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November 14, 2013 Edition

The Mac & Cheese Cookbook

Written by Allison Arevalo

Going to any potlucks this holiday season? Or looking a gift for a bachelor/bachelorette? From the creators of the Homeroom restaurant in Oakland, California, which serves macaroni and cheese all year round, this cookbook starts out with a lesson in basic baked mac and cheese, includes some plain-talking troubleshooting, and launches into delicious variations on the theme. Anything goes: Trailer Mac (with hot dogs and potato chips), Mexican Mac (with chorizo, chipotle, cilantro, and lime), Mac the Goat (always baked), and even Mac-Cakes show up as treasured menu items. More sophisticated palates might appreciate Mac and Blue or Dungeness Crab Mac. And there are even small sides and desserts chapters where youíll find goodies that pair well with the rich and unctuous macs, including Crispy String Beans and Watermelon in Fresh Lime Syrup. And Ė while weíre talking about pairing, I should mention that each macaroni recipe comes with a beer and wine recommendation.

The Heart of the Plate

Written by Mollie Katzen

A good friend countered my enthusiasm forThe Mac and Cheese Cookbook with an enthusiastic extolling of Katzenís latest cookbook, which includes a fantastic recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. I say, Katzen hasnít let me down yet, and thereís no such thing as too many macaroni and cheese recipes. Here youíll find Katzenís trademark style of fresh ingredients, simple preparation, and elegant presentation. She notes when her always vegetarian recipes can be made vegan, and gives variations, enhancements, and tips when warranted. Not all recipes are photographed, but the ones that are, are simply stunning. Katzen trumpets the use of a variety of grains (including millet, quinoa, and various rices) and includes recipes inspired by cuisines around the world.

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook

Written by Tess Mallos

Never out of print since its first publication in 1977, this classic has been updated for a new generation of cooks. Mallosís orginal introductions have been preserved, but the design and photos are all-new. Look for mouthwatering recipes from Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf States, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, and Afghanistan (but not, for some reason, Israel). While thereís some overlap among cuisines, techniques, ingredients, and names differ. Mallos covers everything from soup to nuts and most things in between. Each regions chapter opens with a culinary overview of the region, including the spices that make up the characteristic flavors, cooking methods, and how meals are conducted. An excellent glossary, complete with names of ingredients in multiple languages (including botanical names when relevant) ensure that you get the right ingredients, and an extensive index will help you find recipe with specific ingredients or go back to recipes with unfamiliar names.

Root-to-Stalk Cooking

Written by Tara Duggan

Isnít it too bad so much of the Swiss chard is the tough stalk? And that some herbs come bundled in such big bunches? And, some of us already use beet greens, but what about greens that come attached to other roots? Dugganís book has some recipes for using leftovers and oft-discarded pieces, including Chard Stalk Relish, which uses the tough ends of Swiss chard, braised into tenderness, and Herb Salts and Herb Butters, which use whatever leftover herbs youíve got to make flavorful additions to your table. If youíre peeling potatoes for Smoky Corn Cob Chowder, save the peels to make Potato Skin-Bacon Fat Chips, and when you pull your carrots at the end of the summer, use those beautiful greens to make Salsa Verde. Lots of imaginative and appealing ideas that use leaves, roots, seeds, and peels that will maximize flavor and your budgetís power.

Whatís for Dinner?

Written by Curtis Stone

Wondering whatís for dinner this week? Stone has got you covered, with vegetarian and meat dishes alike. He starts out with Mondays, which emphasize healthy, tasty recipes, then moves through the week with quick (15-40 minutes from start to finish) recipes, then one-pot recipes for Wednesdays, budget-minded ideas for Thursdays, and five-ingredient Fridays. Saturdays, Stone breaks loose with delicious, fancy recipes meant for entertaining friends and family, and on Sundays, he brings the focus back home with traditional American comfort foods like roasts, meat loaves, and yes, mac and cheese. His ingredient lists generally restrict themselves to standard pantry items with an occasional specialty purchase, his directions are clear, and his photos are numerous and mouthwatering.

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