November 03, 2008 12:00 PM

Making Pie Crust with Martha
by Elizabeth Gleick

The goal was simple: to make a pie crust without cursing. No matter what I do, my dough always requires emergency repair work, and always bad words are spoken, often in front of small children.

Which is why I came to Martha Stewart’s kitchen, hoping to learn firsthand the technique in her latest book, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. This large but unintimidating volume breaks down the basics, from knife skills to stock-making and beyond, with her trademark step-by-step words and photos.

So can she help? Side by side we whipped up some pâte brisée, then Martha took me firmly, and a teeny bit scarily, in hand. Let’s just say the rolling pin I brought would not do. And life in Martha’s well-staffed TV kitchen (she’ll hold similar cooking lessons on her syndicated show starting Oct. 21, then Wednesdays through November) resembles life in mine as much as, well, my finished apple pie resembled hers (she had cute dough-leaves on top; I had thumbprints). But by my second crust, I was in the groove. A few secrets? Cut up butter for the dough, then chill it. Get a large rolling pin. Use her recipe, which makes a generous amount (use extra to make tartlets for the kids). And remember what Martha, over and over again, kindly told me: “It’s only dough.”


Giada’s Kitchen
by Giada De Laurentiis

The Food Network star serves up lively Italian fare with a California twist; highlights include Curried Chicken Sandwich with Radicchio and Pancetta. There’s even a chapter of clever recipes for kids (Parmesan Fish Sticks, “Pizza Pot Pies”) that will charm pint-size sous chefs.

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
by Ina Garten

“Instead of looking for new ideas,” writes Garten, “I’m looking for … the best ways to make delicious food.” Among her tasty finds:


• 2 fennel bulbs, tops removed

• 1 lb. fingerling or small potatoes

• 1/3 cup good olive oil

• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 lb. French string beans, trimmed

• 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 3-in diagonal pieces

• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut fennel bulbs into six wedges each; place on sheet pan. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and add. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper; toss. Roast for 25-30 min. until potatoes are tender, tossing once while cooking. Toss in beans and asparagus and roast for 10-15 min. Sprinkle with cheese and roast a minute or two until cheese melts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

by Jennifer McLagan

Dedicated to “all the Jack Sprats out there—you’re wrong,” McLagan’s book is a smart, sensual celebration of the flavorful animal fats prized by chefs and shunned by a generation of lipo-phobes. Her French Fries in Lard may change your life forever.

by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

The owners of a hip Brooklyn bakery share recipes for classic confections jazzed up with this-minute ingredients (think Almond Green Tea Cupcakes). Their fudgy “Baked Brownie” is an Oprah fave.

A Platter of Figs
by David Tanis

In earthy seasonal menus, Tanis evokes the tastes of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, where he is head chef for half the year. A winter treat: Braised Beef served with Celery Root Mashed Potatoes.

Real Food for Healthy Kids
by Tracey Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel

No hidden veggies here. With recipes taste-tested by kids, this is a guide to helping little ones learn to love food that’s—yep—wholesome.

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