Day-After Dilemma Solutions
It isn't as often that I yearn (or, for that matter, can't wait) to find a new cooking store or comb a Borders to look at new cookbooks. This past month I cleaned and (sort of) catalogued my cookbooks and food literature. I found that I had some duplicates and some that I would probably not use again.
I have at least seven or eight Indian cookbooks, two or three on Korean cooking, and probably more than a dozen on Jewish cooking (even though I have my own Jewish recipes, most of which I have cooked for three decades). So, I took three big bags of cookbooks and gave them to the Book Barn in Niantic. (If you haven't perused the cookbook section of the Book Barn, which is near the Niantic Cinema, what are you waiting for? Plus, they have an enormous cat named Frank, whom I love, and I don't care that he is way too fat.)
So, does this mean that my shelves are less obese than they used to be? Nope. Now I can buy some more, of course.
This year I probably bought a dozen or so. Others arrived gratis on my doorstep because I was asked to write about some Connecticut cookbook authors. I bought another terrific one in Portland, Me., at Leroux, possibly the best foodie shop I've ever been to.
Here are my favorites of this year:
"New Haven Chef's Table," written by Linda Giuca and Nancy Freeborn, with a foreword by Faith Middleton. The great thing about this cookbook is that not only are the recipes amazing, but all of them come from New Haven's restaurants.
The second excellent cookbook is Dorie Greenspan's "Around My French Table." Dorie's recipes always work (she tests them in her apartment in Manhattan or her kitchen in Connecticut), but her stories make me keep her cookbooks on my bedside table.
The third is James Peterson's "What's a Cook To Do?" This small handbook answers the questions you may have in your kitchen, like, "How should I use sage?" "How do I cook an artichoke?" "How can you thicken stew?" and "How do I peel a pineapple?" All together, there are 484 questions, and Peterson answers each of them.
Here is a recipe from "Around My French Table" that you can make if you have some leftovers after the Christmas roast beef. Most of the ingredients are already in your pantry.
Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need more Lee? Find other À la Carte columns and some delectable recipes online at www.zip06.com.
From Dorie Greenspan's "Around My French Table" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2010)
Serves about 4
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons grainy mustard (preferably French)
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
About a pound of cooked beef, cut into small cubes
1 to 2 spring onions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and finely chopped (scallions are fine)
20 green olives, pitted and cut into slivers
10 to 15 cornichons, drained and thinly sliced
10 grape tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1 to 2 red chili peppers, seeded and finely sliced)
1 tart apple, peeled or not, cored and diced
1 to 1½ tablespoons drained capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Arugula, spinach, or mixed salad greens, for serving
Olive oil, for greens (optional)
In a small bowl, stir mayonnaise and grainy mustard together. Taste dressing and, if you think you want a little more heat, blend in the Dijon mustard.
Toss all remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper into a large bowl and stir to mix. Spoon dressing over the salad and, using a rubber spatula, stir together well. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Line a serving bowl or plate with the arugula or other greens (there's really no need to dress them, although you can toss them with a little olive oil if you like to) and mound the beef salad over it.
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School's out throughout the region, and we're getting ready to take our readers to the beach for our annual summer series.