Have a happy, tasty holidayBy Marialisa Calta
The Internet may afford easy access to bazillions of recipes, but cookbooks — praise be! — continue to be published, sought after and cherished. Bottom line: You can find a brand-new cookbook to suit nearly everyone on your gift list.
Working parents will heave a sigh of relief when they open “Everyday Food: Great Food Fast” (Clarkson Potter, $25), from the Martha Stewart empire. This book has hundreds of recipes for tasty, simple, quick meals, including Pork Quesadillas (below).
Three heavyweights in the cookbook world have come through with tomes for the vegetarians in your life. The New York Times’ Mark Bittman offers “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” (Wiley, $35), while star veggie chef Deborah Madison gives us “Vegetarian Suppers” (Broadway Books, $20). French cooking authority Patricia Wells weighs in with the elegant but approachable “Vegetable Harvest” (William Morrow, $35).
Fish lovers will want “Fish Forever” by Paul Johnson (Wiley, $35), a guide to selecting and cooking healthy, environmentally sustainable seafood. For oyster aficionados, choose “A Geography of Oysters” by Rowan Jacobsen (Bloomsbury, $24). And, in the unusual-but-oddly-compelling-single-subject-cookbook category, props go to “The Bacon Cookbook” by James Villas (Wiley, $35). Yum.
American cookery comes to the fore with “Saveur Cooks Authentic American” (Chronicle Books, $25), from the editors of Saveur magazine. (You’ll want your own copy, if only to have the barbecued ribs recipe from Twillard Mayweather of Memphis, Tenn.)
And what’s more American than a cowboy? Check out “The Texas Cowboy Kitchen” by Grady Spears (Andrews McMeel, $20) for chili, chalupas and other satisfying rustic chow.
Culinary adventurers will thrill to the exotic. Elfisio Farris gives us “Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey” (Rizzoli, $40), an exploration of the foods of Sardinia. A standout in the memoir/cookbook category is Cecilia Chiang’s “The Seventh Daughter” (Ten Speed Press, $35), written by the Beijing-born chef who ran San Francisco’s acclaimed Mandarin restaurant. The respected Indian cooking authority Madhur Jaffrey gives us “Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” (Chronicle, $20), which lives up to its title; while television chef Andreas Viestad travels the Indian Ocean spice route in the more elaborate “Where Flavor Was Born” (Chronicle, $40). “American Masala” by Suvir Saran (Clarkson Potter, $35) fuses Indian techniques with both Indian and American ingredients. Those with a hankering for French food can satisfy it with the delightful “Chocolate & Zucchini” by Clotilde Dusoulier (Broadway Books, $19), chocked with exotic-sounding but easy-to-prepare dishes. For those craving a whirlwind world tour, buy “The Take-Out Menu Cookbook” by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds (Running Press, $20), which offers favorites from Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Middle Eastern and other cuisines.
For lovers of sweets, there’s a landslide. “The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press, $19) and “Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes” (Kyle Books, $20) vie with chocolate maven Marcel Deslauniers’ “I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas” (Wiley, $30). Desserts — many of them over the top — can be found in abundance in “Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past” (Rizzoli, $45), “Desserts by the Yard” by Sherry Yard (Houghton Mifflin, $36) and “Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts” by Claire Clark (Whitecap, $40). Less ambitious home bakers might be very satisfied with something a little more, well, homey: Try the captivating “Sweety Pies” by Patty Pinner (Taunton Press, $23) or “Bubby’s Homemade Pies” by Ron Silver and Jen Bervin (Wiley, $30).
Whatever you choose, you will ensure that your friends and loved ones have delicious holidays.
1 large garlic clove, peeled
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for oiling grates
1 pork tenderloin (3/4 to 1 pound)
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 tablespoons spicy brown mustard, plus more for serving
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
6 ounces thinly sliced baked ham
3 to 4 dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
8 ounces provolone or Swiss cheese, coarsely shredded
On a cutting board, smash the garlic with the flat side of the knife. Peel it, then chop coarsely. Gather pieces into a pile and sprinkle with salt. Place the flat side of the knife blade on top and press firmly, pulling the knife toward you. Repeat until a paste forms. Scrape the paste into a small bowl and combine it with the pepper and the oil. Rub all over the pork.
Preheat a grill to high; oil the grill grates. Place the pork on the hottest part of the grill; cover the grill. Cook, turning at least once, until an instant-read thermometer says 155 F. Let rest for 5 minutes, then slice against the grain.
Meanwhile, place the onion slices on the cooler part of the grill. Cover and cook, turning once, until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce the grill to medium-low.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the mustard on each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Dividing evenly, layer half of each tortilla with the ham, pork, onion, pickles and cheese. Fold the tortillas. Press to close.
Lightly oil the grates again. Place the quesadillas on the grill. Cover. Cook, turning once, until cheese has melted, about 4 minutes. Cut into wedges. Serve with additional mustard.
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe from “Everyday Food: Great Food Fast” from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (Clarkson Potter, 2007)
1/2 pound maple-cured bacon slices
1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 cups cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, crumbled
In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving the fat. Chop the bacon into small pieces.
In a small bowl, stir the cornmeal into 1 cup of the cold water. In a heavy saucepan, bring the remaining 3 cups of water to a boil and add the salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir in the cornmeal and add 4 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat. Reduce heat to moderate and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon.
Grease an 8-1/2-by-4-1/2-inch loaf pan and scrape the scrapple into it. Cool, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Cut the loaf into 1/2-inch slices. In a skillet, heat a little of the bacon fat over moderate heat and fry each slice until browned and crisp around the edges, about 5 minutes on each side.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Recipe from “The Bacon Cookbook” by James Villas (Wiley, 2007)
BEA’S THUMBPRINT COOKIES
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup self-rising flour
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the two flours and mix to a dough. Let rest for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Measure a scant tablespoon of dough. Roll the dough between your palms to form a 1-inch ball. Place on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Press your thumb in the middle of the dough to make a depression. Continue with the remaining dough. Using a teaspoon, fill each depression with chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are golden.
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies
Recipe from “Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes” by Caroline Jeremy (Kyle Books, 2007)
Marialisa Calta is the author of “Barbarians at the Plate: Taming and Feeding the American Family” (Perigee, 2005). For more information, go to www.marialisacalta.com.