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New World Kitchen: Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine    by Norman Van Aken order for
New World Kitchen
by Norman Van Aken
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Norman Aken is the Coral Gables award-winning chef who is credited with coining the word fusion when referring to the combination of ingredients from other countries and other cultures. Don't miss a really interesting forward to New World Kitchen; ditto for the introduction. Important preparation tips will be a big help when trying Chef Van Aken's recipes. These dishes are varied and from Latin American countries and the Caribbean. There are too many dishes to list, but from reading the recipes, I wish I could try them all. Honestly.

Start with Carnival and Street Foods (doesn't that conjure up sounds of wonderful music, crowds of milling happy people and good, good food?), then move on to Tapas and Little Plates - those delicious little appetizers served with drinks. A recommended wine or beer accompanies most recipes and backgrounds of the foods precedes each dish. The country of origin is printed at the edge of the page.

Soups and Stews intrigued me, especially Guiso-Corn and Clam Stew. Salads and Ceviches runs into Fish and Shellfish - all of which would keep me happy. Such great ingredients married to produce tempting and obviously flavorful foods. Wouldn't Sea Bass with Creamy Ragu of Tomatoes, Basil, Potatoes and Onion set you up for the evening? Birds segues into Meats and I must mention the Creole Mustard-Glazed Calves Liver with Escabeche Onions. Wow.

Foods of Feasts and Traditions are next. How about Gallina Rellena (Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Beef, Pork, Potatoes, Raisins and Olives)? Its photo made me salivate. Then come the necessary items to finish a plate - Rice, Starches and Other Sides. Can you imagine Purple Potato Mash rounding out your dinner plate? I can. Now, one of my passions - Breads. Oh, my, Cheese Corn Rolls! Desserts - Tropical Fruit Beignets - had beignets in New Orleans. Can't imagine them with fruit. Sounds glorious. As does Mama's Mocha Melting Love Cake. Don't you love that name?

Beautiful color photographs feature some of the dishes Chef Van Aken offers us. He also offers recipes for staples in your larder that you can make yourself. Roasted Garlic Oil and Roasted Garlic did it for me. Salsas, Sauces, Mojos, Marinades and Vinaigrettes 'are served as a dish's complement rather than being its underpinning rationale'. Cocktails rounds out a really intriguing cookbook, full of new ingredients and innovative ideas for combining the old.

I think I'll start my meal off with a Green-Eyed Lady made with Tequila and Curacoa. Accompanying that, Stamp and Go (Beer-Batter Seafood Fritters). Then a small cup of Fish Chowder (want to leave room for more to come), just a taste of Conch Salad with Pickled Onions, Sweet Peppers, and Watermelon. Deviled Lobster is a must. Then a child's portion of Grill-Roasted Rack of Lamb in Red Mole, served with Pan Cubano (Cuban Bread). For me. No child better get near it. Top this all off with Sopapillas (Pastries with Honey and Cinnamon). Now just bring on a couch for me to lie down and sleep off the meal of my dreams.

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