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Dinner Just for Two

Christina Lane. Countryman, $35 (336p) ISBN 978-1-68268-009-4

In the inviting introduction to this uneven cookbook, Dessert for Two blogger Lane pays homage to her grandmother, who owned a burger joint in Dallas, and claims cooking in small batches eliminates leftovers, which she equates with food waste. Lane does consider what to do with what leftovers one might have and devotes an entire chapter to making large batches of such items as mashed potatoes that can be turned into other dishes (for instance, cheesy potato soup and patties with Indian spices). Lane’s voice is chipper, but organization can be baffling: a chapter on “skillet meals” includes lettuce cups filled with chicken and pickled carrots, “skillet” justified because the chicken is sautéed in a pan. Another chapter on meals in a bowl includes falafel and pita photographed on a plate. The fare is fine, if occasionally pedestrian: for example, frozen Tater Tots top a ground turkey casserole. More sophisticated choices include cauliflower soup with saffron and barley with mushrooms and brie. With the concept of the book shaky, what remains is a collection of familiar recipes more notable for serving size than content. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Asma’s Indian Kitchen: Home-Cooked Food Brought to You by Darjeeling Express

Asma Khan. Interlink, $30 (192p) ISBN 978-1-62371-912-8

Khan, owner of London’s acclaimed Darjeeling Express restaurant and a subject of Netflix’s Chef’s Table documentary series, shares a delightful collection of personal recipes sure to entice lovers of Indian food. Khan divides her alluring recipes into feasts for two, family feasts, eating with friends, and celebratory feasts. Readers will discover a range of vibrant dishes suitable for busy weeknights or special occasions. Chingri bhaaja (shrimp sautéed with butter and chilis) and saag paneer (spinach with Indian cheese)—both for two people—reflect the savory diversity of the cuisine. A luscious cheese korma (in family-sized portions) and a hearty spiced red lentil dish called khichree (perfect for entertaining) will tempt those unfamiliar with the complex flavors of Indian cooking. For those intimidated by the spiciness of the cuisine—like the author’s son—Khan provides flavorful recipes for dum gosht (roast beef cooked with mild Indian spices) and boors chenni ki kheer (rice pudding with brown sugar). Cooks looking to make authentic Indian meals at home will not be disappointed. Khan cooks from the heart, and her appetizing dishes and expert guidance are not to be missed. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Eat. Cook. L.A.: Recipes from the City of Angels

Aleksandra Crapanzano. Ten Speed, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-399-58047-5

Food writer Crapanzano (The London Cookbook) is a New Yorker with the culinary heart and soul of an Angeleno. Here she considers the menus of restaurants, coffee and juice bars, and food trucks from across L.A. to present 80 excellent recipes that focus on simplicity, freshness, and bright flavors. Twists include a Kale Mary (tequila, juiced kale, and green tomatoes are swapped in for vodka and red tomatoes) from the Rose Cafe in Venice Beach, and avocado hummus, from the Bellwether in Studio City, topped with a light za’atar salad of parsley and sesame seeds. More substantial dinner entrees range from Italian options like spicy fusilli to Wolfgang Puck’s chinois lamb chops with cilantro and mint vinaigrette. For dessert, there are fruit-filled ice creams and sorbets, and two puddings—a kaffir lime pudding is thickened with avocado while Vietnamese coffee pudding consists of milk and cream, kissed with vanilla and espresso. There are brief profiles of chefs and their eateries, along with a special section dedicated to the trend-setting work of Nancy Silverton and Suzanne Goin of Campanile and La Brea Bakery, complete with Goin’s recipe for chanterelle lasagna with English peas and parmesan pudding. The City of Angels takes flight in this vibrant survey of its diverse cuisine. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Poh Bakes 100 Greats

Poh Ling Yeow. Murdoc, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-74336-749-0

In this worthy debut collection, Yeow, host of Australian TV’s Poh & Co and Poh’s Kitchen, presents 100 savory and sweet baked dishes. A sense of whimsy permeates the book with such chapters as “Thrills and Frills” and “Sweetie Pies & Tantalizing Tarts.” She includes British favorites such as a Blueberry Bakewell Tart, a shortbread pastry with jam and frangipane, and a currant tea cake, made with brewed Earl Grey black tea. French baking figures heavily with such offerings as the “Milly Frilly aka Mille-Feuille aka French Vanilla Slice,” a chic six-layer concoction of puff pastry and two types of cream. The prune & armagnac Breton from French pastry chef Eric Pernoud is a stunning baked round of pastry filled with pitted prunes, orange juice, rum, and Armagnac. Asian-influenced dishes include Kuih Kapid–Coconut Love Letters, which are folded Malaysian-style wafers pressed in a pizzelle maker. For dinner parties, Poh recommends the savory baked wheel of Camembert with thyme, garlic, and red wine. Her tart of mixed mushrooms and hazelnut—fanned filo cups filled with a mushroom and a nut mixture—is also company-worthy. Dog lovers, meanwhile, can delight in making chicken liver treats. Full-page color photos and cheerful illustrations make this inspiring and solid collection gift-worthy. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Vegetables Illustrated: An Inspiring Guide with 700+ Kitchen-Tested Recipes

Editors of America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen, $40 (544p) ISBN 978-1-945-25673-8

With step-by-step illustrations, the editors of America’s Test Kitchen offer 700 recipes featuring 70 vegetables—arranged alphabetically from artichokes to zucchini—intended to help home cooks create more enticing dishes, add to their vegetable repertoire, and “turn any vegetable into a superstar.” There are several recipes for the potato, for example: Yukon Gold can be mashed in buttermilk; red potatoes can be braised with lemon and chives; and russets can be twice-baked with bacon, cheddar, and scallions. Other recipes utilize more unusual items, such as sunchoke chowder and salads of foraged nettles, purslane, or pickled ramps. Recipes also include meats: roasted chicken with honey-glazed parsnips; okra-filed gumbo with chicken, shrimp, and sausage; and rack of lamb with mint-almond relish. Appearing throughout are sidebars explaining food science (“Why do Artichokes turn brown?” and “Why Does Cilantro Taste Soapy?”), illustrated vegetable prep instructions, and photographs demonstrating “Vegetables Reimagined” (ricotta cheese is rolled within slices of eggplant and baked). This sturdy must-have cookbook is a highly informative reference highlighting the versatility of vegetables. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2019 | Details & Permalink

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My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions

Gabriela Cámara. Lorena Jones, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-58057-4

Cámara, owner of the Contramar restaurant in Mexico City and Cala in San Francisco, offers recipes from those restaurants as well as her family recipes in this inviting and well-written cookbook. She provides, among many others, the recipe for Contramar’s famed tuna tostada, which can also be made with trout, as is done at her San Francisco restaurant. Another signature dish is a butterflied red snapper with fiery red salsa on half the fish and milder green salsa on the other. There are plenty of homey dishes alongside the restaurant choices, and basics are ably explained, including thorough instructions for making one’s own tortillas (“Make tortillas from masa harina,” and don’t press them too thinly). Flexibility and adaptation are emphasized: “Everything can be a taco,” Cámara insists in an essay that lauds the tacos at a tiny stand in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. Yet, title notwithstanding, many recipes hail from elsewhere, as she defines Mexico City as a “melting pot.” A chapter on antojitos—appetizers and snacks—includes an octopus salad handed down by the author’s Italian maternal grandmother and sopa de lima from the Yucatan. Personal touches like a paean to great Mexican food writer Diana Kennedy and a meditation on mole are lovingly crafted. Cámara’s delightful cookbook offers a nuanced window into the evolving cuisine of Mexico City and beyond. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Healthy Indian: Everyday Family Meals. Effortlessly Good for You

Chetna Makan. Mitchell Beazley, $29.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-78472-535-8

Makan (The Cardamom Trail), a former consultant on the Great British Baking Show, covers quickly prepared, healthful Indian dishes in this inviting volume. As the author points out, Indian food cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients is naturally healthy, not “a diet or a fad-eating plan.” An eggplant curry as well as a dish of cauliflower and potatoes with garam masala and other spices are typical of the fare. Makan also provides recipes with multiple variations: a yogurt-based curry can be made with chard, broccoli, carrots, or new potatoes. The chapter on lentils and grains is particularly intriguing and includes barley with bell peppers and peanuts. There are also instructions for roasting a tandoori-style chicken in a standard oven and recipes for flatbreads and rice dishes, such as chickpea-flour pancakes with ginger and garlic. In a chapter on pickles and chutneys, Makan offers a bracing mango and mint chutney. Desserts include saffron yogurt and chocolate bark with nuts and spices. The writing is definitely British, but a concise glossary at the end will help orient U.S. readers (measurements are by both weight and volume). This is a lovely, inviting cookbook of everyday dishes; the fact that they are also healthy is almost an afterthought. Though not revolutionary, this is a welcome addition to the category. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family

Priya Krishna, with Ritu Krishna. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-328-48247-1

Food writer Priya (Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks) and her mother, Ritu (a software programmer and self-taught cook), share kitchen wit and wisdom in this accessible approach to Indian-American home cooking. Before jumping into the 85 quickly assembled, family favorite recipes, the Krishnas first outline the basic building blocks behind classic Indian cuisine with useful charts on spices, lentils, and even a flow chart for creating Indian dishes. Tips feature instructions for preparing rice, potatoes, ghee, and chhonk (spices tempered in oil), the “most revelatory Indian cooking technique ever.” Purists seeking authentic cuisine will find dal, saag, lassi, and the like, but they may balk at Ritu’s substitutions, born of necessity when Indian ingredients in the U.S. were less accessible. (In a chapter titled “No Paneer? No problem!” the authors suggest using feta if the traditional Indian cheese isn’t available.) Priya offers Indian hybrid dishes including crispy roti pizza, white bean stuffed poblanos (a twist on traditional potato-stuffed spicy peppers), and eggless pineapple dump cake. Krishna’s recipes are forgiving, flexible, and perfect for weeknight meals. The authors’ playful approach is infectious and makes accessible a cuisine that could otherwise be intimidating for home cooks. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

Lisa Damour. Ballantine, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-18005-7

Clinical psychologist Damour (Untangled) thoughtfully and compassionately discusses the many pitfalls faced by adolescent girls today, advising parents on how to help their daughters past obstacles while reinforcing confidence and minimizing stress. She begins by distinguishing between “healthy” and “unhealthy” stress, and observing that anxiety-riddled situations can provide learning opportunities. Damour astutely notes that, as awareness of psychological terminology increases, parents have begun to pathologize their children, such as by referring to simple shyness as “social anxiety.” Tackling the stereotype of backbiting teenage girls, Damour clarifies that young girls are most often supportive and kind to one another. Her instructions largely stress effective communication techniques, including responding to “meltdowns” calmly and empathetically and not offering “hollow reassurances.” Damour also considers thorny technology issues, such as how much social media monitoring by parents is actually healthy, and advises having shame-free conversations about sexual harassment and consent. A wealth of examples from her work in private practice and as a counselor at an all-girls private school underscores her advice, and she urges parents to remember that “We really were no different from our own children. We just had lame technology.” This is a remarkably thorough and accessible guide for raising girls into strong, independent women. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 01/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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How to Be a Patient: The Essential Guide to Navigating the World of Modern Medicine

Sana Goldberg. HarperWave, $17.99 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-279718-6

Registered nurse Goldberg guides patients and their loved ones through the “dysfunctional medical-industrial complex,” offering advice on how to choose a provider, ask the right questions, and demand or deny treatment. An advocate for patient rights, Goldberg stresses that “patient agency... is as important, often more important, than medical expertise and innovation.” Easy to read and informative—the book cites 2017 research suggesting female surgeons and internists are more empathetic toward patients—Goldberg’s work outlines strategies for routine, emergency, and long-term care, as well as handling pharmacies and insurance billing. Readers will learn that dressing up for appointments can yield better care, that patients can and should ask their doctors for the reasoning behind diagnoses, and, if going to the hospital, to bring a notebook to jot down questions, procedures, and medications. Goldberg also suggests what to ask to determine if a test is necessary or if one is receiving the right medication. Her book offers a solid, straightforward resource for getting quality health care. Agent: Allison Hunter, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/18/2019 | Details & Permalink

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