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In Olives & Oranges, Jenkins shares the simple, striking dishes she learned at the source. Many, like Peppery Braised Short Ribs and Classic Tuscan Eggplant Parmesan, are favorites from childhood. Others, like Short Pasta with Mushrooms and Mint and Spicy Lemon-Chocolate Ganache Tart, have a contemporary sensibility. Jenkins shows how understanding the Mediterranean "language of flavor" can help you follow your instincts and make your own great meals based on what you have, too. You'll see how salt and lemon juice bring out the natural sugar in Carrot Salad with Lemon, Sea Salt, Parsley, and Olive Oil, and how to use the same technique with lime, salt, and a Moroccan condiment called harissa for a completely different effect in Tunisian Raw Turnip Salad.
The opening chapter introduces "small plates"-- easy, versatile dishes that can preface a dinner or be grouped together for a small feast, from Roasted Red Peppers with Garlic and Celery Leaves to Chicken Liver Crostini. Soups are spontaneous and flexible, whether they are cooling purees like White Almond Gazpacho or sturdy full bowls like Rich Chicken Soup with Greens. The incomparable pastas encompass fast every-night selections (Spaghettini with Burst Cherry Tomatoes) to complex celebration affairs like Braised Rabbit Ragu and Homemade Lasagna.
Fish, poultry, and meat chapters feature rustic preparations: roasted scallops capped with a pale green butter seasoned with parsley and garlic; an impressively big-flavored chicken smeared with a mixture of bacon and herbs and baked in a salt crust; and a spectacular staple of Roman trattorias, veal cutlets wrapped in prosciutto and sage and crisp-fried. Desserts range from fresh Strawberries with Prosecco to a sumptuous Coffee Cardamom Crcme Caramel to the rich but light Lemon Olive Oil Cake.
Each of the recipes in the book is identified as "Quick-Cook" or "Slow-Cook" so you can choose which fit best into your schedule. "Flavor Tips" throughout the book suggest ways to modify the dishes so you can use what's freshest and most available.
The daughter of the noted food authority Nancy Harmon Jenkins, SARA JENKINS has earned raves at all the New York restaurants where she has been the chef, including 50 Carmine, Il Buco, I Coppi, and Patio. Her newest venture, Porchetta, is located in New York City's East Village. This is her first book.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 59.
- Review Date: 2008-08-18
- Reviewer: Staff
While many cooks and cookbooks find inspiration in the Mediterranean's culinary traditions, this appealing, beautifully photographed tome by Jenkins (chef of New York City's Il Buco and Mangia, and the recently opened Porchetta) and Fox (editor of La Cucina Italiana) uniquely synthesizes a diversity of regional styles while adding some fresh ideas to the mix. Having grown up as the daughter of a foreign correspondent and absorbing the culinary vernacular of the countries in which her family resided (Italy, Spain, Cyprus and France), Jenkins uses the Mediterranean pantry as her foundation. She instructs how to select appropriate oils and vinegars; make the most of briny olives, anchovies and bottarga; and select cured meats and cheeses. The recipes that follow are organized almost like a restaurant menu, from a small plate of Sweet Corn Sformato to mains like Slow-Braised Pork Loin with Prunes. Jenkins acknowledges the classics in dishes such as the Tuscan peasant soup Ribollita or the chestnut meringue dessert Montebianco, but she also makes room for her own mashup interpretations, tossing spaghettini with ground lamb, yogurt and mint, and melding jasmine tea and dark chocolate in an intriguing panna cotta. Labeled as “slow-cook” or “quick-cook,” recipes are designed for ease without compromising their rich, timeless flavors. (Sept.)
Marvels of the Mediterranean
I've reviewed dozens of Mediterranean cookbooks and browsed through countless others offering taste sensations from these sun-soaked lands. So, when I found myself marking almost every recipe as "must try," I knew I had a real winner in Sara Jenkins' Olives & Oranges: Recipes & Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond. Sara roamed the Mediterranean with her parents as a child, lived in a rural Tuscan village and has been a chef in a number of well-known New York City restaurants. Her innate understanding of the building blocks of Mediterranean flavor infuses these dishes, whether a classic Italian Meat Rag or an inventive, tangy, Turkish-inspired Spaghettini with Ground Lamb, Yogurt and Mint; authentic Roman Veal Saltimbocca or a Gazpacho variation made with cantaloupe. She knows how to honor tradition, how to be inventive and flexible in true Mediterranean style and how to pass on this savory savvy. Her cooking instructions are thorough: every recipe, from small plates to sweets, is marked as either Quick-cook or Slow-cook so you'll know what fits your schedule, and Sara's chapter openings, header notes and "flavor tips" are chatty and chock-full of useful info.