August 8, 2012
"Cindy's Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share With Family and Friends," by Cindy Pawlcyn (Ten Speed Press, $35)
What it is:
During a chat between celebrated Napa Valley chef/world traveler Cindy Pawlcyn and graphic designer Marianne Agnew, the women mused: "How nice it would be if people could come after work and dinner would be ready." That, writes Pawlcyn, led to a cool poster (by Agnew), regular four-course dinners with wine (by Cindy) and the birth of Cindy's Supper Club nearly a decade ago.
Pawlcyn — who caught the travel bug young, road-tripped with her family from their Minnesota home and headed to Europe at 16 — brings her appetite for the world's cuisines to this, her fifth cookbook, as well as her restaurants (Mustards Grill, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Brassica) and appearances on Bravo's "Top Chef."
Praises and quibbles:
The 25 appetizer-to-dessert menus are built upon dishes from the Americas (Hawaii to Peru), Europe (Austria to Russia and Georgia), Africa and the Middle East (Ethiopia to Lebanon), and Asia (China to Thailand). The menus' 125 recipes were home-cook tested; most have a helpful intro from Pawlcyn. Recipes range from simple (Lebanese spiced walnuts and olives) to more challenging (Hungary's gulyas).
You've got to love a book that gives you a recipe for making Italy's limoncello for limoncello-drenched babas. Pawlcyn offers "Tips and tricks," from using agar agar to working with phyllo, and coaches: "Before you take even a spoon out of a drawer, sit down and read the recipe from beginning to end." And: "If you are nervous, start out small and make just one dish from a menu. Or, try seasonings from a cuisine that is new to you with something that is familiar, like chicken."
Why you'll like it:
A delicious challenge from the author: "Don't pass up the cuisines that are new to you. Cook and serve something you have never prepared before."
— Judy Hevrdejs, Tribune Newspapers