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NPR's Best Summer Cookbooks 2009

The 10 Best Summer Cookbooks Of 2009

Download the Program | [6 min 47 sec] 

Weekend Edition Sunday, May 31, 2009 · This year's crop of spring and summer cookbooks is a sprawling, eclectic collection, hard to summarize and harder to sort.

The best of the lot seem to betray a fascination with the arcane: Here we find cooks who didn't know how to stop when it was good enough. Trapped by the ferocity of their own passions, they plunge into the pickles and brines, the secrets of the spice cabinet, the sausage casings and pantry condiments we're usually content to leave to their mysterious, silent shelf lives.

In these books we find a world of thrilling arcana, seemingly custom tailored for a summer in which eating in looks to be the greatest adventure of all.

Citizen of the World

'The Spice Kitchen' cover
The Spice Kitchen, by Michal Haines, Interlink Publishing Group, hardcover, 192 pages, list price: $29.95

In her quirky, globe-trotting book, The Spice Kitchen, Michal Haines displays a range of culinary endeavor that would dazzle the most jaded spice merchant on the Silk Road, leaping from Szechuan to Mexico to Istanbul with nary a segue. Caraway onion cheese scones follow Armenian street bread, which in turn follows Vietnamese baguettes. Born a daughter of many cultures, Haines seems every bit as happy working with cumin, sumac and coriander as she is with ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Spiced Spanish Squid, with its ground almonds, smoked paprika and allspice, reinvents the fried calamari you thought you knew, while the Spicy Chocolate Ginger Tart crosses new frontiers of chocolate with fennel, cloves, caraway and ginger.


Recipes: 'The Spice Kitchen'

Spiced Spanish Squid

Spiced Spanish Squid Interlink Publishing Group, May 26, 2009 · These recipes appear in The Spice Kitchen, by Michal Haines, Interlink Publishing Group, 2009.


 Spiced Spanish Squid
(Serves 6 - 10 as part of a tapas feast)

1 pound squid, cleaned and cut into pieces
grape seed oil for frying
2 1/2 cups ground almonds
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, finely ground
zest of 2 limes
2 eggs, beaten

1. Pat dry the squid.

2. Heat a deep fryer to 350 degrees F. Alternatively, heat enough grape seed oil in a frying pan for shallow frying.

3. Combine the dry ingredients and lime zest in a bowl or plastic bag. Place the beaten egg in a separate bowl. Dip the squid into the beaten egg, a few pieces at a time, then into the dry mix. If you are using a plastic bag, add all the squid and then shake the bag about to evenly coat.

4. Fry the squid in small batches for about 2 minutes, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, until brown and crisp.

5. Drain on paper towels and serve with an aioli as part of a finger-food experience.

Spicy Chocolate Ginger Tart

Chocolate Ginger Tart Interlink Publishing Group

Spicy Chocolate Ginger Tart

1 1/2 cups good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 free-range eggs at room temperature
7 cloves, toasted and finely ground
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, toasted and finely ground
2 teaspoons whole caraway seed, toasted and finely ground
3/4-inch piece ginger root, peeled and finely grated
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup roasted blanched almonds, crushed
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl and position it over a saucepan quarter-filled with water over medium heat. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat until the chocolate has melted and there are no lumps. Stir occasionally to avoid overheating (which is easy to do if you don't keep an eye on things). Set aside to cool.

3. Beat together the sugar, eggs and spices in a large bowl until thick. Add the chocolate butter mix and beat for 2 minutes. Sift in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Fold in the nuts, lemon zest, and milk.

4. Pour into a well-greased 9 1/2-inch tart pan with a removable base and bake 25-30 minutes for a softer, fudgelike tart or 45 minutes for a firmer, crisper result.

5. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tart pan.

6. Cut into thin slices or thick wedges, as desired, and serve with whipped cream.


Copyright 2009 NPR