cover image Big Small Plates

Big Small Plates

Cindy Pawlcyn, with Pablo Jacinto and Erasto Jacinto. . Ten Speed, $35 (370pp) ISBN 978-1-58008-523-6

In her newest (after Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook ), Pawlcyn explores her love of appetizers and small dishes, emphasizing foods from Spain, Mexico, and Central and South America and including recipes from the her restaurants, past and present. She breaks down chapters into playful categories: "Sticks, Picks, and with Fingers," for example, focuses on foods meant to be eaten by hand, Pawlcyn's admittedly favorite way to eat. Foods served on toast, tortillas or shells appear under "On a Raft," while "Bowls and Spoons" features soups and stews (such as Mussels and Clams with Andouille Sausage in Tangerine Broth). Throughout, Pawlcyn favors seasonal ingredients, be it a recipe for Grilled Radicchio and Scallions with Black Olives or Crispy Fried Rabbit with Dijon-Chervil Sauce. While some dishes, like Pan Roasted Hazelnuts and Chile Garlic Peanuts, are straightforward, others, such as Salt Cod Cakes with Garlic Aioli, require a bit of work. But Pawlcyn is unapologetic: "When it comes to cooking, the little extra you do makes a huge difference, so sweat the details." But the desserts (Baked Peach Crisps, Oranges and Smashed Cherries) are delightfully simple, and the menu suggestions at the end, categorized by season, will inspire any home cook. (Sept.)