Casual Cuisines of The World
The Journey Continues with Sunset Books
Sunset Books began its lively trek through some of the world's cozy and intimate neighborhood restaurants and cafes in Bistro, Trattoria and Diner. In three new books— Taverna, Cantina and Far East Cafe—the beautiful Casual Cuisines of The World series resumes the quest to delight the palate with the robust homestyle fare of the world's most popular regional cooking. If you crave simple, honest dining with an international flair, each volume will help create the perfect convivial atmosphere for your next gathering of family and friends.
Tour the tavernas of Greece, the tascas of Portugal, the lokantas of Turkey or the tabernas and tapas bars of Spain in Taverna: The Best of Casual Mediterranean Cooking, a collection of more than fifty classic dishes. And what more knowledgeable guide could escort you down the narrow cobbled streets or along boat-lined harbors and into the friendly neighborhood restaurants of the Mediterranean than celebrated chef and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein? Whether it's a solitary cafe in the square of a white washed seaside village or a noisy little coffee bar off the crowded boulevard of a bustling city, the casual eatery with all its hospitality and bounty comes alive in the evocative flavors of Taverna.
Since the appetizer is an integral part of the Mediterranean table, it is no surprise to find it here in abundance. For a taste of Spain, have plenty of bread on hand to sop up the delicious pan juices of a sizzling Garlic Shrimp. Savory Lamb Pizzas are popular cafe food throughout Syria, Israel and Turkey, while no Greek table is complete without dolmas—Stuffed Grape Leaves. Soups may be served as starters, but a Portuguese "Green" Soup with Kale and Potatoes is a hearty meal that can stand on its own. For fish, fowl, meat or a traditional dessert, Taverna plies us with generous portions of tantalizing dishes like Grilled Swordfish Kebabs, Roast Chicken with Oregano and Lemon and Rice Pudding.
The word cantina in Spanish is derived from the verb "to sing," and the chef/owners of the renowned Border Grill in Santa Monica have beautifully orchestrated a concert of regional Latin American flavors in Cantina: The Best of Casual Mexican Cooking. Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken have rightly earned a reputation as two of the most innovative and acclaimed forces in contemporary cooking, but they have garnered their accolades by blending the traditional and distinctive tastes of the Yucatan and Mexico.
Antojitos—or "little whimsies"—is how the Mexicans describe their appetizers, and Beer-Battered Shrimp with Chipotle-Honey Sauce is a playful mixture of spice and sweet. Follow it with a Summer Squash and Rice Salad, tangy Vegetable Enchiladas or Chorizo and Roasted Pepper Ragout over Quinoa, and you will transform your own dining room into a lively Mexican cantina. Top off your meal with a rich Vanilla Caramel Flan, and watch as the guests at your next fiesta sing your praises.
Our next stop is halfway around the globe in Far East Cafe: The Best of Casual Asian Cooking. Internationally recognized authority on Chinese and Southeast Asian Cooking, Joyce Jue knows that some of the Orient's best and most-loved dishes come from the smoking braziers and steaming stock pots simmering in breezy open-air markets. These "sidewalk cafes" can be homey arrays of makeshift tables and mismatched chairs, or they might be modern air-conditioned food centers, but teasing aromas of spicy satays and stir-fried noodles alert hungry passers-by that they are ready to feast on some of the most delectable food in Asia.
The irresistible Crispy Green Onion Pancakes of China or the Spicy Potato Samosas offered by street-hawkers in India have long provided a way of satisfying hunger pangs with a quick snack, a meal in one dish, or a dinner on the run. The recipes are always family-style—having been handed down from one generation to the next—and even the most popular dishes have their distinctive personalities. The Vietnamese enjoy their crispy Fried Spring Rolls tucked in soft lettuce leaves, and in Thailand, lemon grass and coconut milk subtly perfume a refreshingly light Chicken Braised with Kaffir Lime Leaf.
Each book in the Casual Cuisines of The World series tantalizes the reader with an informal tour of the history of these relaxed and colorful eateries, and every recipe is accompanied by clear, concise instructions and a full-page, color photograph. They also offer illustrated glossaries providing helpful information on implements, techniques and ingredients. The Casual Cuisines of The World series are alternate selections of The Good Cook, a division of Book-of-the-Month Club.
Taverna: The Best of Casual Mediterranean Cooking
by Joyce Goldstein
Photograph by Peter Johnson
Reprinted with permission