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The 10 Best Summer Cookbooks Of 2009

May 26, 2009 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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This year's crop of spring and summer cookbooks is a sprawling, eclectic collection, hard to summarize and harder to sort.

The best of the lot seem to betray a fascination with the arcane: Here we find cooks who didn't know how to stop when it was good enough. Trapped by the ferocity of their own passions, they plunge into the pickles and brines, the secrets of the spice cabinet, the sausage casings and pantry condiments we're usually content to leave to their mysterious, silent shelf lives.

In these books we find a world of thrilling arcana, seemingly custom tailored for a summer in which eating in looks to be the greatest adventure of all.

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Going Home for Takeout

The Flavors of Asia, by Mai Pham for the Culinary Institute of America, DK Publishing, hardcover, 272 pages, list price: $35

Playing for Keeps

Preserved, by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, Kyle Books, paperback, 224 pages, list price: $22.95

The Method In The Madness

Cooking Know-How, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, Wiley, hardcover, 416 pages, list price: $34.95

Farewell, Taco Bell

Tacos, by Mark Miller, 10 Speed Press, paperback, 176 pages, list price: $21.95

Raising the Greek Flag

Vefa's Kitchen, by Vefa Alexiadou, Phaidon Press, hardcover, 704 pages, list price: $45

Chasing The Flavor Train

Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned, by Elizabeth Karmel, Wiley, paperback, 352 pages, list price: $19.95

A Gourmet Guide to Edible Flora

The Modern Vegetarian, by Maria Elia, Kyle Books, hardcover, 160 pages, list price: $24.95

Blissful in the Bayou

Real Cajun, by Donald Link, Crown Publishing Group, hardcover, 256 pages, list price: $35

Citizen of the World

The Spice Kitchen, by Michal Haines, Interlink Publishing Group, hardcover, 192 pages, list price: $29.95

Why I Need Another Ceramic Peeler for My Birthday

Lemongrass and Sweet Corn Soup (see recipe) from Maria Elia's The Modern Vegetarian makes for a refreshing summer meal.

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