footsteps of his architect father, Chef Chu worked in restaurants to put himself through college. He now gives cooking lessons at his own successful Los Altos, Calif., restaurant.

He tells how to visualize a dish before you begin cooking, explains the essential cooking and cutting techniques, and includes family-style recipes used in Chinese homes.

California Cooking, by Mable and Gar Hoffman (HP Books, $7.95).

These best-selling authors take you on a tour of their home state with more than 200 tempting recipes for sourdough bread, Dungeness crab, California kiwi fruit, and dishes with a Mexican influence, such as Baja Quiche and Mexican Lasagne.

Typical of this publisher, it is a colorful, large, soft-cover book, and Mable Hoffman provides explicit directions. Helpful pictures of California ingredients go along with the recipes.

The Edna Lewis Cookbook, by Edna Lewis and Evangeline Peterson (Ecco Press, $ 13.50).

This is Edna Lewis's second book about food, and it has the same charm and warmth as her first, with its combination of Southern American cooking and sophistication.

Evangeline Peterson, an accomplished cook, has added to the collection of excellent recipes, and both make a strong plea for the use of fresh herbs to give distinction to many dishes, which they have arranged in menu form and organized according to the seasons of the year.

The Joy of Pasta, by Joe Famularo and Louise Imperiale (Barron's, $12.95).

Most of your favorite pasta dishes are probably in this book, with its recipes for pasta with butter, cream, and cheese, Pasta Primavera, Baked and Molded Fettucine, Lasagna With Duck - and many more.

The authors, brother and sister, learned about making pasta from their Italian mother, and their new book has easy directions for making it at home. Most intriguing are recipes that are not for restaurant-type fare, but good Italian home dishes with sauces in every conceivable form.

The Star of Texas Cookbook, by the Junior League of Houston Inc. (Doubleday & Co., $19.95).

Texas eating at its best is all here - Artichoke Fritters, Bacon and Corn Spoonbread, Longneck Jalapeno Quiche, Red Snapper Veracruz, and Wild Game Gumbo.

These, plus continental fare, reflect the pioneer energy, the hospitality, and the sophistication of this modern-day boomtown.

Descriptions of landmarks and historic spots of the city are colorful. And the special ideas for hearty country breakfasts, fiestas, light luncheons, and formal dinners are delightful.

Glorious Desserts, by Carol Bowen (Barron's, $12.95).

One glance at this book makes it increasingly obvious that we are currently experiencing a revival of old-fashioned, rich desserts.

The spectacular color photos could persuade the most Spartan of cooks to go light on the main course and make dessert the crowning glory of the meal.

A Chocolate Filbert Meringue, a Bubbling Plum and Orange Compote, and a Speedy Raspberry Charlotte are beautifully pictured.

There are simple desserts, too, such as Prune Whip, Apple Fritters, and Blueberry Pancakes With Honey.

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