A model cook
Padma Lakshmi is gorgeous, smart, an actress, model, host of Bravo's popular "Top Chef" and author of a lively, new international cookbook. (Oh, she was married to Salman Rushdie, too). Born in South India, she grew up in New York and California, spent her junior year abroad in Madrid, then lived in Paris, Milan and Rome strutting the fashion runways for Ralph Lauren, Ungaro and others. So, this girl knows the world, the world's flavors and how to mix and match dishes from the cuisines she's come to love. And, Padma points out, in our shrinking global village she's not unique; most of us pick and choose our daily fare from near and farsushi today, Thai tomorrow, Mexican or Italian the day after that. Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet is Padma's paean to this multitude of multiethnic culinary influences, with more than 150 easy, Padma-pizazzed recipes and luscious color photos. There are Keralan Crab Cakes with coconut and green chiles, Curried Butternut Squash Soup, Pan-Seared Flounder in Chipotle Yogurt Sauce, Merguez Sausage with Fennel and Couscous, Braised Spinach Catalana with Raisins and Pine Nuts and smooth Chilled Papaya Mousse.