Tastes to Astonish

Sandra Granseth, Author, S. Garanseth, Author, Sharyl Heiken, With
Sandra Granseth, Author, S. Garanseth, Author, Sharyl Heiken, With HP Books $14 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55788-273-8
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The quest for novel combinations of ingredients leads the authors into more than a few errors of exuberance. Intending to introduce the unenlightened to the joys of ""sensational ingredients and flavor combinations,"" they come up with some recipes more likely to alarm the palate than to astonish it. Take, for example, Brazilian Souffle-Topped Shrimp Pies, in which shrimp simmered in coconut milk with thyme and tomatoes (fine so far) is then crowned with a pouf of aerated parsnips. Smoked Turkey with Walnuts, Sherried Apricots and Angel Hair Pasta sounds okay, until you realize that it also calls for two cups of half-and-half to make four servings. Cilantro, orange juice, thyme and nutmeg vie for flavor dominance in a sauce for asparagus. A few of the more pantry-emptying dishes do work (e.g., Polynesian-Spiced Pot Roast and Vegetables; Wine-Marinated Rabbit with Fennel and Red-Pepper Sauce). As a rule, however, those recipes that show some restraint are better: Baked Chevre and Garden Salad, Broiled Tuna with Wine and Rosemary and Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Firecracker Barbecue Butter all argue convincingly that, in cooking, less is often more. Cooks eager to make an impression (whether good or bad) and not afraid to sacrifice subtlety will, however, find many intriguing ideas here that can be adapted, if not followed exactly. (Sept.)
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