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Cookbook Giveaway: Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume

Color, texture and spice come together beautifully in these Crunchy Red Swiss Chard Falafel.

Purple Citrus and Sweet PerfumeBritish chef, restaurateur, writer and food personality Silvena Rowe brings seductive elegance to Eastern Mediterranean cooking in Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean. Silvena grew up in Bulgaria and her father is Turkish; she credits the vast 500-year rule of the Ottomans for creating a “melting pot of cuisines” in the Eastern Mediterranean region, from Athens to Budapest, Cairo to Beirut and beyond. Through her stories, Silvena takes us on a food journey and delivers simple recipes for lush, spiced Mediterranean home cooking.

What about the cookbook’s intriguing title? In an interview on The Splendid Table, Silvena says that “purple citrus” is sumac, a purple spice with a citrusy flavor, while “sweet perfume” is for the flowers commonly used in Eastern Mediterranean cooking.

Start your exploration of Silvena’s Mediterranean cooking with a few recipes for simple mezze. These are foods for socializing, and she describes them as a “glittering array of dishes” of different colors and textures. So round up a friend or two and give these a try: Crunchy Red Swiss Chard Falafel and Baba Ghanoush.

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Cookbook Giveaway — Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

A Supper of Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Basil

Gently simmered zucchini, tomatoes and basil makes the perfect summertime meal. Photograph by Jonathan Lovekin

Tender CookbookWith summer produce at its peak, in all its juicy, flavorful goodness, Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch is the perfect cookbook to have on hand to take advantage of all your farmers’ market booty. British food writer, cookbook author and TV personality Nigel Slater obviously has a passion for produce — his cookbook is organized by ingredient, with many recipes informally written in “garden-log” style. Whatever looks most alluring at any given moment, that’s what we should all be buying and eating, and with Nigel’s garden-inspired cookbook you’ll never be at a loss for what to cook, from asparagus to zucchini.

If the carrots look great at your farmers’ market, you can flip to the “Carrots” chapter (right between “Cabbage” and “Cauliflower”) to find a little carrot primer and recipes like A Soup the Color of Marigolds, Carrot and Cilantro Fritters and A Carrot Cake with a Frosting of Mascarpone and Orange. From fun appetizers and easy sides to mains and desserts, Nigel includes them all.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Food From Many Greek Kitchens

Pork Skewers

Skewer up some oregano-spiced pork for a Greek feast courtesy of Tessa Kiros' new cookbook, Food from Many Greek Kitchens.

Food from Many Greek Kitchens CookbookCraving a fantastic summer vacay? Escape to Greece and eat like a native with Food from Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros. Not only does she bring the flavors of the Mediterranean into our kitchens, Tessa is a great cultural tour guide, delving into classic culinary traditions and dishes. And along with the 200+ recipes and engaging writing, snapshots of home kitchens and local markets vividly illustrate the bright, sun-soaked food paradise of Greece.

Get your culinary get-away started with a mixture of menzedes, or shared appetizers – flavorful bites like Tomato Fritters, Peppers Stuffed with Feta and Fried Calamari.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Southern Biscuits

Flaky Appetizer Cream Cheese Biscuits are made with three ingredients, cream cheese, butter and flour, and come together easily in the food processor. Photograph by Rick McKee

Light and flaky, rich and moist, crumbly, silky, buttery, savory: Yes, there are a lot of biscuits out there, and I can’t think of a more fun summer project than exploring them all, baking up batch after batch for picnics, potlucks, grill-outs and backyard barbecues. With Southern Biscuits, by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart, perfect recipes and techniques for a whole slew of biscuits are delivered in one beautiful cookbook.

They begin with an invaluable “Biscuit Basics” chapter – my biscuits will never be the same now that I know the importance of low-gluten flour, the difference between fats, eight different methods for shaping biscuit dough and more. The recipes start with easy biscuits, requiring only a few ingredients and simple steps, and then dive into traditional biscuits, requiring more ingredients (butter, lard, oh my!) and a little more love. But the truth is, even though baking biscuits is an old-time tradition, they’re surprisingly quick and easy to make and deserve a place in everyone’s modern, busy lifestyle.

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By the Book: The Food of Spain

Bell Peppers Stuffed with Rice in Tomato Sauce

From Valencia: Bell peppers stuffed with saffron-flavored rice are baked in homemade tomato sauce.

The Food of Spain

Years ago, I spent a few months in Madrid working as a culinary intern in an upscale restaurant. I intended to learn as much as I could about Spanish food and cooking, but of course spent most of my time chopping and peeling, observing and eating. I didn’t end up coming home with a single recorded recipe.

Flipping through The Food of Spain, I was transported back to that hectic Madrid kitchen — chopping garlic, roasting and peeling peppers, blanching and peeling tomatoes, cleaning shrimp. And now, finally, in this cookbook I found the key to re-creating all the familiar dishes I encountered there, from potato omelets and paella to more obscure finds I can’t wait to try, all delivered with invaluable context.

The Food of Spain is for food lovers who appreciate a cookbook that’s equally as valuable on the nightstand for curling up with a good read, as it is in the kitchen when you’re ready to get cooking. James Beard Award-winning author Claudia Roden, best known for the classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food, is a master at putting food into cultural and historical context. The first 121 pages of The Food of Spain delve into the country’s food history, focusing on ingredients, dishes and regions. Recipe subheads and headnotes contribute a wealth of information about the region of Spain the dishes are from as well as Claudia’s personal experiences discovering and cooking them.

Start cooking from with these favorites from the book:

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By the Book: Grandma’s Cookies, Updated by Milk & Cookies

Milk & Cookies Bakery Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nostalgic and comforting, bake a batch of Milk & Cookies Bakery Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies today. Photo by Antonis Achilleos

Milk & Cookies
About a month ago, a ho-hum company meeting took a riveting turn when I bit into a cookie from a large tray making its way around the conference room. It tasted of pure comfort and nostalgia. . . I tried another, and another, sampling each kind, breaking off pieces here and there – they were all really, unbelievably irresistible.

Like that Progresso soup commercial (where the customer calls the company looking for her grandma), it felt like my Grandma Hazel was hanging out in a New York City bakery, surprising me with amazing cookies even (dare I say?) better than I remembered. The source of these comforting cookies was Milk & Cookies, a bakery not far from our office, tucked into a tiny storefront on a narrow Greenwich Village street. It seemed like fate when I realized the new cookbook I was eyeing on, Milk & Cookies, was from the same bakery where my grandma just might be baking me cookies.

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By the Book: The Japanese Grill

Pork Chops with Yuzu-Miso Marinade

Pork Chops with Yuzu-Miso Marinade are tangy, spicy, tender and amazingly flavorful. (Photo: Todd Coleman)

Growing up in the Midwest, my first exposure to Japanese food was a local teppanyaki restaurant, where knives would click, flames would fly and I would anticipate the first whiff of seductive, sizzling sauce hitting the flat-top grill, the aroma permeating my senses, getting tangled in my hair. 

Brushing a beef marinade from the new The Japanese Grill cookbook this week, the same alluring aroma came sizzling off my grill pan, and I was instantly hooked. The authors — Japanese-born Tadashi Ono (chef at Matsuri in NYC) and food writer Harris Salat — came up with a simple yet brilliant concept: combine American-style grilling (steaks, chops and chicken over a backyard grill) with basic Japanese flavors.

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By the Book: Cooking With Gwyneth and Loving It

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow cooks fresh and fast food in her new cookbook, My Father's Daughter. (Photo: Ellen Silverman)

My Father's DaughterWhen one of my favorite actresses started to chum around on TV with my favorite Food Network and Cooking Channel chef, Mario Batali, the world seemed to tilt uncomfortably on its axis, and I wasn’t sure how I liked it. But this didn’t stop me from signing up for the newsletters from Gwyneth’s lifestyle web site, GOOP. And it certainly hasn’t stopped me from pouncing on her new cookbook, My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness

Gwyneth begins the introduction to her book “Okay, I wrote a cookbook.” — then goes on to explain the title as a chronicle of her personal food journey: She learned to love food from her father who passed away in 2002, she spent some time as a vegan and vegetarian, and has, as a mother, dedicated her efforts to feeding her own family responsibly

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By the Book: Fast & Easy Weeknight Recipes from Food Network Mag

Pita Pizzas

Pitas take a turn on the grill and then get topped with fresh veggies and cheese, for a new, quick take on pizza.

Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals: 250 Fun & Fast Recipes

I have to admit that working for Food Network, as well as Cooking Channel, I’m a little biased in my opinion of Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals: 250 Fun & Fast Recipes. As a loyal fan and reader since the first issue of Food Network Magazine, the weeknight dinner recipes have become staples in my daily life. When the workday speeds by and I start wondering what I’m going to make when I get home, I often grab the latest issue stashed on my desk and flip to the “Weeknight Cooking” section. There’s always plenty of quick dinner ideas (preferably 30 minutes or less), covering a range of cuisine options and requiring very few ingredients I don’t already have on hand.

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By the Book: Vegetarian Cooking With Super Natural Every Day

Heidi Swanson's Mostly Not Potato Salad is a delightful mix of barely cooked and raw veggies tossed with a vinaigrette.

Heidi Swanson's Mostly Not Potato Salad is a delightful mix of barely cooked and raw veggies tossed with a vinaigrette.

Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day I like blogger cookbooks, since it seems like the authors have reached success in the most democratic way possible – with the public voting through clicks and comments. Readers are drawn to their personalities and connect with their food sense, so it’s only natural that the best bloggers should create more organized, sticky-note friendly versions of their favorite recipes. Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks fame published the James Beard-nominated cookbook Super Natural Cooking in 2007, an introduction to her Northern Californian vegetarian and whole foods cooking style. With Super Natural Every Day, her just-released, follow-up cookbook, she simmers down the same concepts into an approachable day-to-day, meal-by-meal collection.

I had fun reading Heidi’s blog posts about putting together her second cookbook, from manuscript to cover selection and her eventual preview post with sample recipes. Heidi actually cooked and photographed the recipes in real time, as she was living her life and eating her meals, and the book came together nicely as a guide to every day cooking and eating.

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