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Food Festivals of Italy image
Food Festivals of Italy
by James Fraioli, Leonardo Curti

Gibbs Smith
$35.00 Suggested Retail Price

This luscious coffee-table book celebrates the pageant of food festivals that are held throughout Italy. As the authors note, it is part cookbook and part travel guide, as the authors describe 50 of Italy's most famous food fairs. In addition to describing the colors, tastes, and aromas they encountered at each festival, the authors include recipes from each one so that you can bring authentic Italian cuisine into your kitchen. Amateur and professional cooks alike will delight in the lavish photographs of the charming people, the romantic and picturesque settings, and of course, the food that they found. Nearly half the book is comprised of bold full-page photographs of these tantalizing recipes. The table of contents alone will make you want to book a trip to Italy so that you can see fairs like the National White Truffle Fair or the Traditional Chestnut Hunt. What a treat!

Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking image
Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking
by Beth Hensperger

Harvard Common Press
$14.95 Suggested Retail Price

Beth Hensperger shows us some quick and easy recipes to add some spark to your everyday dinner menu. These aren't meant to be the centerpieces of Sunday Dinner or for entertaining, of course, but they will help you get out of the meat-and-potatoes rut that you can fall into so easily.

Among the 150 recipes, most can be prepared in less than 45 minutes. As the author notes, the focus is on quick, healthy and delicious. The first sections cover fish, poultry, beef and pork, followed by rice and pasta, and then soups and salads, with a chapter of burgers and sandwiches for those nights when a big meal just isn't right.

I'm not a fish-eater ordinarily, but the Salmon Teriyaki and Baked Halibut Parmasean sound good. My usual chicken dishes tend to be either stir-fry or simple fajitas, and many such dishes are included in this cookbook, but with fascinating variations on the ordinary recipes. The Lemon Chicken with Mint sounds interesting, and I certainly want to try the Mexican Chicken with Beer Glaze and Sweet Potato Fries. For more traditional fare, there's the Easiest Chicken Parm which simplifies the classic recipe.

As you'd expect, the recipes are short and sweet, with a list of ingredients and simple instructions. The bonus here is that interspersed among the recipes are great cooking hints like the list of seasonal vegetables and instructions for quick steaming, and "What Is A Meat Mallet and How To Use It". Between the inventive twists on well-known recipes and the great cooking advice, I'm sure this cookbook will be one you'll turn to several times each month.

Perfect Pasta & Sauces
by Jean Pare

Companys Coming Pub Ltd
$16.99 Suggested Retail Price

Jean Pare shows us how to make splendid meals with the basic building blocks of Italian cuisine - pasta and sauce. She covers the basics - raviolis, lasagnas, linguinis, and tortellinis, but she expands the usual fare with great cheeses, spices, and meats to give you something new to present to your friends and family. Then you get to the good part - the sauces! There are dozens of different sauce recipes that really let you soar in the kitchen. There's a Thai Curry Sauce, a Tofu Pesto Sauce, a fun Fennel Orange Tomato Sauce, and many more. The recipes are jam-packed into this small spiral-bound cookbook, so each page is a new delight.

Mom's Big Book of Baking image
Mom's Big Book of Baking
by Lauren Chattman

Harvard Common Press
$21.95 Suggested Retail Price

Lauren Chattman gives us over 200 recipes for the aspiring baker. Baking naturally brings up thoughts of desserts, of course, and this notebook-style cookbook features dozens of luscious recipes for cakes and cookies that range from the simplest sugar cookies to biscotti. The book actually begins with breakfast fare, offering the obligatory recipes for pancakes and waffles. Then we proceed to some real baking with a section devoted to muffins, biscuits, and quick breads. Then we go through the cookies, bars, and brownies. That's followed by the sorts of recipes that give home cooks trepidations - pies, quiches, and cobblers. Then comes the graduate-level work with yeast-based recipes for things like bread and pizza dough.

This is almost more of a textbook than a regular cookbook. The author is showing you how to bake, rather than simply presenting an array of baking recipes to try. There's lots of easy-to-follow instructions with a great section on what the well-stocked pantry should include. I also appreciated the fact that most of the recipes tell you how long the food should keep, even though few desserts last more than a couple of days in my house. I always like cookbooks like this one that include the classic dishes, so I can find references when I'm trying something new. Just a superb cookbook for anyone who wants to learn how to bake from scratch.

Party Snacks!: 50 Simple, Stylish Recipes image
Party Snacks!: 50 Simple, Stylish Recipes
by A.J. Rathbun

Harvard Common Press
$12.95 Suggested Retail Price

A.J. Rathburn shows you 50 different recipes that you can use to satisfy those late night munchies or for hors dourves at your next party. From finger foods like Caprese Pizza Puffs to more substantial fare like Cannoli, you'll find so many lucious choices that you won't know where to start. There's simple ideas like making finger sandwiches or your basic onion dip, but there's also more elaborate recipes like the Grilled Honey Teriyaki Chicken. But take heart, all of these recipes are very simple and usually only require a half dozen ingredients. Take the Caprese Pizza Puffs, for example. All they take is a can of refrigerated biscuits, some marinara sauce, fresh basil, and your choice of cheese. 10 minutes to make and 10 minutes to bake and you're done! Bah-da-bing, bah-da-boom! All of the recipes are accompanies by gorgeous color photographs and many include suggestions for complimentary libations that are equally inventive and easy to prepare. What more could you ask for?

Luscious Liqueurs: 50 Recipes for Sublime and Spirited Infusions image
Luscious Liqueurs: 50 Recipes for Sublime and Spirited Infusions
by A.J. Rathbun

Harvard Common Press
$12.95 Suggested Retail Price

A.J. Rathburn continues his series of helpful cookbooks with this guide to party drinks. Liqueurs take you beyond the ordinary cocktail with a sprig of mint to a much more exotic landscape of flavors. He starts out with some excellent advice on choosing the right bottles and, most importantly, the right liquor. He suggests that you stick to mid-range liquors, rather than trying to overdo things with the most expensive ones. With all sorts of combinations of fruits and spices, you're sure to find several choices that match your party menu no matter what you're planning to serve. Of course, there's also nothing wrong with mixing up a batch to enjoy with your significant other, too! Looking at the colorful pictures, you can almost taste these marvelous concoctions. Yum!