A love of légumes
Clotilde Dusoulier, award-winning blogger and author of Chocolate and Zucchini, is a “resolutely vegetable-oriented cook.” Though more flexitarian than vegetarian, she devotes her new opus, The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen, to a variety of vegetarian meals with a French accent and that sought-after Gallic je ne sais quoi. This is not French haute cuisine with the animal protein removed; rather, Clotilde draws on seasonal dishes from the regional repertoire that incorporate local bounty, plus inspiration from interesting restaurant meals she’s enjoyed and her own delicious innovations. Aiming to juxtapose flavors, textures and colors, Clotilde moves through the seasons, selecting ingredients at their best and featuring them in simple but sophisticated preparations. Right now, as August simmers along, you might be tempted to start a meal with Eggplant and Black Olive Caviar, followed by a rosy red Corsican Bell Pepper Stew, served hot or cold, and end with a Peach, Almond and Cardamom Clafoutis. As you cook through the year, you’ll find equally appealing plant-based recipes that highlight the best that Mère Nature has to offer.
SUNNY SUMMER DISHES
Cookbooks don’t usually have sequels, but luckily, Yvette van Boven’s acclaimed Home Made Winter has a sunny, smiling soulmate. Home Made Summer takes estivation seriously but joyfully. Her plan is to offer recipes gathered in Amsterdam, Paris and Provence that “look after themselves,” don’t take too much effort, and celebrate summer and the inherently fabulous flavors of so many fresh fruits and vegetables. Yvette’s attitude, like her recipes, is lighthearted and friendly, her header notes charmingly personal, and her thorough instructions chatty and fun. She’s scattered the text with her own fanciful drawings and a few hand-lettered recipes, Asparagus Pie and cake-like scones for Strawberry Shortcake among them. The full-color photographs, all taken by Yvette’s husband Oof Verschuren, are irresistibly luscious. If you can look at the photos of Watercress Soup with Parmesan Flan, Sea Bass Fillet with Crouton Crust or Summer Pudding bursting with berries without rushing into the kitchen to start cooking, you’ve got far more self-control than I do.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
When Raghavan Iyer arrived in 1980s Minnesota, what he truly needed was the book he would write 30 years later. To placate his Indian palate, he had to learn to create the complexity of Indian flavors by using ingredients he could find in a Midwestern supermarket. He did just that, and Indian Cooking Unfolded is the wonderfully accessible result. In 100 recipes using 10 ingredients or fewer, divided into eight chapters, Iyer presents his unique system for learning to cook Indian food. This is your own master class; each chapter is a course on a course (starters, sides, sweets, etc.) with a specific technique that’s explained (or “unfolded”) in a special foldout with full-color, full-fun, step-by-step photos. The recipes are arranged in order of difficulty, and ochre “extra credit” panels serve up more info on ingredients, substitutions and leftover logic. A “Basics Unfolded” section starts you off, and maharajah-worthy menus for great Indian meals wrap it up.