Been searching for Grandma’s long-lost recipe for mincemeat cake? Or still struggling to replicate the delicious sweat-inducing chicken curry you had during your London vacation?

The folks at America’s Test Kitchen (the force behind Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazine) have it covered with their latest books, ‘‘The Best International Recipe’’ and ‘‘America’s Best Lost Recipes.’’

The international tome is the company’s latest entry in its Best Recipe series. Nicely organized by region, it dissects foreign dishes (most now quite common in the U.S.) with Cook’s Illustrated’s signature achingly clear methodology.

The editors did a fine job of tweaking these recipes for an American audience without sacrificing authenticity. Testing notes usually include serving suggestions, as well as shortcuts.

Meanwhile, ‘‘Lost Recipes’’ collects the ongoing effort of Cook’s Country magazine to locate and update so-called heirloom recipes, the oatmeal cakes, blueberry boy baits and Tennessee stack cakes of the world.

Though this book also includes savory recipes, it’s the desserts that are most fascinating. Short histories at the start of each recipe reveal what the editors were able to learn of its provenance.

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WEST AFRICAN SWEET POTATO AND PEANUT SOUP

Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

Servings: 4 to 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, minced

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

Salt

3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons peanut butter

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, coriander and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the broth, water, sweet potatoes and peanut butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.

Working in batches, use a blender or food processor to puree the soup until smooth, then return it to a clean saucepan. (At this point, the soup can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Reheat over medium-low heat.)

Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the cilantro, and serve.

(Recipe from ‘‘The Best International Recipe,’’ America’s Test Kitchen, 2007, $35)

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BOOKS: ‘‘The Best International Recipe,’’ America’s Test Kitchen, 2007, $35 and ‘‘America’s Best Lost Recipes,’’ America’s Test Kitchen, 2007, $29.95



AP-CS-11-05-07 1321EST

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