Elizabeth Berry's Great Bean Book

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9781580080316: Elizabeth Berry's Great Bean Book
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Profiles a variety of common and exotic beans, offering recipes by such chefs as Mark Miller and Alice Waters

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Review:

The Great Bean Book is a collaboration between Florence Fabricant, a food writer for The New York Times, Elizabeth Berry, a farmer near Santa Fe, NM, who grows hundreds of kinds of beans, and Lois Ellen Frank, a photographer specializing in the culinary arts. Deceptively slim as a string bean, this book is crammed with information, color photos, and dishes that stick with you like a rich cassoulet. Informative and intriguing, it is vivid with the colorful history of legumes and with photographs of 35 varieties of beans, from ivory white emergos, still nested in their verdant pod, to black runners, bright as polished onyx.

Fabricant provides the story of beans, starting with the emergence of legumes in Paleolithic times. She describes the three great families of beans, soy from Asia, haricots from the New World, and favas from the Old, where their cultivation began in 4,800 BC or earlier. Her description of "the tantalizingly subtle, smoky flavor that hints of coriander" in the Mark Bean, handsomely dappled in maroon over warm beige, and followed by chef Mark Miller's recipe for stewing these beans with anise, coriander and hot chipotle chiles, demonstrates the romance and gustatory pleasure that are possible with legumes.

Many of the 53 recipes in The Great Bean Book were contributed by well-known chefs. They range from the bold simplicity of Mediterranean Chickpea and Feta Salad with Olives to Larry Forgione's sophisticated Seared Red Snapper with White Aztec Beans and Chanterelles, where the lush beans compliment the lean fish, and both are enhanced by the flavors of the silky mushrooms, mellow Sherry, and earthy rosemary.

Flip through The Great Bean Book and never again will legumes seem dull-looking or monotonously bland and boring. Note: while some dishes are meatless, many include meat, poultry, or fish. --Dana Jacobi

From Library Journal:

Berry is known as the "Bean Queen"Aalthough she grows other things at her northern New Mexican ranch, it's her heirloom beans that have made her famous in culinary circles. She started out growing specialty produce for Coyote Caf?, Mark Miller's well-known Santa Fe restaurant, but now the focus of the ranch is what New York Times food writer Fabricant refers to as Berry's "library"Athe 300 or so different bean plants she grows each season and what could be called the reference section, jars of dried beans from adzuki to white emergo. The authors cover just 30 of these beans in their book, providing description, background, cooking information, and (usually) one recipeAoften from a chef who cooks Berry's beansAfor each type. A nice book, but considering Berry's knowledge of unusual beans, disappointing in its brevity. For larger collections. Carpenter and Sandison are the authors of more than half a dozen previous cookbooks, including Hot Wok (LJ 6/15/95). Although their subject this time seems a rather narrow one, they offer dozens of delicious recipes for ribsAspareribs, baby back, country-styleAinspired by cuisines all over the world: Szechuan Fire Ribs, Moroccan Glazed Ribs, Southwest Barbecued Ribs, and more. There's a good introductory section on cooking techniques and an illustrated glossary of ingredients. For most collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Florence Fabricant; Elizabeth Berry
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