COVER Lemonade Cookbook, TheTantalizing taste buds is the goal of many a chef and cook. The overabundance of chefs and cooks who can tell you just how to do that may seem daunting as millions of cookbooks grace the shelves. One, however, I was fortunate enough to have sent to me by the fabulous folks at St. Martin's Press: THE LEMONADE COOKBOOK: Southern California Comfort Food from L.A.'s Favorite Modern Cafeteria by Chef Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli.
It is not so much the classic recipes I know well that inspire me in this book, but the unique blend of herbs and spices with crisp vegetables and softer fats and proteins. I absolutely adore stumbling upon recipes that are just a little different, breaking up the monotony of the mac and cheese routine. The Ahi Tuna, Snap Pea, Watermelon Radish, and Ginger Vinaigrette is my absolute favorite, blending the sweet vinaigrette with a crispy radish, and slightly seared and soft Ahi tuna. In any recipe, it is the blend of contrasting yet complimentary tastes and textures that truly make a dish delicious. The out-of-the-box Chinese Style Braised Duck, rainbow chard, pineapple, cashew, and Chili-Coriander Vinaigrette achieves a similarly satisfying meal.
I was particularly drawn to the Mediterranean inspired dishes, such as the Moroccan Chicken, with Dates and Olives and one of my childhood favorites, Chicken Basque (check out the recipe below!). These warming stews are more than just a wintertime treat, but delightful to enjoy in any type of climate. Repurposing the Chicken Basque in a sandwich recipe later on in the book is a particular treat. The art of leftovers is truly that, art; being able to use the remains of an already enjoyed dish in a way that has yet to be enjoyed is a key way to make the most out of your monthly grocery shopping. The Lemonade Cookbook most clearly can help an average cook to do that.
To balance the flip side, I found many recipes in this book to use too many ingredients. For the demographic that will likely purchase this book, 22-ingredients to prepare a BBQ Brisket can seem daunting. Although the end result is sure to please, recipes like these are better enjoyed when our rear ends are parked in a seat of one of the ten locations of the Lemonade eateries. The dessert section also left me slightly uninspired. While I adore chocolate chip cookies and coconut cake as well as the multitude of other classic desserts, these recipes are tried and true. If Chef Jackson makes a mean chocolate cake, then I would much prefer to, again, take the time to enjoy it as he makes it, not as I do. For folks outside of LA who have never heard of the spot, they don't know any different, so why add to the over abundant recipes already available all over the web?
All in all there are many recipes in this book that readers will love to try. If you have yet had the chance to visit one of the many Lemonade locations throughout Los Angeles County, make the time to get there. The selections are abundant, fresh, and absolutely delicious. Although marked with LA pricing, portions can be kept small to satisfy smaller wallets. No matter what, make sure to get your hands on one of their specialty lemonades; perfect to cool down on a glamorous Los Angeles afternoon!
About the Authors Born into a Hollywood family, ALAN JACKSON is grandson to famous actor Alan Ladd and son to legendary talk radio host Michael Jackson. He's had a love affair with food and creating memorable meals since opening his restaurants Jackson's and The Farm in Beverly Hills in the early 1990s.
JOANN CIANCIULLI has coauthored cookbooks and served as an expert on Top Chef Masters. She is also a producer on Recipe Rehab, MasterChef, and Top Chef.