Couch Potato Winter 2014-2015

by Brooke McDonough

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Winter is a season for cooks.

The days are shorter, bringing us indoors for warmth, comfort, and food.

There is nothing cozier than lighting a fire on a winter’s day and poring over a recipe. But for sophisticated cooks, winter-cooking goes far beyond simmering sauces and stews, and with more international ingredients grown and produced locally, winter comfort foods have changed. We found three cookbooks that will inspire you to live in your kitchen all winter, while taking you on a culinary journey around the world.

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Azorean Cooking

by Maria Lawton

Local author Maria Lawton’s new cookbook, Azorean Cooking, will transport you right out of winter and into a Sao Miguel kitchen. Lawton combines international flavors, comfort food, and nostalgia for her grandmother’s New Bedford kitchen where she first became passionate about Azorean cooking. Azorean Cooking is a tribute to old school cooking, when using local and fresh ingredients and spending the day in the kitchen with family was customary. The subtitle of the book is “From my family table to yours,” and the book feels that neighborly, the recipes are accessible while evoking a different time and place. Lawton is at her best highlighting staples of her Portuguese heritage with recipes for Sopade Couve (Kale Soup), and Arroz Doce (Sweet Rice Pudding), giving readers a taste of her culture. Best of all are the stories and photos of her grandmother and Azorean immigrant relatives, sharing the origin of her kitchen with her readers.

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Roast Figs Sugar Snow

by Diana Henry

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It has been said that the Irish have a way with language. Diana Henry, Irish chef and author of Roast Figs Sugar Snow, is no exception. This cookbook imparts a magical feel through food descriptions, poetry, and photography of winter scenes. In fact, Henry’s early love of reading (the lushness of The Arabian Nights and the simplicity of Little House on the Prairie–where she first read about sugar snow) inspired her love of cooking. Her chapter headings are literary and full of Old World imagery. “Ripe and Ready,” the first chapter, is a celebration of international cheese dishes including Alsatian Tarte Flambé, and Georgian Cheese Pies. From “Gathering In,” you’ll find Chestnut and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, and in “Field Days,” her version of Irish Stew (made with lamb shanks) is “the only one you should ever use.” Our favorite chapter, “Sugar Snow”, pays tribute to Vermont maple syrup—the kind that comes from trees that freeze in the woods overnight, which Henry writes about in language that is warm, inviting, and even romantic. And what other cookbook dedicates a whole chapter to plums, damsons, and figs?

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The Natural Food Kitchen

by Jordan Bourke

The Natural Food Kitchen brings healthful eating to a global level. Jordan Bourke, author of the popular Guilt Free Gourmet, seasons his recipes with spices from around the world and creates food pairings that are original and tasty. Pumpkin and Coconut Laksa, for example, is a noodle soup (of sorts) with a spicy curry paste. Bourke uses the stunning Delica pumpkin for sweetness, (if you can’t find one, use a butternut squash). Although one of Bourke’s goals with The Natural Food Kitchen is to create meals that avoid sugar, wheat and dairy, this book is more a gourmet delight than a diet cookbook. Whether you’re making Crispy Squid Salad with Almonds, Chili and Lime Crumble, or a simple Beef Taco with Avocado and Smoked Paprika Aioli, you’ll find that the recipes in this book show much thought and care about each ingredient. Bourke is also a food stylist, so it’s beautifully illustrated with luscious and gorgeous food photography by Tara Fisher…this is a book easily judged by its cover.

Brooke McDonough is the manager of Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury and an avid reader of all things fiction. She has a soft spot for big, beautiful cookbooks and keeps the shop well stocked with them. She lives in Duxbury with her family.

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Kale, Glorius Kale

by Catherine Walthers

Cathy Walthers will win over health food enthusiasts and foodists alike with her latest cookbook, Kale, Glorious Kale. Its mouthwatering recipes and vibrant photos take us on a gastronomic journey through her “Kale Chronicles”, as the leafy green is creatively featured in everything from sweet breakfasts (Kale Granola) to savory main courses (Kale Cioppino) to craft cocktails (Kale Marys) and more. What sets Walthers’ book apart from so many other kale cookbooks is her ability to make healthful dishes look and taste irresistible, while teaching us smart yet simple techniques to produce that same “Kale, YEAH!” response in our own kitchens.

Walthers is a local private chef, cooking instructor, and the former president of Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard. She passionately supports her island’s farmers and features their local-grown produce in her recipes. Her expertise is evident in explanations on everything from why kale is a nutritional superstar to why locally-grown is best, and the little known fact that kale is sweetest in late fall to winter (good news for New England gardeners). Her Kale Margarita from the chapter on “garden to glass” cocktails, paired with a side of Kale, Pumpkin and Bacon Brittle, will have you swooning and craving more. The book offers a helpful chart entitled “Flavors and Foods that Kale Loves” that enables you to experiment and create your own dishes, there is even a section on massaging your kale—if you are into that kind of thing. Walthers tells us that she ate kale for 140 consecutive days, sometimes at every meal, to taste-test every recipe and ensure it was a winner.

For anyone who wants a more nutritional bang for their buck without skimping on taste, Walthers’ cookbook is a clear winner and a glorious addition to any kitchen’s library.

Deneen McQueen is the owner of Whole Soul Wellness—health coaching to nourish women; mind, body and soul. She and her family live, and love cooking together, in Hingham. Peace, Love, and Kale!

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