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The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook Hardcover – October 3, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471262889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471262886
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 8.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mediterranean cooking expert Wolfert invites readers to sit back and relax, in this, her eighth book (the first has been in print for 30 years)-a charming paean to the kinds of foods that require time to prepare, but are worth the wait. That doesn't mean these are complicated recipes. In fact, most are paragons of the simplicity and highlighting of flavors that have made Mediterranean cooking so popular. Dishes such as a classic Cassoulet use long periods in the oven to produce meltingly soft meat. The dough for Turkish Flatbread Stuffed with Melted Cheese needs to rise overnight, but is produced in a food processor with little effort. A chapter on soups celebrates simmer-it-and-forget-it dishes such as Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Paprika and Mint Sizzle and Mediterranean Marinated Fish Soup, which calls first for soaking fish filets in a mixture of Pernod, wine, thyme and garlic, then covering them with hot broth to cook off any residual rawness. Other recipes simply need to sit for their flavors to meld, as is the case with Cypriot Fresh Fava Bean and Purslane Salad and El Churrasco's Gazpacho with Pine Nuts and Currants. Wolfert does her usual practiced job of seeking out unusual flavors in all corners of the Mediterranean, such as a Butternut Squash and Potato Pie with Tomato, Mint, and Sheep's Milk Cheese from Crete, and providing interesting historical background, like the headnote for Seven-Hour Garlic Crowned Lamb, a recipe culled from a 1929 cookbook of the foods of France's Perigord region.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...slow down, try any of these...recipes, and recapture the special flavors of North Africa or Spain, Greece or Italy." (Associated Press, July 9, 2004)

Mediterranean cooking expert Wolfert invites readers to sit back and relax, in this, her eighth book (the first has been in print for 30 years)—a charming paean to the kinds of foods that require time to prepare, but are worth the wait. That doesn't mean these are complicated recipes. In fact, most are paragons of the simplicity and highlighting of flavors that have made Mediterranean cooking so popular. Dishes such as a classic Cassoulet use long periods in the oven to produce meltingly soft meat. The dough for Turkish Flatbread Stuffed with Melted Cheese needs to rise overnight, but is produced in a food processor with little effort. A chapter on soups celebrates simmer-it-and-forget-it dishes such as Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Paprika and Mint Sizzle and Mediterranean Marinated Fish Soup, which calls first for soaking fish filets in a mixture of Pernod, wine, thyme and garlic, then covering them with hot broth to cook off any residual rawness. Other recipes simply need to sit for their flavors to meld, as is the case with Cypriot Fresh Fava Bean and Purslane Salad and El Churrasco's Gazpacho with Pine Nuts and Currants. Wolfert does her us ual practiced job of seeking out unusual flavors in all corners of the Mediterranean, such as a Butternut Squash and Potato Pie with Tomato, Mint, and Sheep's Milk Cheese from Crete, and providing interesting historical background, like the headnote for Seven-Hour Garlic Crowned Lamb, a recipe culled from a 1929 cookbook of the foods of France's Perigord region. (Sept.)
Forecast: Wolfert has become the brand name for Mediterranean cooking, and this polished effort should sell well on the basis of name recognition and general excellence. The only possible impediment is its title and subtitle, which may scare off potential buyers who fear overly complicated recipes or even give the impression that these recipes require a slow cooker. (Publishers Weekly, August 4, 2003)

In her many previous books (e.g., the now classic Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco), Wolfert wrote about the Mediterranean lifestyle, and here she seeks to recapture that way of life whose "friendly but voluptuous eating experiences" are no longer so easy to find, regrettably. To that end, she offers recipes intended to be both satisfying to prepare and delicious to eat, homey and comforting dishes from all the countries of the region: brodetto Pasquale (Italian Easter Lamb Soup), Expatriate Roast Chicken with Lemon and Olives from Morocco, and Catalonian Fall-Apart Lamb Shanks. Although many recipes call for braising, stewing, and other techniques of long cooking, others are not limited to those techniques, for Wolfert's definition of slow cooking also encompasses marinating and similar technique - i.e., cooking that requires forethought but not necessarily hours at the stove: Overnight Gorgonzola with Saba Spread, for example, or Mediterranean Marinated Fish Soup, prepared in btwo stages. Slow-cooked food has become popular with home cooks and restaurant diners alike, and Wolfert's celebration of the pleasures of that approach with its dozens of delicious and unusual recipes, is highly recommended. (Library Journal, September 15, 2003)

If you buy only one cookbook this year, make it this one. Written by one of the reigning queens of culinary craft, its subtitled "Recipes for the Passionate Cook." The dishes featured may take time in the oven, but they're refreshingly simple given the astoundingly flavorful results. (Metropolitan Home, November 2003)

I defy a passionate cook (or a passionate cookbook collector) to resist The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Paula Wolfert's newest (Wiley; $34.95). It looks almost edible: the cover with its spilled seeds of the pomegranate, the apple Eve probably passed on to Adam, the sensuous photographs. As all her pals know, the woman is a fanatic, a passionate pilgrim to faraway kitchens no matter how primitive, a champion of indigenous ingredients. But authenticity is never enough for Paula. If it isn't delicious, it isn't in her books. And she's there, too, urging you on, passing along little tricks, enticing you to the stove. I can't wait to taste salmon poached in olive oil with rhubarb, cucumber, and mint salad, or the sesame-studded tomato jam. Her slow-cooked duck with olives has the crisp skin and melting interior of a confit but needs no time to mellow. And word on the pastry circuit is that her classic canelés de Bordeaux-lush custard inside a burn-sugar shell-are a revelation. (New York, October 27, 2003)

Quick and easy may rule the day even in Rome, but in The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Paula Wolfert celebrates a more leisurely way of cooking. Her carefully written recipes do require patience, effort, and the occasional uncommon ingredient (Wolfert thoughtfully provides mail-order and Internet sources). But anyone craving the unparalleled flavors that slow cooking coaxes from ingredients will be amply rewarded for his or her time. (Fine Cooking, January 2004)

"Already a classic, this book is full of lusty Mediterranean dishes you can eat with abandon." (New York Post, January 7, 2004)

Since the publication, 30 years ago, of Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, Paula Wolfert has been a precise, ardent student of cooking from Toulouse to Tunisia, and it is in large part due to her steady efforts that American cooks have tagines in their cupboards and preserved lemons in their larders.
Here, however, in this delightful, wandery book, she relaxes. This time around, the cook's cook-who spelled out in the indispensable Cooking of South-West France labyrinthine methods of confit and cassoulet-proffers, among many other good things (a quick confit and a labor-intensive recipe for those glorious pastries the French call canelés de Bordeaux), toast: grilled, browned, homely, and sublime, made with bread left out to dry. For a simple starter, toast is rubbed hard with ripe tomato and drizzled with olive oil ("pure heaven") or spread with thin-sliced avocados and sardines (a recipe from the Canary Islands). It's the base for myriad soups, including kale and black pepper soup from Siena and Easter lamb soup with marjoram and lemon.
What is more basic than toasted bread dunked in soup? Ease reigns, erudition is taken for granted. To augment these offerings, on which one could dine happily for a month of Sundays, dishes include a splendid ragout of artichokes cooked in a wine sauce spiked with orange zest, diced pancetta, and thyme; pork stew with prunes and onions simmered in olive oil enlivened with cinnamon; and slow-roasted chicken with sausage and porcini dressing. Voilà: supper for two, or four, or, as these recipes easily multiply, for ten.
"There are many slow recipes in my other books, but this is the first time I have fastened upon 'slow' as a theme," Wolfert writes. The word slow has lately become a catchword (I have on my desk three recent cookbooks that incorporate it). "Slow" dishes, she tells us, can be prepared in advance and are the opposite of fast food in that flavor is slowly coaxed from leeks and legumes or even fish (as in Wolfert's slow oven-steamed salmon).
Of course, pots have been left to simmer on the back of the stove since time immemorial. The difference between this particular book and a slew of others is Wolfert herself: decisive, imaginative, and well versed. She writes for home cooks who know their way around the kitchen and are ready to try something new, or at least newish: sesame-studded tomato jam or Sephardic oven-roasted eggs (baked for five hours). It's also for cooks who know, as she does, that cooking is really about having something good to eat when you're hungry, and, more often than not, that what's wanted is just a bit of something delicious. On toast. (Gourmet, February 2004)

"It is not likely that anyone outside Morocco knows more about that country's cooking than Paula Wolfert," (The New York Times, February 25, 2004)


More About the Author

Paula Wolfert is widely acknowledged as one of the premier food writers in America and the "queen of Mediterranean cooking." She writes a regular column in Food & Wine, alternating with Jacques Pepin and Marcella Hazan (she came in as Julia Child's replacement), and she is author of eight cookbooks, several of which have remained in print for upwards of 30 years. Her three most recent cookbooks, The Food of Morocco, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and The Cooking of Southwest France, 2nd edition, received glowing reviews.
Wolfert's writings have received numerous awards, including the Julia Child Award, the M.F.K. Fisher Award, the James Beard Award, the Cook's Magazine Platinum Plate Award, and the Perigueux Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Saveur, Fine Cooking, and Cook's Illustrated. In 2008, she was inducted into the Cookbook Hall of Fame by the James Beard Association.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
In a word, this book is astounding!
E. Trent Vernon
Slow down, enjoy life, cooking, sharing, and learning.
Chef Amos Miller
I have tried three recipes from this book so far.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

150 of 155 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The San Francisco Examiner--
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Patricia Unterman
Worth taking the time
Wolfert's new book celebrates art of cooking.
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Patricia Unterman
Special To The Examiner
Published on Wednesday, October 29, 2003
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Every season a new batch of cookbooks calibrated to the trend of the moment, like tapas or a miracle diet or a hot new chef, mount on bookstore tables. Yet every once in a while an inevitable classic like "The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen" by Paula Wolfert (Wiley, 2003, $30) appears. The difference between this expert's meticulous, intriguing, ground-breaking work and the facility of so many of the others is a little like the qualitative divide between novelists Jhumpa Lahiri and Danielle Steel.
Should they share the same table?
Wolfert's books change the way people cook. They appeal to those who get equal pleasure from both cooking and eating, those who love bones, big aroma and depth of flavor, and enjoy producing great, comforting meals in their own kitchens. Her books teach technique at the level of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and they excite and broaden taste by making accessible traditional flavors from a broad swath of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
If you need convincing, leaf through the four sections of seductive color photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer, the magician behind the natural, unstyled Saveur magazine food shot. Wolfert's dishes look crusty, saucy, golden, deep.
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96 of 99 people found the following review helpful By E. Trent Vernon on March 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In a word, this book is astounding! I had a dinner party last week, and started searching for recipes for some comfort food. I decided upon the 'fall apart lambshanks' as the main course. From there, I went through other cooks for other courses, and kept comming back to this one. All in all I chose three recipes to make from this book outta the four dishes I prepared. Pretty risky considering I hadnt cooked anything from this book yet. I chose the aforementined shanks, slow braised leeks, and the avocado sardine toasts as an appetizer. Everything turned out wonderfully, and even surprised me. The sardine toasts, while simple, were very very good. (basically sardines, thinly sliced avocado, scallions, and a vinnagrette dressing on toast). The leeks were absolutely fabulous.. probably my favorite thing.. and will defintaley be what I bring to my next dinner party if I am assigned to bring a vegetable. .. They are firm/crisp on the outside, while the insides just melt in your mouth. They are also very attractive on the plate. The fall apart lamb shanks did just that.. fell right off the bone.. while the recipe was not that complicated, when she says slow cooking she means it. This were a two day endeavor. The night before you marinate them, and then the proceed to cook the next day for about 6 hours.. with about 30 mins to brown them before, and 30/45 mins after you take them outta the oven after to prepare a sauce and cook them in the sauce. My only qualm with any of the recipes is for the sauce for the lambshank... It said to blanch then toast the almonds for the sauce. . but didnt say to peel them or not. I assumed that since I blanched them, the next step was to peel them so I did... but to know for sure would have been nice.Read more ›
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90 of 98 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I approach a review of this Paula Wolfert work with much humility and trepidation. Wolfert is one of the most distinguished cookbook writers of the last 50 years, certainly of the era which began with the publication of Julia Child's `Mastering the Art of French Cooking' in 1962. Wolfert is easily in the very select group which includes Diana Kennedy, Marcella Hazan, and Richard Olney, and only slightly less stellar than Child and Elizabeth David. That said, my focus in the review is to find anything which would detract from giving this new book five (5) stars and be done with it.
Wolfert's primary objective in her books is to give recipes true to their ethnic roots and methods, yet present them in a way so that they may be recreated in American kitchens with ingredients available from the local megamart. This involves some compromises, mostly with the selection of equipment. One does not need a fire pit or a tangine to do these recipes, but one does need several ingredients which may not be available locally. The book, of course, provides internet sources for such ingredients.
The author's focus in this volume is to present recipes from her area of specialization, the Mediterranian, including Spanish, Provencal, Italian, Slavic, Greek, Turkish, Levantine, and Moroccan dishes, devoting all her space to recipes which require a substantial amount of time to prepare, cook, or `age'. She presents at least three rationales for this focus. The first is that she, and presumably her audience, find it very relaxing and pleasurable to participate in this type of cooking. The second is a tie-in to the Slow Food movement centered in Europe. This is specifically a reaction to American fast food sources and specifically to the opening of a MacDonald's at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome.
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