Screen Doors and Sweet Tea By Martha Foose
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Screen Doors & Sweet Tea, by Martha Hall Foose, hardcover, 256 pages
The 10 Best Cookbooks for Summer
After flitting from Mexico to India and other equatorial points, this year the summer's warm-climate cookbooks centered on the American South. The best of many contenders is Screen Doors & Sweet Tea, a wisecracking, storytelling treasury of Southern dishes, both the well-known (cornbread, lady peas, juleps) and the slightly less familiar. Some, like Apricot Rice Salad, have an elegant, dinner-on-the-porch feel. Others (All for Okra and Okra for All), are resolutely egalitarian.
Foose has a marvelous gift for the pithy turn of phrase, and all of her recipes carry intriguing subtitles: "Proper Fried Chicken: My Thoughts, at Least," "Lunch Counter Egg Salad Sandwich: Ode to Waxed Paper," "Baked Macaroni and Cheese: A Vegetable in Some States."
As I see it, there are two ideal ways to enjoy this book: 1) Pick out your favorites, cook your way through them one by one, and gorge yourself silly; or 2) sit on the porch and read it while somebody makes you a julep. Either will do just fine.
June 1, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Jewish Home Cooking
By Arthur Schwartzs
2009 IACP Cookbook Award Finalists
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Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited
Schwartz (Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food) breathes life into Yiddish cooking traditions now missing from most cities' main streets as well as many Jewish tables. His colorful stories are so distinctive and charming that even someone who has never heard Schwartz's radio show or seen him on TV will feel his warm personality and love for food radiating from the page. Oddly, even the shorter anecdotes often run longer than the actual recipes; anyone intending to cook from the book should have some kitchen experience or risk frustration at the often brief instructions. Dishes run the gamut from beloved appetizers like gefilte fish to classic meat and dairy main items (cholent, blintzes), plus less familiar items like onion cookies and Hungarian shlishkas (light potato dumplings). Schwartz intersperses engaging commentary on everything from farfel and matzo to Romanian steakhouses and why Jews like Chinese food. Those with Westernized palates may recoil at the thought of gelled calf's feet, but Schwartz shows how stereotypically heavy Ashkenazi food can be improved and made at least somewhat lighter when prepared properly. Cooks and readers from Schwartz's generation and earlier, who know firsthand what he's talking about, will appreciate this delightful new book for the world it evokes as much as for the recipes. (Apr.)See