Editor’s Note: Linda Avery returned from vacation to a pile of books on her doorstep (we could all be so lucky). She’s gone through them and selected four that she thinks are worth a second look. Here’s what she had to say about each one.
Returning from una dolce vacanza nel Italia, I found so many creative books screaming SUMMER IS HERE! I couldn’t choose just one and I’m certain there’ll be at least one calling to you.
Do you kneel at the altar of Kombucha? If you aren’t in with the in-crowd, kombucha is a slightly fizzy, fermented drink with a tea base. It has been said to be the “elixir of life.” It’s a detox drink, it aids digestion, and some say it reverses the symptoms of cancer.
Stephen Lee co-founded Tazo Tea and Stash Tea so he knows what he’s doing. He explains the process, the essential equipment, a SCOBY (an acronym for Symbiotic Colon of Bacteria & Yeast) and then gets to the recipes. There are infusions, juices, spirited cocktails (I think Kombucha Peach Daiquiri got me interested), dressings, sweets and ices (like Strawberry Citrus Basil Sorbet). If you are, as he says “weekend warriors ready to care for their very own SCOBY”, this is the book for you.
One doesn’t have to think about firing up the grill to reach for a recipe for marinade but for many, it’s a requirement. Lucy Vaserfirer’s book covers it all. Mentally put the word “marinade” after each of these words: dairy, coffee, soda, beer, wine, spirit, southwestern, Mexican, South American, European, Chinese… you get the idea. There are also dessert marinades. If you aren’t a creative person (or even if you are), this is quite the compendium of marinades.
I like the fact that in addition to her index of recipes, there is an index of suggested uses i.e. a listing by specific meat, cut of meat, fish, vegetable and fruit.
Has the popularity of French meringues intimidated you? This colorful, crazy (good crazy) book will put you at ease. From the beginning with tips and techniques to flavorings and how to make striped kisses, you’ll love it.
Is there a little girl in your life (or maybe just for you) who would love a Barbie cake with a multicolored meringue kiss skirt? There are recipes for a Meringue Tower, Surprise Kisses (with an M&M inside), Summery Eton Mess, Grilled Peaches with Crushed Amaretti Cookies and Maple Meringues – YUM – meringue compote jars and more.
And these smart gals have a chapter on Using Your Yolks for Vanilla Custard, Lemon Curd with Lemongrass, and Passion Fruit Curd.
Best of all, it’s naturally gluten-free!
Karen Solomon created Jam it, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects and Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It. Her newest book, Asian Pickles, begins with the Japanese Tsukemono (traditional Japanese pickles). You’ll find items like Pickled Plums and “Thousand Slices” Turnips.
She proceeds from Japan to cover all of Asia: Korea has Mushrooms in Soy Sauce and numerous Kimchi recipes. China is represented by over a dozen pickles like Five-Spice Pickled Carrots; India has pickles plus eight chutneys and the balance of Southeast Asia includes recipes from Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malysia.
Some recipes take minutes to hours (Onion and Cilantro Chutney, Hot Pickled Pineapple and Peanuts), some days up to a week (Pickled Shallots Kimchi, Apples in Mustard with Mint) and then those that require patience like Preserved Steamed Lemons which requires at least 6 months. Pucker up!