The New Flavors of Country Cooking

Country Living, Author, Victoria Spencer, Text by (Art/Photo Books)
Country Living, Author, Victoria Spencer, Text by (Art/Photo Books) Hearst Books $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-58816-291-5
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The only complaint one could lodge against this very attractive and tempting cookbook is that, despite its title, the recipes aren't exactly country-not this country, anyway. Delicious examples of the volume's esoteric style include Warm Aged Gouda Custard with Roasted Tomatoes and Chicken-Manchego Empanadas. The Sage Baked Macaroni and Cheese requires provolone and ditalini pasta-a far cry from the usual elbow noodles and cheddar-while ordinary coleslaw becomes Warm Cabbage Slaw with Maple-Bacon Dressing, a gorgeous, salty-sweet picnic side dish ribboned with leeks and carrots. Even the seemingly basic Chicken and Mushroom Noodle Soup takes a light, exotic turn with the inclusion of lemon grass and chili paste. Refined and nouveau though it may be, this cookbook isn't the least bit precious; each inviting recipe makes the most of simple instructions and readily available ingredients. The recipe for Green Beans with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette takes no time at all and yields a sophisticated dinner party side dish, while the addictive Candied Yams with Apples takes even less prep time than the green beans. Useful nutrition information separates the sinful from the guiltless-the diet conscious will be glad to know that the refreshing Strawberry Granita weighs in at only 44 calories per serving. But the few old-fashioned recipes in this volume are not nearly as virtuous; in serious country tradition, the Barbecue Beef Brisket Sandwiches are full of fat, calories, and flavor, and the Easy Chocolate Party Cake-a birthday favorite in both city and country alike-is satisfyingly terrible for your waistline.
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