British food writer and television host Diana Henry spent five years traveling around the chillier parts of Europe and North America, sampling regional cold-weather recipes. Roast Figs, Sugar Snow is the result, a collection of dishes from New England, Quebec, Russia, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, northern Italy, France, Britain, and Ireland.
The ingredients used — sweet, nutty-fleshed pumpkins, burnt-sugar-tasting maple syrup, and earthy wild mushrooms — not only reflect the colors and flavors of the colder seasons, but have an ancient magic about them. Many of these foods — such as the cranberries farmed on the bogs of New England, or the cheeses made in the French Alps — have their own special heritage, farmed or made in the same way for centuries.
Here are recipes, for example, for potatoes and cheese from Italy’s ski slopes, and pastries from the coffee houses of Vienna and Budapest. Here are Russian appetizers, Québécois chowder, Italian chocolate cake, and Irish stew.
Winter cooking comes with its own unique pleasures. Shutting the door on the rain and snow and gathering around the stove to cook for friends and family brings warmth to the heart as well as the hands.
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