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Cooking: Eating across Italy
Do we need to start the new year with yet another Italian cookbook? The answer is a resounding sì. Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking is a big, photograph-filled, capacious compendium inspired by the Eataly markets, which are probably the largest, most prestigious Italian marketplaces in the world. Eataly goes from soup to nuts, or rather from antipasti to dolci, with stops for pastas, redolent risottos, veggies of all varieties, meat, fish, chicken, soups, savory and sweet tarts with cakes and cookies in between. There’s also a fabulous, 40-page illustrated glossary of ingredienti italiani, including 34 kinds rice, 51 breads and 80 cheeses. If Eataly is one-stop eating and shopping, Eataly is a one-stop Italian cookbook, and it may be the only one you need. Though the 300 recipes reflect today’s Italian cooking—a little lighter and quicker to get on the table, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients—they’re grounded in the great tradition of la cucina italiana.
If you take a quick glance at the title, you might think that Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked—and Fried, Too! is a manual for potato abuse and savaging spuds. Quite the contrary; it’s Raghavan Iyer’s loving homage to those tasty tubers that might arrive dirt-smeared, but clean up beautifully. A passionate potato-holic since early childhood, Iyer offers 75 international recipes that celebrate the potato’s diversity and flexibility. Starting with munchies and finger foods like Llapingachos (filled Ecuadorian potato cakes) and Cheesy Tarragon Tots, his recipes run the gamut from sides to savory soups and stunning salads, such as a picnic-perfect Moroccan Harissa Potato Salad. There are also enticing entrees like classic Irish Lamb Stew, laced with hearty dark beer, plus an amazingly moist Chocolate Sweet Potato Pound Cake. “Tater Tips” packed with extra info accompany Iyer’s excellent directions.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Whether it’s Southern flavor with Indian flair or Indian flavor with Southern flair, the soul-satisfying recipes in My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen are the perfect example of what fusion cooking can and should be. Author and chef Asha Gomez grew up in Kerala in Southern India but has considered Atlanta her adopted hometown for over 15 years. As a curious, intuitive cook, she thinks of her cooking as an evolving conversation between the cuisines of the American South and the Indian South. The bold, bright results of this delicious dialogue, seasoned with Gomez’s carefully crafted instructions and served with lively header notes, are here for all of us to share. Try Puffy Ginger Hoecakes for breakfast and go on to Quick Tellicherry Buttermilk Biscuits or Cardamom Cornbread topped with Tomato Clove Preserves. For a real showstopper, cook up Kerala Fried Chicken and golden-crusted Low Country Rice Waffles with Spicy Syrup and a mango-infused Colonial Trifle. Two Souths are better than one!