Since 1990, Sara Foster has been delighting the patrons of her two North Carolina gourmet takeout food stores with refined yet unpretentious fare that reflects her Southern upbringing and years as a professional cook on the East Coast. The Foster's Market Cookbook
, penned with food writer Sarah Belk King, collects dozens of Foster's most popular recipes, beloved for their use of high-quality seasonal ingredients and rich, imaginative flavor combinations. As with Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
and myriad tomes by Martha Stewart (for whom Foster worked in the 1980s), Foster's debut provides both advanced and fledgling home cooks with impeccably tasteful dinner-party menu ideas and creative weekday meals.
Starting the book as you might your morning, Foster offers tantalizing breakfast possibilities such as Sticky Orange-Coconut Pinwheels and traditional-with-a-twist brunch dishes such as Mushroom-Risotto Hash with Fried Eggs and Grilled Ham. Next come more than 15 soul-warming soups, stews, and chilies (Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Chowder is just one of many must-make entries); sandwiches and snacks; salads and sides; entrées; and desserts. Main-dish highlights include Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Prosciutto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (they're so good and so easy to make!), Grilled Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella and Zesty Tomato Sauce, and Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Tom Thumb Tomatoes and Foster's Pesto (a perfect quick spring meal). The desserts are divine, including chic confections such as Four-Layer Blueberry Gingerbread Cake with Mocha Cream, a collaboration with Durham pastry chef Kathy Edwards, as well as old-fashioned treats like strawberry shortcake and pecan pie (nicely jazzed with bourbon). Throughout, sidebars and tips on techniques give cooks additional opportunity to learn from Foster's fine food sensibility. For connoisseurs of simple yet sophisticated cuisine, The Foster's Market Cookbook truly titillates. --Rebecca Robinson
From Publishers Weekly
In the tradition of the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Foster has put together favorite recipes featured at her two Foster's Markets (where she prepares and sells seasonal dishes) in Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C. Much of the food is simple and depends on fresh, quality ingredients enhanced by herbs and spices for its success. Starting with a wide selection of muffins and breads, such as the moist Granny Foster's Banana Walnut Bread, the book covers a range of breakfast and brunch dishes before moving on to soups, stews, chilies and the more traditional sandwiches, spreads and snacks of a gourmet market store. The Provencal White Bean Dip is given an unusual twist with sun-dried tomatoes and capers, and the Curried Chicken Salad is paired with whole-grain or pumpernickel bread for a savory combination. The salads, sides and entrees such as the Mediterranean-inflected Sauteed Chicken Breast with Artichokes, Lemons and Capers or the Roast Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Italian White Beans and Spinach show influences from other cultures from Italy to Asia. Old-fashioned desserts like Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Pound Cake round out the book. Enhanced with photos and scattered sidebar tips, the book is well designed and user-friendly, making it a welcome addition for those who plan their meals with the seasons. (On sale Apr. 23)