On Your Table: Two new cookbooks offer new tastes for 2019

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By Cathy BranciaroliFood Correspondent, The Times

They say that after the indulgences of the holidays, January is the month for salads.  Sure, it’s time for healthy eating after all those decadent holiday meals.  But being winter, it’s also a great month for curling up and reading cookbooks.   And, for trying out new recipes.

I was lucky enough to get an advance look at two new cookbooks, “Poh Bakes 100 Greats” and America’s Test Kitchen’s “Cook it in your Dutch Oven”.  Both offer enticing cooking ideas to liven up the new year.

It’s hard to believe that now is the time to start thinking Valentine’s Day treats but in reality, that day will arrive sooner than we all think.  That’s why the publication of Poh Ling Yeah’s latest, “Poh Bakes 100 Greats” is so timely. It has just hit bookstore shelves and there’s a reason why so many people are talking about it.

The Malaysian-born, Australia-based the acclaimed chef has returned to her first love, baking, for this latest cookbook which is a visual delight and organized into the most intriguing chapters, like Thrills and Frills, Adventure Bakes and Bake Sale Beauties.  Her creations are flavorful, simple and uncomplicated even though some of the ingredients are a trifle exotic – think violet extract.

The photos and illustrations in Poh’s book alone make it worth picking up a copy.  They make even me, a non-baker, want to get into the kitchen and bake something.  Since it’s practically Valentine’s Day, I think it will be ”White Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart,” on page 94.  The swirled raspberry curls atop the individual tarts featured in the photo sold me.  Of course, you could buy the bright pink covered book as a gift for a loved one and let them do the baking.

Also launched for the new year is America’s Test Kitchen’s “Cook it in your Dutch Oven” and thank goodness because the dead of winter is just the right time to haul out that trusty Dutch oven from the back shelf and put it to work.   According to a survey they conducted, 84 percent of us have them already.  No need to run out and buy a multi-cooker.  They work so well because of their heavy cast-iron construction, which holds the heat.  And they can easily go from stove-top to oven.

We tend to think of soups, stews and chili when we think of using the Dutch oven, but the America’s Test Kitchen folks are offering recipes for one-pot meals such as Thai Green Curry with Shrimp and Snow Peas, braises like Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas and Fennel, roasts, deep-frying and even bread-making.

Try whichever of these books strikes your fancy.  After all, it eventually will snow and we’ll be looking to spend time in the kitchen.

Disclaimer – I received advance review copies of these books from the publishers.

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