Good ideas are hard to come by, especially when dinner should have been on the table ten minutes ago. That's when "Gourmet" comes in handy. Month after month, readers rely on the magazine for quick solutions as well as planned feasts, and they're never disappointed. The Best of Gourmet, Featuring the Flavors of San Francisco is a collection of 33 ...Read MoreGood ideas are hard to come by, especially when dinner should have been on the table ten minutes ago. That's when "Gourmet" comes in handy. Month after month, readers rely on the magazine for quick solutions as well as planned feasts, and they're never disappointed. The Best of Gourmet, Featuring the Flavors of San Francisco is a collection of 33 menus and more than 325 recipes that were created in "Gourmet's" test kitchens during 2002. If you're looking for inspiration, look no further. As well-traveled foodies know, some of the most exciting, culturally diverse fare in America can be found in San Francisco. In preparation for this year's Cuisines of the World section, "Gourmet's" food editors gathered there to taste their way from one ethnic community to another. One food editor, inspired by the Northern Italian dishes of North Beach, decided to create an ambitious San Francisco Celebration with the Tuscan, Ligurian, and Piedmont flavors of the area. Her menu includes clams oreganata, heady with plenty of garlic, fresh oregano, and lemon zest; pansoti ("little bellies" ravioli) with a rich cured ham, caramelized onion, and walnut filling; roasted leg of lamb infused with little pockets of garlic, fresh thyme, and rosemary; baby bell peppers stuffed with onions, anchovies, cheese, and capers; and an ethereal finale-fluffy ovals of meringue with pistachio custard and chocolate drizzle. Another food editor envisioned the high life of San Francisco as it was portrayed in the glamorous detective films of the 1930s. Her Food Noir menu pays homage to the classics, but here you will find some delightful modern twists. Along with the Martinis and rumaki (broiled bacon-wrapped chicken livers) are beef tenderloin studded with pancetta; rum currant ice cream; and cinnamon chocolate "cigarette" cookies. But that's not all. This section also includes a few surprise recipes from San Francisco-including Irish coffee, crab Louis, and chop suey-as well as a cooking primer on artichokes with plenty of recipes for this succulent delicacy. The Menu Collection offers dozens more year-round inspirations. Planning a family getaway this winter? Here you'll find four complete Weekend in the Country menus that take you from a warming Friday-night supper of kale and white bean soup to a pampering breakfast in bed with baked eggs and mushrooms in ham crisps; to a hearty Saturday-night dinner of brined pork chops; to a memorable Sunday send-off that includes cheddar shortcakes with corned beef hash. The weekend is yours to enjoy with the kids, since most of the dishes can be made ahead of time. Or perhaps you're looking for relaxed warmer-weather menus? Transport your guests to the Tropic of Casual with dishes like island rum punch and coconut shrimp with tamarind ginger sauce. Or gather everyone outdoors with a Sizzle in the City barbecue filled with the Latin American flavors of grilled matambre (spinach-and-carrot-stuffed flank steak) and key lime cheesecake with mango ribbons. More international fare includes an Out of Africa experience with braised chicken and vegetables in a peanut sauce and, for dessert, mango fool. A Japanese menu, entitled The Art of Cool, offers elegance and clean, fresh taste. The steamed corn custards with crab are pure heaven. As always, "Gourmet" has the holidays covered in style. For the Fourth of July, we went All American with a feast featuring a sensational berry tart with ginger cream (shown on front jacket). And, of course, there are plenty of one-dish and low-fat meals from which to choose. You'll even find a selection of dinners for one, when you want to give yourself a treat. Hundreds of additional dishes from "Gourmet's" "Every Day," "Seasonal Kitchen," and "The Last Touch" columns appear in The Recipe Compendium. All recipes give an active time and start-to-finish time, so you'll know exactly how to plan your day. Leaner/lighter recipes offer calorie and fat information. From GourmRead Less
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