A Dessert By Any Other Name Wouldn't Be As Sweet

My love for Food52's website was the catalyst for discovering another baking guru, by the name of Yossy Arefi, the author of Sweeter Off The Vine.  Touting a collection of "fruit desserts for every season", now we have an excuse to indulge, no matter the time of year.

The Spring section features rhubarb, strawberries, cherries, as well as a number of herbs -- most notably, lemon verbena.  The Summer mix brings apricots, mixed berries (think blueberries & blackberries, to name a few), melons, stone fruits (nectarines & plums make their entrance), raspberries and most epic of all -- figs.  To have enough figs on hand in summer after snacking is the goal for next summer, in order to attempt the beautiful "soft chocolate and fig cake" featured on page 123.

As the temperatures drop like the leaves, we welcome the grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, pears and squash.  Quince is also featured -- and sadly, I have yet to find it here in NYC, only in membrillo form -- a sweet but slightly astringent dense jelly which is made by cooking down quince for a long time, mixed with sugar.  The wintry fare features classics such as cranberries, citrus fruits and dates.
The stunning photography is inspiring for the intermediate baker ready to up their desserts to the next level.  Arefi also includes her "year-round essentials" -- her pie crust is tried and true.  The recipes here are creative and serve as an amazing springboard for spinning off new favorites.

This book was received from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for review.

Mixing It Up In The Matrix

As an avid fan of cookbooks, one can easily get lost in the sea of new options and want to build a library of just cookbooks to immerse in for inspiration and transport yourself to various beautiful foreign lands through exotic spices and flavors.  Mark Bittman, being a vetran of cusines, has curated an amazing summary of options in a single source of foodie delights -- The Kitchen Matrix.

The Kitchen Matrix does for me what I wish I could transfer easily from my thoughts onto paper.  It has all the nuances of meals broken down so you can take a base of egg noodles, for example, and transform them into 4 different new dishes, simply by changing up a couple of ingredients, and suddenly the dish takes on an Chinese flair with fish sauce, sesame oil, cilantro and green onions -- or  Thai with the infusion of lemongrass, coconut milk and roasted peanuts.

Plenty of stunning snapshots of the permutations of culinary possibilities for simple but tasty ingredients are sprinkled throughout.  Flipping through for just a couple of minutes, you get inspired to come up with yet more combinations.  This cookbook is excellent for the medium to experienced home cook who needs flexible recipes that are actually not really recipes, but more like the useful tips from a friend who happens to be a chef, shared over a delicious meal shared at home.

This book was received from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for review.