Shrinking economy leads to smaller cookbooks


PINCHED ECONOMIC TIMES are leading to tiny cookbooks.

The big, glossy photo-filled books that cost a fortune to the consumer are being replaced by tiny books illustrated with a minimum of graphics or drawings. With as few as 42 recipes, these books are quick to read, less expensive and often amusing.

Meatloaf is the hearty stuff of Sharon Moore's book, "Meatloaf," (Clarkson N. Potter, 1991, $10.95 hardcover, 106 pages). The book aims to share both down-home recipes along with ethnic and nouvelle variations such as California Sushi Loaf and Vegetable and Veal Terrine. Miniature loaves served as appetizers, pate, and all manner of ethnic ground meat and vegetable dishes count as meatloaf in this book. Both gourmets and meatloaf traditionalists may gain new respect for the potential of a meatloaf pan.

Those not into meatloaf are probably dining on pasta, standar healthy fodder for hurried eaters. All too often pasta-eaters fall in the rut of the same old cheese or tomato sauce. Joie Warner is out to change that with "All the Best Pasta Sauces" (William Morrow, 1991, $7.95 paperback, 76 pages.) This book, the bargain of bunch, offers instructions for sauces ranging from classic Puttanesca to the more unusual blue cheese and broccoli. Asia, Italy and other European countries influence the well-written recipes that call for kitchen staples and easy-to-find ingredients. Warner offers advice on the kinds of pasta that work best with different sauces, but there are no firm rules. The author clearly understands that pasta lovers dine on impulse, not tedious planning.

Fancy recipes and beautiful art star in "Bouquet de Provence," (Clarkson N. Potter 1990, $16.95, 113 pages) a gustatory nosegay from the French restaurateur Jean-Andre Charial-Thuilier. This book, the most expensive of the lot, also contains the fewest recipes -- a mere 40! But perhaps the price is not unreasonable for a diminutive keepsake book filled with exquisite color drawings of Provencal landscapes and fabric patterns on every page. Recipes are definitely chi-chi -- leg of lamb in puff pastry, scrambled eggs with sea urchins and caviar. Two five-course menus are offered for each season. Delicious literary quotes about the region from Colette, Henry James and others also season the stew. In all, "Bouquet de Provence" is low on practical cooking information, but high on romantic travel lore.

Uncooked Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Sauce

10 large sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato oil or best-quality olive oil

12 Greek olives (Kalamata) pitted and finely chopped

1 large green onion (green part only), finely chopped

Lots of freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Process sun-dried tomatoes and oil in a food processor until the tomatoes become a rough paste.

Toss the tomato mixture, olives, green onion and pepper with hot pasta. Add Parmesan cheese and toss again.

Pass extra grated cheese and the pepper mill for each person to add to taste. Serve with pasta. Makes two to three servings.

.' -- "All the Best Pasta Sauces"

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