Frances Mayes has lived under the Tuscan sun for more than two decades and has opened her home and her heart to us in her best-selling books. Now, with The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, embellished by 150 gorgeous full-color photos, she and her husband Ed invite us into their kitchen to share the treasures of la cucina Toscana. The Mayeses have learned about Tuscan food from the inside out, from the locals—friends, neighbors, restaurateurs, butchers, cheese and winemakers—and they’ve acquired the Tuscan obsession with food and the joy in preparing and sharing it. Most of the recipes (more than 150) are simple and traditional, ranging from antipasti to dolci, with stops for a passel of perfect pasta—including spaghetti with arugula and pancetta and Orecchiette with Shrimp—and classics like Chicken with Artichokes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Chickpeas and Green Beans with Black Olives. Whether Frances is writing recipes, invoking the essence of real extra-virgin olive oil or the “liquid sunlight” of a lemon, she infuses everything with her lyric love of this place in the sun.
Texas Eats is Robb Walsh’s unabashedly admiring ode to the many cuisines that call Texas home. Our second largest state has more than 30 ethnic groups that have adapted their specialties to the varied Texan landscape, forming a fabulous hodgepodge of gastronomic hybrids. Though Tex-Mex, now internationally known, is the most famous, Walsh highlights many others, like Czech-Tex. He’s organized the book by region, highlighting the signature dishes that each produces, with a side order of local food lore and intriguing history. In the Coastal Bend area we’re treated to the glory of Galveston Oysters—scalloped, grilled, fried, in nachos and on the half shell—spectacular shrimp dishes and the growing influence of the Cajun Invasion. And so it goes, chapter after tempting chapter, from Goulash and Rehwurst to King Ranch Casserole, Texas Sugo, Texas Pho and Spicy Viet-Tex Mayo. Deep in the heart of Texas there’s a marvelous melting pot of multi-ethnic food.
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Always passionate about cooking, Crescent Dragonwagon is back with Bean by Bean, a super-celebration of beans, always cheap and now chic, too. She’s collected and concocted more than 200 recipes to demonstrate their virtuosity (all tagged for dietary predilection: vegetarian, vegan, omnivorous, etc). Beans can start a meal (check out the Marrakech Melange), star in soups and salads and serve as amiable entrvÂ©es in curries, casseroles and, of course, chilis, as well as sensational sides, bread and even dessert, as in Red Bean Ice Cream. Crescent starts with Bean Basics—choosing, using, nutrition and cooking methods, including de-gassification. As good a writer as she is a cook, her notes and short essays are fun, informative and brimming with her inimitable enthusiasm.
Food writer Walsh (The Tex-Mex Cookbook; Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook) is a three-time James Beard Award winner and an authority on Texas culinary history. His latest is primarily organized by region, with chapters that focus on either a popular dish (e.g., Chili con Carne and Chicken-Fried Steak) or style of cuisine (e.g., Czech Texan, Vietnamese Texan, Indian Cowboys). Culinary explorers who like variety will find ten ways to serve oysters, seven kinds of hamburger, and plenty of interesting seasonings, sauces, and spice blends. Packed with history and stories, this is a great choice for homesick Texans and armchair travelers.[Page 125]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Having authored five previous Texas cookbooks, and with a decade's worth of restaurant reviews written for the Houston Press, Walsh knows a thing or two about the Lone Star food scene. Along with more than 200 recipes, he serves up plenty of state history, profiles of quintessential eateries, and a surprising look at just how many international cuisines have claimed territorial footholds in the region. The book is divided into six sections, with the first five broken out geographically. There are seafood recipes, like shrimp stew, taken from the coast, and German and Czech offerings, including stuffed cabbage, culled from central Texas and the Hill Country. The section on East Texas includes an important look at the foods surrounding Juneteeth, "the biggest holiday in the state's African American community," while the West Texas section surveys several of the area's best barbecue shacks, burger joints, and chicken-fried steak emporiums. The final section is a state-wide multicultural roundup of immigrant dishes. Walsh could not resist titling the last chapter of this section "Indian Cowboys," where the emphasis is on chutney and samosas, not buffalo. (Apr.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC