Quick Recipes and Easy

Searching for Marlena’s Cookery Book

Searching for cookery books on the net can have the same anticipatory pleasure as waiting for a meal in a fine restaurant.

Some years ago I unexpectedly came across a rack of books in a health shop. On it I found 200 Vegetarian Pasta Recipes by Marlena Spieler, a Californian living in London. She is a leading food writer in the USA.

Her pasta book has proved to be delightful asset to a home where the resident vegetarian believes that vegetarianism is synonymous with consuming durum wheat.

Writers of cookery books can take a tip from Marlena: she gives the ingredients in Imperial and Metric in a column on the left of the page and in real-life, or American measures (cups, spoons and bunches) in another column. These twin columns lie atop the method, which is given in point form.

It is a very clean, very convenient and very simple way to present a recipe.

Marlena’s pasta book became a hearty staple of our rather vast bookrack in the kitchen. The book is showing signs of over-indulgence now: loosening pages, herb-and-olive oil splatters. (Tonight it’s Paglia e Fieno al Aurora for supper, otherwise known as Yellow and Green Pasta in a Creamy Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms and Peas.) Many thanks to Marlena.
She writes in such a charming way and with such magnificent enthusiasm for food that I chose to try and locate other cookery books she has written as well. These include The Flavour of California and the Flavours of Mexico. But the one that attracted me was Hot and Spicy.

I live in a place where chilli bushes delight in the climate. In my herb garden grow jalapenos, habaneros, birds-eye and a number of other chilli bushes that are nameless to me now, which produces fantastic handfuls of fruit at harvest time.

Sure, I have cookery books involving chillies, but I was looking for something more integrated.

A comprehensive search for Hot and Spicy on aBillionbooks booksites turned up a couple of copies, all of them too expensive for my taste. I made a want in Alibris and sat back to wait. In a day or two Alibris told me it had found the copy priced right. I ordered and waited with mounting excitement for it to arrive.

Hot and Spicy: Unusual, Innovative Recipes from the World’s Fiery Cuisines turned out to be delightfully funky. You don’t instinctively know to make Tropical Mango and Macadamia Salsa with Tomatoes and Lime (as made in the Caribbean, California and Hawaii). This cookery book not only teaches you that it exists but how to make it.
This salsa is served on a hearty, meaty fish, such as freshly grilled tuna. For the benefit of the vegetarian in the house it is marvelous on baked sweet potatoes too.

Hey, here’s Gratin of Macaroni, Cheddar Cheese and Chilli. Marlena reckons it’s recipe in this collection she has prepared the most, over and over again.

Maybe we’ll skip the Paglia e Fieno al Aurora and do Chillimac. Thank goodness for cookery books!

©Copyright 2006 – Justine Eaglestone

JUSTINE EAGLESTONE is a journalist brick-and-mortar bookstore owner, online bookdealer and booksite specialist. See her blog at search-book-sites.blogspot.com search-book-sites.blogspot.com and website abillionbooks.com abillionbooks.com

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