Activist, historian and food writer Toni Tipton-Martin’s book, of which I received a review copy, contains more than 100 recipes. But it is so much more than a cookbook. It is a resounding testament to the ingenuity, fortitude, passion and perseverance of African-American cooks throughout the ages.
When you think of African-American cuisine, you might automatically think soul food. But Tipton-Martin shows the real breadth of the cuisine. With hundreds of historical cookbooks she’s collected over the years, she combed through recipes to get at the heart of how black cooks have richly shaped our culinary landscape through the ages.
The result are recipes that are both modern and timeless, such as “Curried Meat Pies,” “Jamaican Jerk Ribs,” “Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings,” “Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne,” and “Caramel Cake.”
What’s more, with many of the recipes, she also includes the actual historical recipe that inspired it with its succinct measurements and directions. By doing so, she connects the past to the present, making you really feel as if you are carrying on a cultural and culinary tradition whenever you take the time and effort to make one of these recipes.
Ancient landmarks, breathtaking artworks, artisan foodstuffs perfected over generations, and the intricate fashions crafted by Prada, Dior and Givenchy.
Those are some of the things I most love about Europe.
Now, comes the newest addition to my list: canned tomatoes.
I never thought I’d get that excited over such a basic pantry staple until the Italian Association of Canned Vegetable Industries and European Union founded the marketing program, The Greatest Tomatoes From Europe, to spread the word far and wide about its canned tomatoes. As part of the program, they began sending out free samples to food writers like myself to give them a try.
I received two cans, 400g each, of Davio Gragnano whole, peeled long, oblong and cherry tomatoes, vacuum-sealed with their juices. When you open the cans, what’s most striking is that the plump tomatoes are afloat in a fairly thick puree of a sauce, not the weak, watery liquid usually found inside most supermarket canned tomatoes. I dipped a spoon in to taste a very vivid tomato flavor. While you might strain out and discard the liquid in other cans, it would be a waste to that here because it was actually a bonus — getting tomatoes and sauce in one.
Inside my sample box were also packages of Pastificio G. Di Martino Italian dried pasta. So there was no question that I’d be making a bountiful pasta dish out of it all. Of course, not that I ever need an excuse to make pasta.
Forget any ifs, ands or buts, because this, my friends, is the tastiest chicken soup you’ll ever slurp up.
The kind that makes your eyes widen in unexpected pleasure from the first spoonful. The kind that boasts layers upon layers of deep, full, satisfying flavor. The kind that nourishes and comforts no matter if you’re ailing or just in need of something wonderfully warming.
The secret is that the chicken in the soup first gets roasted. In fact, the entire soup is mostly made in the oven, concentrating the flavors and leaving the chicken as tender and moist as your favorite rotisserie bird.
“Limon Omani Oven-Roasted Chicken Soup with Celery Seeds” may have a long name with an ingredient or two that may give you pause. But don’t let that put you off from what is essentially a quite easy recipe that delivers more than you’d ever expect.
The collection of one-page recipes definitely don’t intimidate yet they’re enticing enough to want to make for company. McKenna also helpfully includes themed menus to give you ideas on putting dishes together. Savor everything from “Maple & Harissa Chicken Wings with Tabbouleh” and “Irish Farmhouse Cheese Souffle” to “Roast Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese & Saffron Pappardelle” and “Plum Pudding Ice Cream.”
This huge tome is a collection of 1,001 side dish recipes that is sure to complete any weeknight meal or festive holiday repast. At this time of year, it’s a must-have for dishes such as “Caesar Brussels Sprouts,” “Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins,” “Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Lime,” and “Slow-Cooker Creamy Braised Leeks.”