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Kitchen Confidential

A new crop of cookbooks are ready for the picking.

A new crop of cookbooks are ready for the picking.

It’s not easy bidding farewell to summer’s alfresco dining, but the waft of rich autumn dishes emanating from the kitchen can draw even the most sun-soaked foodie indoors. This season, home cooks will be offered plenty of guidance when it comes to planning fulfilling family meals. Here, WWDScoop presents a sampling of the latest crop of cookbooks.

DOLCE ITALIANO: DESSERTS FROM THE BABBO KITCHEN
(W.W. Norton, October)
Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant is pretty much carb city. And, if its rich yet delicate pastas weren’t indulgent enough, the kitchen also has been dishing out decadent desserts, thanks to pastry chef Gina DePalma. Now the Brooklyn, N.Y., native is offering up her own recipes. “Italy has a huge sweet tooth,” DePalma insists, “and Americans really only know the basics: tiramisu, gelato—that’s about it.” To that end, the chef, who has worked at Babbo since it opened its doors nine years ago, has packed Dolce Italiano with recipes for unexpected treats such as Florentine doughnuts and toasted sesame semifreddo. Batali wrote the foreword and calls DePalma’s writing “inspirational food porn.” Clearly, she’s equally inspired by her boss, although she employs more delicate phrasing. “This book really is my love letter to Babbo,” she says. Up next: The dessert doyenne will release a second cookbook that explores regional Italian specialties.

Standout recipe: Panna Cotta. “Its really simple, really pure and you can serve it any time of the year,” says DePalma.

1080 RECIPES
(Phaidon Press, November)
Spanish chef Simone Ortega’s 1080 Recipes was first published 35 years ago and, two million copies later, the cookbook remains the holy grail of Iberian cuisine. The recipe for its success is simple enough: Combine equal parts Spanish standbys (spicy gazpacho) with Ortega originals (langoustines with American sauce). This fall, the first English-language edition of 1080 will hit shelves, with new whimsical illustrations by Javier Mariscal and notes by masters of Spanish gastronomy, including Andy Nusser of New York’s Casa Mono.

Standout recipe: My Paella. Ortega makes her version of the traditional dish using her own prawn stock and serves it with plenty of lemons.

PURE DESSERT
(Artisan Books, November)
Alice Medrich is out to convince home bakers that desserts are a piece of cake. The key, she says, is using simple and elegant ingredients. For Pure Dessert, the chef, who began her culinary career when she opened a chocolate shop, Chocolat, in Berkeley, Calif., more than 30 years ago, took inspiration from Americans’ interest in organic foods and high-quality ingredients. “[These days] people can’t get enough of whole grains,” she says. So Medrich dedicated a whole chapter to them and their sweet possibilities. Beyond that, Pure Dessert is chock-full of uncomplicated recipes for treats such as strawberries with rose cream and honey snaps.
Standout recipe: Sour Cream Ice Cream. “It’s so simple for the home chef,” Medrich says. “Nothing more, not even a whisper of vanilla, is needed.”

 

FANDANGO: RECIPES, PARTIES, AND LICENSE TO MAKE MAGIC
(Artisan Books, November)
Over the years, socialite Sandy Hill has proven that, whether in the kitchen or the gossip pages, she can dish it and she can take it. Now, in her first cookbook effort, Fandango: Recipes, Parties, and License to Make Magic, the raven-haired hostess explores the art of entertaining. Stephanie Valentine, formerly of Charlie Trotters in Chicago and head chef at Hill’s Oak Savanna Vineyard in Santa Barbara County, Calif., contributed recipes, and Hill pal Martha Stewart penned the introduction. Hill herself staged the occasions in Fandango, which range from a casual family cookout with braised pork spareribs to an opulent Indian-themed fete complete with costumed elephants. Regardless of the formality or informality of the event at hand, Fandango pairs each recipe with an appropriate wine or beer.

Standout recipe: Foie Gras Terrine. “It makes excellent leftovers for a midnight snack,” Hill says.


CREOLE

(Phaidon Press, Fall)
Some say you can’t go home again, but Créole author Babette de Rozieres certainly isn’t one of them. As part of her latest project, the French television personality celebrates the cuisine of her native Guadeloupe, a group of islands in the Caribbean. Her motivation for the project was simple. “My first aim was to convey, export and spread my culture,” the 60-year-old Parisian declares. And, as if she didn’t have enough on her plate between television gigs and writing her first cookbook for an American audience, the mogul also owns a restaurant in Paris, La Table de Babette, which serves haute Creole fare, and designs her own dishware line (sold exclusively at her eatery).

Standout recipe: Red Snapper With Caribbean Sauce. Says de Rozieres: “The tender flesh of that fish and the spicy taste of the sauce make this meal the Guadaloupean national dish par excellence.”