Lynch's cuisine is all the more remarkable because it is self-taught. Read more...
Lynch's cuisine is all the more remarkable because it is self-taught. In a story straight out of Good Will Hunting, she grew up in the turbulent projects of "Southie," where petty crime was the only viable way to make a living. But in a home ec class in high school, she discovered her passion. Through a mix of hunger for knowledge, hard work, and raw smarts, she gradually created her own distinctive style of cooking, mining Italian and French classics for ideas and seasoning them with imagination.
The 150 recipes in Stir combine sophistication with practicality. Appetizers like baked tomatoes and cheese and crisp, buttery brioche pizzas. Dozens of the artful pastas Lynch is famous for, such as little lasagnas with chicken meatballs, and potato gnocchi with peas and mushrooms. Lobster rolls with aioli. Chicken wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with melting Italian cheese. Creamy vanilla bread pudding with caramel sauce. Accompanied by Lynch's forthright opinions and stunning four-color photographs, these dishes will create a stir on home tables.
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Greener and leaner
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to go greener, go meatless or go with less meat, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes, the 12th cookbook by the Moosewood Collective, one of the most respected names in whole food cooking, is a great way to get with the program. The 19 fine folks who own and operate Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York—many of whom have been together since 1973—cook and share food focused on ethnic grain-based cuisines, high in plant foods and low in saturated fats, that avoid additives and artificial, synthetic processed ingredients. Their concern here is to come up with “healthier ways to prepare some of our old favorites” and to add new dishes that will soon become favorites. Though I can’t tell you if their recommendations are truly healthier (that’s a matter for the medical/nutritional pros), I can tell you that many of these recipes will please even the most committed carnivores and delight those of us looking for ways to prepare everyday dishes that may be better for our bodies and better for our planet.
Stirring it up
Barbara Lynch grew up in a working-class housing project in South Boston, eating food that came out of a box, jar or can. If she hadn’t taken Mrs. Logozzo’s Home Ec class in high school, she might never have found her true calling. But she did, and with a lot of hard work and a true love of food, she’s now a James Beard Award-winning chef and the owner of seven culinary establishments in Boston. Lynch is a “big believer in first impressions,” as am I, and after my first flip through Stir: Mixing It Up In the Italian Tradition, I was ready to spend a lot more time with these recipes. Lynch’s take on food has depth and sensual appeal; she’s passionate about cooking and wants you to savor that special joy. Most of her food is not for weeknight quickies, but for those precious times when you can slow down and relish the process of creating a delicious meal. Tomato Tarte Tatin (small treats with explosive flavor), Creamy Chestnut Bisque, Spicy Lobster Bolognese, Chicken Meatball Lasagnettes (yes, individual lasagnas), Red Wine-Braised Shortribs and tangy Yogurt Panna Cotta are just a small sampling of Lynch’s culinary creativity, all carefully detailed here.
At home with Marco
In his foreword to Marco Canora’s Salt to Taste, renowned “celebrity chef” Tom Colicchio tells us that he knew Marco had “good hands”—that innate knack, the touch and talent that make a great cook—when he was just a newcomer to the sizzling stoves at Gramercy Tavern. Putting those hands to good use, Canora has come a long way since then, with three eminent eateries in New York and now this fabulous debut cookbook that honors his Tuscan heritage and his ardor for the simple and seasonal. The title reflects his overall approach to cooking, relying on your senses to guide you rather than on rigid recipes, depending on your taste buds to coax out intense flavors. When you “salt to taste,” you have to sample, smell, listen and watch as you cook, and Canora tries to make this process understandable, building your confidence while he’s at it, so that you can develop the culinary savvy the pros take for granted. Canora uses an excellent device for imparting his advice, tips and thoughtful guidance; almost every recipe (and there are over 100) has highlighted ingredients and techniques that are detailed and explained in the margins—it’s as if he’s standing right there next to you.