New World Kitchen
New World Kitchen By Norman Van Aken, Ecco, 2003. Hardcover. $35; 322 pages
This very personal interpretation of Latin and Caribbean food comes via the travels and restaurant experience of celebrated South Florida Chef Norman Van Aken, who likens himself to a musician, pulling ideas from all over to create culinary music with a delicious Latin/Carib beat. At times the recipes are a bit of a modern mash-up: A fish chowder with Scotch bonnet chiles is finished with a shot of dry sherry, and Van Aken likes to serve it with an Alsatian pinot blanc. He also understands that the American cook is inclined to simplicity: In a recipe for Acarajé [black-eyed pea fritters] with Crabmeat Stuffing, he swaps a simple crab salad for a more complex Brazilian sauce, but it is delicious nonetheless. Still, this is not shortcut cooking: Dive in, and you'll soon be dealing with pigeon peas, annatto oil, chayote, and evaporated goat's milk, with plenty of clear guidance on regional dishes and flavors.
New World Kitchen is approachable, full of good food and good cheer.
GIVE THIS TO: A cook with flair. —Tiffany Vickers Davis