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January 13, 2006 Edition

Vegetable Love, by Barbara Kafka

Every so often we are faced with vegetables that fall outside our normal repertoire. Here’s one solution: this handy cookbook is divided into vegetable origins (New World, Mediterranean, European, Arabian, Asian, and African) and subdivided by vegetable. Some veggies I’m happy to have found recipes for here include Jerusalem artichokes, celery root, and braising greens.

Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, by Pam Anderson

Not only dinners, but breakfasts are here in this upbeat and cheerful cookbook. Whether you’re having a formal dinner, a spring brunch, or a Superbowl lunch, there’s a little something for just about every occasion, with sidebars detailing when to offer each recipe, what to accompany it with, shortcuts and variations, and how far ahead it can be made. Instead of offering a wide variety of recipes, Anderson concentrates here on those which she’s found foolproof, forgiving, and delicious.

I’m Just Here For More Food, by Alton Brown

Brown’s TV show “Good Eats” is a great blend of science and food, and in this, his baking book, the tradition of fun-filled scientific recipe revelations continues. Grouping the recipes by mixing method, as he does, leads to some surprising connections: biscuits and pie crusts for example, are used differently, but the method and goal for each is very similar. Likewise ginger cookies and chocolate pound cake… and there’s even a recipe for homemade pop-tarts in that section. You’ll enjoy learning about the reasons behind the recipes, but I bet you’ll enjoy the results even more.

The Cuisines of Spain, by Teresa Barrenechea

Here are more than 250 recipes from all over Spain, representing the best of Spanish home cooking. Following tastes rather than politics, Barrenechea spends the first chapter introducing the regions of Spain and the foods indigenous to each before moving on to the recipes themselves. Whether you’re craving tapas or perfectly fried eggs, a taste of paella or a fried milk dessert, this authoritative cookbook (and its photos) by a Basque chef will make your mouth water.

The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking With Fragrance and Flavor, by Jerry Traunfeld

Bring your herb harvest into the kitchen and put your fresh picks to work flavoring chickpeas for appetizers and pears for dessert. With tips on growing herbs (including sorrel, lemon verbena, and rose geraniums, as well as the more common bay leaf, oregano, and sage, to name a few) side by side with mouthwateringly photographed recipes, this is a hard book to pass up.

Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless.

Another author with a cooking show, Bayless specializes in Mexican cookery, placing an emphasis on meals which are delicious, nutritionally complete, and can be quickly and easily prepared on a weeknight. From his opening chapter on pantry basics through the final dessert (Mexican shortbread cookies), this is a beautiful and well-organized book with options for ingredient substitutions as well as method changes to suit your taste and your kitchen.

Ciao Italia Pronto! by Mary Ann Esposito

Also specializing in quick weeknight cooking, this book, based on Esposito’s show “Ciao Italia,” aims for a prep time of 30 minutes or less for tasty Italian chicken, vegetables, sauces, and more. Some are familiar, like lasagna, others may not be, like vermicelli pie. Not many photos, but nice, clear instructions and short personal anecdotes accompany these delicious-sounding recipes.

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