February is a month of love and delight, its chilly air makes cooking a treasured event. It is sweet, cozy, and most of all, delish!  Laurie offers her review of four fantastic cookbooks to sweeten the palate of any cook.

BESTIA: Italian Recipes Created in the Heart of L.A. is a cookbook from the popular Los Angeles downtown restaurant Bestia which features rustic Italian food written by chef Ori Menashe and pastry chef Genevieve Gergis.  I have been privileged to dine at Bestia and love the housemade ricotta with basil, dried zucchini, lemon zest, and grilled bread; spinach gnocchetti with roasted marrow bones; grilled stuffed quail with blistered shishito peppers; grilled fennel-crusted pork chop; butterscotch-coconut tart; and mascarpone rice pudding with persimmon caramel, hachiya persimmons, and orange blossoms.

Valentine’s Day is approaching which makes FOOD 52 GENIUS DESSERTS: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake from Food52’s creative director Kristen Miglore is a trove of iconic desserts spanning the last century.  Who can resist Maida Heatter’s lemon cake; Nancy Silverton’s butterscotch budino: Deb Perelman’s brown butter crispy treats; Amanda Hesser’s almond cake; or Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte?

TASTING ITALY: A Culinary Journey essays by Eugenia Bone and Julia della Croce, recipes by America’s Test Kitchens is more than a cookbook.  This delightful book is a travelogue delving into the cuisine, culture and landscapes of Italy.  The book includes 100 innovative recipes all thoroughly tested by the experts at America’s Test Kitchen which assures you that each recipe will be successful.  The photographs are breath-taking and the food is mouth-watering.  Not only did I find new recipes but I grasped knowledge about Italian cheeses, wines, and information about olive oil.  This amazing book is a must for anyone who loves Italian food, which just might be all of us!!!

THE BEST SIMPLE RECIPES: 200 Flavorful Recipes that Cook in 30 Minutes or Less by America’s Test Kitchen creative cooks offers a wonderful compendium of inspiring ideas to get your culinary juices flowing without the hassle of long prep in the kitchen.  Favorites include: scallop spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette; skillet arroz con pollo;  glazed pork chops with sweet potato hash; broiled salmon with potato crust; sweet chili-glazed tofu with bok choy; polenta with mushroom sauce; sesame noodles with chicken and asparagus; and stir-fried sesame shrimp.

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