Friday, April 10, 2009

Falling Cloudberries:
New Cookbook Review

Jealous of Kiros' diverse family recipes and map-skipping travels, I read Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes from cover to cover, bookmarking tasty bites with flavors that span the globe. I was inspired to cook something immediately, but choosing a recipe proved difficult. My sweet tooth argued for dessert. But would it be the crumbly crisp Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns from Finland? Bougatsa from Greece, its layered filo baked with sweet, custard-like filling? Cream cheese-filled Bourekia cookies from Cyprus? In the end, Kiros' grandfather's Rice Pudding recipe (page 192), a mildly sweet and comforting dish, was the perfect footnote for the dinner I'd already eaten.

Part memoir, part family scrapbook and entirely food-driven, this is the cookbook I wish I had written. Reading it feels familial, infused with childhood and nostalgia. Finished with my initial reading, I flipped through the book a second time to make my grocery list. The book already looked like a member of my (admittedly large) cooking library, torn paper scraps marking favored items and desserts with my notes for accompaniments. It being April, I'm baking up the South African cinnamon-swirled Bobba's Babka (page 246) for Easter brunch. Hopefully my family will love the recipe as much as I do.

Served with a bit of nostalgia, this recipe collection provides a great balance of flavors with an approachable, continental flair. When this book arrived in the mail, I celebrated. There's a beautiful heft to the book — brimming with gorgeous patterns, color photography and thick, glossy pages — that makes it seem a prize, worthy of celebration and, perhaps, a bit more of that lovely rice pudding.

More recipes on my "To Try" list:
Chickpea, Feta & Cilantro Salad
Baked Lima Beans with Onions, Tomatoes and Parsley
Fried Potatoes and Artichoke Bottoms
Little Lemon Cakes
Olive Oil Bread
Pistachio and Rucola Pesto
Red Pepper Soup with Olives, Lemon Zest and Yogurt

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