Title: Mighty Spice Cookbook: Fast, Fresh and Vibrant Dishes Using No More Than 5 Spices for Each Recipe by John Gregory-Smith (Duncan Baird Publishers, $24.95, 224 pages)
Generally speaking: Mighty Spice Cookbook is a culinary world tour. Author John Gregory-Smith uses spices in ways many would never think to use them. Each recipe uses no more than five spices.
For: Adventurous foodies. If you're looking for a cookbook that is completely different than anything you have, this is probably it. There is an array of unusual and not so readily available ingredients such as sumac, Chinese leaf lettuce and nigella seeds.
Recipes: Turkish lentil soup, golden temple lamb curry, alleppy shrimp curry, Veracruz rice with seafood, Mayan hot chocolate, Moroccan cinnamon and lemon chicken and broiled lamb skewers with a bulgur wheat salad.
Title: Now Eat This! Italian: Favorite Dishes from the Real Mamas of Italy — All Under 350 Calories by Rocco DiSpirito (Grand Central Publishing, $26.99, 384 pages)
Generally speaking: If you're new to Italian cooking, this would be a great starter cookbook because there are many classic dishes but also some that may not be familiar. All have been tweaked to save fat grams and calories. Many Italians are all about family and food and this book showcases both. Scattered among the recipes are lots of photos of DiSpirito and his family.
For: Anyone who loves DiSpirito and Italian food. The recipes are perfect for any skill level and most ingredients are easily found at your market.
Recipes: Hand-torn pasta alla Bolognese, farro risotto with mushrooms, lasagna Bolognese, swordfish with salsa verde, peaches and prosecco with almond cream, and anise and orange biscotti.
Title: Tart It Up! Sweet & Savory Tarts & Pies by Eric Lanlard (Mitchell Beazley, $19.99, 176 pages)
Generally Speaking: Pies are comforting whether for dessert like apple and pecan or as an entree, as in chicken pot pie. They not only have different fillings, they come in different forms like traditional, hand and tarts. Lots of mini recipes, as well as accompaniment recipes like condiments and side dishes, are included in the book.
For: Pie lovers of all kinds. It is important to note that the recipes use many different pie plates and tart pans. If you are adept at converting a recipe that makes individual servings into a larger pan you'll be fine, otherwise make sure you have the right pan for the recipe. There is a lot of variety so you're sure to find a great tart or pie for all tastes.
Recipes: Seafood and potato pie, apricot, honey and pistachio tart, papaya and roasted pineapple tart, Thai crab mini pies, tarte au citron, artichoke and black olive tart, calzone, Iberian chicken pie and summer vegetable pie.
Chinese Pork Dumpling Soup
5 cups chicken stock
2 star anise
2-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and roughly sliced
1 garlic clove
4 scallions, cut into batons
3 cups shredded Chinese leaf lettuce
1 large handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
For the dumplings:
9 ounces ground pork
1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and finely grated
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
To make the dumplings, put all of the dumpling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well, using your hands to mash everything together. Make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed to guarantee maximum flavor. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop, or overnight in the refrigerator if time allows.
Meanwhile, pour the stock into a large saucepan and add the star anise, ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
Pull off a golf ball-sized piece of the pork mixture and roll it into a smooth dumpling using the palms of your hands. Set aside and repeat until all of the pork mixture is used. You should get about 8 dumplings.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully drop the dumplings into the saucepan with the spiced stock. Add the scallions, Chinese leaf lettuce, cilantro and soy sauce and gently mix everything together. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer 8 to 10 minutes until the pork dumplings are cooked through and beautifully tender. You can cut one open to test. Serve immediately so the greens stay lovely and fresh.
Orecchiette With Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
6 ounces whole wheat orecchiette, such as Delallo
2 cups broccoli rabe, cut into 1-inch pieces, large stems discarded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, finely chopped
4 ounces lean ground pork
2 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the orecchiette and cook about 1 minute less than the package directions for al dente. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for 1 minute. Drain.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes. Add the fennel seeds, then quickly add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Add the broccoli rabe and pasta to the skillet, tossing to coat evenly with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and add three-quarters of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Spoon pasta and broth into 4 bowls and sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart
3 red bell peppers
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 prebaked flaky pastry shell, in a 9-inch diameter 1 ¼-inch deep tart pan
7 ounces goat cheese, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus extra to garnish
3 eggs, beaten
⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cut the bell peppers into quarters and remove the seeds. Place the bell peppers on a roasting pan with the garlic and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over them. Roast in a preheated oven, at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the peppers are nice and soft. Set aside and leave the oven on.
Put the remaining oil in a saucepan over low heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften, then add the balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 5 minutes, until all the vinegar has reduced and you are left with red onion marmalade. Spread this evenly over the bottom of the cooked pastry shell. Arrange the roasted peppers on top followed by the goat cheese. Sprinkle with the thyme.
Mix together the eggs and yogurt in a small bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Place the tart on a baking sheet, then pour the egg mixture over the tart.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the tart is set and golden. Sprinkle thyme over the tart to garnish.