Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: New York: Capital of Food, by Lisa Nieschlag & Lars Wentrup

Part cookbook, part travel guide, celebrate the diversity of New York city with something sweet, something savoury and something soothing from one of the many cultures that thrive in the city.

New York is the city that never sleeps. When I think of the hustle and bustle, the film representations and my own experiences, I think of hot dogs in Central Park, cops with donuts, and Long Island Ice Tea. The donuts you can buy yourself, but the other two recipes are featured in New York: Capital of Food, along with a travel guide to America’s iconic city and its delicacies.

Featuring stunning photography of the city landscapes and detailed text on the highlighted regions, the authors of this cookbook-come-travel-guide delve to the heart of the place as much as the food.

There’s no cheating here. If you want that hot dog on page 68, Nieschlag and Wentrup will have you making the bun as well. Their recipes are straight forward, although their directions are laid out in chunky paragraphs which force you to stop and read instead of being able to follow along at glance. The ingredient lists are broken into the components of the final dish however, making it easy to just gather what you need. For example, if you prefer to buy your buns ready-made for that mouth-watering hot dog, the ingredients for the overall recipe are broken into three groupings: the bun, the filling, and extras.

New York is a multicultural melting pot and the recipes reflect this with a taste of Greek, Asian, Columbian, Italian, African and western foods, amongst other cultures. The book caters to more than just carnivores and includes some of the essential basics like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Hash Browns, along with more complicated fare. Salads, soups, pizzas, burgers and sweets are all included.

The durable, glossy pages and magnificent design make this cookbook a keeper. The textured cover is the icing on the cake, and my own success with three sample recipes have ensured I’ll be a regular tourist of these pages.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies (page 21)

Found in the Cafes & Coffee Shops section of the book, this cake has just the right amount of sweetness and crunch. The introductory paragraph suggests walnuts as an alternative to pecans and I took them up on that idea since I already had walnuts in stock. The recipe makes 12-16 cakes, baked as one then cut to size. While there are an extraordinary 14 ingredients in this recipe, I had much of it in stock already and the instructions proved to be too easy to believe. The result was an amazing accompaniment to a cuppa that can be made in under an hour.

Home-made Lemonade (page 65)

I was surprised at the effort needed to make this refreshing drink. Although not difficult, a spot of time on the stove top was not what I expected. The result however, is a thick lime-based syrup which is added to sparkling mineral water and served with fresh mint and ice. It’s fantastic and well worth the time as the summer weather sets in.

Spicy Meatballs (page 72)

Meatballs are one of my great comfort foods so my expectations are always high. This dish doesn’t disappoint with its use of cloves, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, lime juice and, of course chilli to taste. It can be served alone as a main meal, with a side dish, or handed around with toothpicks as finger food. I chose the latter and it was an exquisite and satisfying filler until dinner time with subtle flavours that made it taste far more complicated than it actually was to make.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: September 2018
RRP: $39.99 hardcover

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