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ISSUE:  Autumn 1979

We are very fond of Asian cooking, especially in summer. We have a large collection of regional books on the cuisine of the Far East, but we always return to The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon (McGraw-Hill $15.95). The recipes are authentic, tasty, foolproof, and excellent.

Classical Cooking the Modem Way, by Eugen Pauli. Translated by Peter C. March and Monroe S. Levine.CBI $24.95

You may not find this in your bookstore because it has no gimmicks, It is for the professional or for the person who really wants to learn something about cooking. It is as austere and as thorough as a good Swiss watch movement. And like the watch, it works and keeps on working. This is actually a most useful encyclopedia of food and cooking. The first 200 pages are devoted to everything one should know about food. There are clear diagrams for all meat cuts and comprehensive discussions of mushrooms, herbs, fish, and so on. Unlike other books, it explains basic diets for all health conditions. It includes, as well, a chapter on nutrition with diagrams. There are detailed chapters on food cost versus food loss, the organization of the kitchen, and food storage. All this should be of interest to anyone who has a cook and staff or who seeks to feed a large family properly. There is a large recipe section. The recipes are safe, precise, and clear preparations for the international dishes served in hotels of the first class around the world. Each is followed by excellent suggestions for variations. These will give the skilled cook a path to invention. The portions are for ten. These can easily be cut in half. Basic and a good bargain.

Alfredo Viazzi’s Italian Cooking, by Alfredo Viazzi.Random House $10

There are many Italian cookbooks. Original ones like this are rare. For the first time, here is a skilled Italian chef who blends his taste with the great tradition of Italian cooking and can make the dishes work with ingredients available here. The recipes are his own. The marvelous sauce for Carpaccio is Alfredo’s creation. So are most of the scaloppines, which are all tempting and original. All his classic sauces have a personal twist. Being a real cook, he offers only six desserts. After such cooking, they will suffice. This is the Italian cookbook we shall keep at hand.

The Cuisine of the Sun, by Mireille Johnston.Vantage $4.95

Cooking in the countries around the Mediterranean is full of flavor. We have it rendered here in a more subtle way because of the influence of French cuisine upon the Provencal one, the subject of this volume. The book offers an excellent array of various dishes as well as a number of tempting and light menus that are good for summer and winter. We particularly like the leg of lamb in garlic sauce, the pork with sage and capers, and the fruit desserts. The proper proportions for ratatouille, rarely seen, are also here. Readers will like Mrs. Johnston’s fine recipe for the classic bouillabaisse, and they may well want to try the less well-known aioli, which is ideally suited to a summer party.

Veal Cookery, by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey.Harper & Row $10

If veal could readily be obtained, this book would be indispensable. The authors present more than 200 recipes assembled by cuts, including excellent dishes based on odd parts. Unfortunately, most of these recipes come from American restaurants while those given by the great cooks of the past are ignored. Ali-Bab and Tendret have recipes much better than you will find here. Nonetheless, the Lady Curzon soup is a must, and the veal scaloppine with lemon sauce is exquisite. We have the feeling that the authors’ recipes, as opposed to the restaurant ones, are more reliable.

Marinade Cookbook, by Henrietta Green.Harper & Row $8.95

The idea of this book is excellent. We are all obliged today to consider cheaper cuts of meats. Marinades give these cuts attractive flavors and make them more tender as well. Most of the recipes are for meat dishes, which is welcome. The preparations we tried for pork, lamb, and chicken were quick and easy. The results were light and delicious. Two or three of these recipes will pay for the book. You will want to try many more. Less wine is used than vinegar, yogurt, lemon juice, and herbs and spices. A very good little cookbook.

French Cooking for People Who Can’t, by Julia Hayes.Atheneum $11.95

Here is an excellent approach to French cooking. The author discovered everyday cooking in France, and she came to realize that it is much easier than many of the American authors of French cookbooks suggest. She offers basic recipes, excellent tips on how to make maximum use of your food, and keys to attractive presentation. The dishes are authentic and uncomplicated by pretentious additions. The final section on menus is the best we have seen for a long time. Try the boeuf Bourguignon with a good Beaujolais to see what this is really like.

Innards and Other Variety Meats, by Jana Allen and Margaret Gin.101 $4.95

It always seems to us odd that animals which appear on the meat counters of this country have no tails, no feet, no ears, no innards, and, needless to say, no brains. All these variety meats have been used by every other cuisine in the world as long as man has existed. They are cheap. They are tasty. And, in most cases, they are boneless, which limits the waste. Food prices today and waste consciousness may, at last, compel attention to these cuts here. This is an excellent beginning—a careful collection of recipes, some original, some classic. If the recipes for sweetbreads are a little adventurous, the preparations for kidneys, tripe, and feet are as sound as the old beef and kidney pie (given here). For a start, try the pepper pot soup made with honeycomb tripe. You will be very surprised.

The Golden Lemon, by Doris Tobias and Mary Merris.Atheneum $9.95

Lemon is one of the key tastes in cooking. It lightens the heavy dish and perks up the dull one. This collection presents many good recipes based on this refreshing and tart taste. The dishes range from soup to dessert. Each is accompanied by a well-selected wine suggestion. The beef daube is extremely pleasant and unusually light. The capon roasted with lemon slices under the skin is first rate. The vegetable recipes are few, but they are good. We like to keep this book at hand.

The Compleat Lemon, by Chris Casson and Susan Lee.Holt, Rhinehart & Winston $6.95

This is a charming little book to add to one’s collection. It has a nice selection of vegetable recipes, not many, but all of them good. We found the German-style ham, in which the lemon is subdued against a game flavor, excellent. The drawings are pretty. A present for the lemon lover.

The Eggplant Cookbook, by Norma S. Upson.Pacific Search Press $5.95

We do not happen to be particularly fond of eggplant, so we approached this cautiously. The discovery that this staple food is quite agreeable in many dishes was a delight. Most of the recipes, of course, are of foreign origin, and this would seem to account for their unusual and tasty flavor. The eggplant with pork, ginger root, and red bean sauce—which we are told is Chinese—turned out to be very pleasant. The book suffers from lack of finish. For example, in the Chinese dish, it is not explained that Saong see jeung sauce is, in fact, red bean sauce (which we suppose). In the same way, the Aubergine a la Neapolitan is said to be French when surely it must come from Naples. Never mind. The dishes are good. The spiced tomato chutney, which is served with the Indian fried eggplant, is authentic and excellent.

The Potato Book, by Myrna Davis.Morrow $2.95

A charming book. With humor, the author tells us in a lighthearted way just about everything that can be written about potatoes. Here are the basic classic recipes for various potato dishes with a strong New England twist. There are sections on “Potato Crafts” and “Health and Beauty Lore.” Truman Capote’s foreword describes a potato lunch most of us would like to attend.

Better Than Store Bought, by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie.Harper & Row $12.95

We are saddened to see people buying paper boxes of expensive food stretchers in the market. They would do much better if they bought this book and followed it. There are other books offering homemade mixes and relishes. But this one, besides these basics, presents a remarkable array of so-called ethnic foods. It tells how to smoke a chicken properly. There are excellent recipes for sausages, curry, mango chutney, and liqueurs. The book is divided into chapters about meat and fish, dairy products, confections, beverages, and, of course, breads, jellies, spices, and cookies. Readers will save money with this, and they will eat well because they will rediscover the taste of our most often used staples.

The No Baloney Sandwich Book, by Alden Robertson.Doubleday $4.95

This is better than you might think. It would be, for example, an excellent book to give to a teenager as a cooking beginner. The collection makes fine use of leftovers for sandwiches in thoughtful taste combinations. It proceeds from the simple sandwich through the three-decker to the open face. There are delicious dessert sandwiches. All along are useful tips, a good bread recipe, one for mayonnaise, hot sauces, and the like. The curry flavored pork sandwich we thought refreshing as were the surprising vegetable sandwiches. A big step away from the ketchup syndrome.

Some Like It Hot, by Dorthea Lombardo.Ward Ritchie $5.95 paperback

The hottest items in this easy-to-use, clear little book are the titles of the recipes: “Red Lava Chili Sauce,” “Dynamite Depression Beans,” “The Blitz.” The author writes with a fiery imagination, but we found that even the “Fire Alarm Chili” was rather tame. The “torrid” bombshell meatloaf was simply very tasty. The dishes are simple and aimed at the fast-food, meat-loaf family. Actually we suspect that teenagers bored with the usual spaghetti casserole or barbecued hot dog may wake up when the dish, with a little extra “zing” and “tang,” is served under one of these “hotsy totsy” names. It’s worth trying.

Pure and Simple, by Marian Burros.Morrow $9.95

These “delicious recipes for additivefree cooking” may be an eye-opener for those who survive on TV dinners. But the cost-conscious cook who uses fresh ingredients every day will not find anything new or exciting here. Most of us have known for some time that unbleached flour is healthier and that Hamburger Helper and processed “whipped cream” are full of unwanted chemicals. Mrs. Burros gives a few welcome recipes for homemade basic mixes. But the rest of the dishes offered are a mere reflection of her personal taste.

The Family Circle Quick Menu Cookbook, by Jean Hewitt.New York Times Books $10.95

This is a book for those who do not have time to think or to cook. Mrs. Hewitt offers quickies—full meals that can be prepared in less than an hour. Unfortunately, she is a prisoner of the traditional American approach to food. The menus are too heavy and too full. Pastas, bread, and pie are suggested for a single meal. Another calls for a herring-and-potato salad to introduce a main course of chicken with noodles. Most of the recipes have a definite sense of deja vu. Why not concentrate on one excellent dish for each meal? The market list given with each menu is helpful but imprecise. We are not told, for example, what quantity of pea pods will yield the required two pounds of shelled peas.

Private Recipes from Private Clubs, by Beverly Anderson Barbour.CBI $15.95

What a wonderful idea. Here are, we presume, the most popular dishes served in America’s most affluent clubs. The recipes are extremely precise and in each case given in two proportions, one for a family dinner, the other for entertaining. This probably presents the fare found most attractive by upper-middle-class America. No wonder, then, that they use so many pineapple chunks, pimiento strips, and toasted almonds. Because of that, many of these recipes will be perfect for parties. Some are excellent. The beef in horseradish sauce from the Louisville Country Club is one of the best stews or chafing dish recipes we have seen. Also see the Philadelphia Union League Club’s frizzled beef and the New Orleans Country Club’s oyster stuffing.

My Secret Cookbook, by Paula Simmons.Pacific Search $5.95

The author seeks to give us the fastest approach possible to the family meal. The tricks and short cuts do provide a prompt meal if not always a good one. The heavyhanded use of Worcestershire sauce, cream of mushroom soup, and cheddar cheese serves to blanket the taste in most cases. The Mongolian Chicken was attractive, but we spoiled it by using Chinese soy sauce. Always use prepared American ingredients.

Brunch, by Pauline Durand and Yolande Languirand.Barrons $2.50

Brunch has become the most imaginative meal in the United States. It is an ideal time to entertain because it leaves most of the day to recover. This modest book is welcome, for it provides many recipes that may be prepared ahead of time. The menus are abundant and can be reduced. Most dishes are on the hearty side, but the recipes are accompanied by nuggets of information which will prove useful for all cooks.

The Professional Chefs Book of Buffets, by George K. Waldner and Klaus Mitterhauser.CBI $19.95

If buffet becomes an important part of your life, you will find many tips here on attractive presentation. It is a book for professionals, at least for those chefs who are satisfied when their buffet looks like a chromo, whatever the taste.

A Castle Hill Cookbook, edited by Daniel J. Hoisington.Castle Hill $5.00

Castle Hill, a handsome house near Charlottesville, was built by Dr. Thomas Walker in 1765. The Rives improved the structure during the first quarter of the 19th century. Hospitality seems to have been a keynote from the beginning. We have here the earliest recipes of Mrs. Walker and the latest from the present heirs. The book is a charming keepsake for any visitor. While most of the recipes are ordinary ones, some are surprisingly good. Two call for sweetbreads. We particularly like the citrus honey, creme brûlée, and the lime vinaigrette. A few typos here and there add to the charm of the book.

Cooking With Country, by Claudia Burgess.Atheneum $6.95

These are the favorite recipes of country music stars. There are only one or two light dishes, like Merle Haggard’s sweet fried catfish. For the rest you have Buck Owens’ Mother’s Banana Pudding, Tammy Wynette’s garlic cheese grits, and the like. Hearty fare. We tried Conway Twitty’s Twitty Burger. It is built with toasted sesame seed buns, mayonnaise, hamburger, bacon, tomato, and pineapple fried in batter. We have not gone back to it, but many another might. This is an amusing insight into country taste.

The Mini Page Kid’s Cookbook, by Betty Debnam.Sheed Andrews and McMeel $4.95

We would like to praise this book. It is an excellent idea to allow children to work seriously in the kitchen. They love it. But it will make sense only if the minichef is obliged to display skill, creativity, and taste. We find none of this in these recipes. Fun fruit salad is a mixture of fruits from three cans, marshmallows, and cream. A child of four or five can clean and dice vegetables and fruit with a peeler and a “sensible” knife under careful supervision. He or she can taste and decide whether or not an extra banana or some lemon juice might be “fun.” If we leave aside the recipes here which rely on cans, we come to the cookie and dessert ones, which, predictably, are the best in the book. There is even a recipe for Icebox Sugar Cookies which actually requires some flour instead of a pack of refrigerated biscuits. We wish the author would rewrite her book in this vein. It would then be a must for every parent and teacher.

Cooking with Michael Field, edited by Joan Scobey.Holt, Rhinehart & Winston $14.95

This is an embarassing effort at filial piety or an attempt to make more money on a well-known name. Field wrote what he wanted to write when he was alive. To collect his discarded recipes and to fill them out with well-known preparations now that he is gone is a practice, increasingly common among publishers, which we condemn.


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