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Cookbooks

December 20, 1987|TONI TIPTON

Whether you're buying gifts for a culinary novice or an expert, an ideal present is as close as the nearest bookstore. The Times' Food staff looked at a sampling of the cookbooks released in time for this holiday season and offers the following reviews to assist last-minute shoppers. Some of these books get down to the basics, some deal with ethnic cuisines while still others are as much a feast for the eyes as for the appetite. These--or the host of other cookbooks you'll find on sale at local stores--will not only delight the recipient but might ensure the giver some memorable repasts during 1988.

Cook It Light by Jeanne Jones (Macmillan: $19.95 hardcover, 279 pp., illustrated).

In her syndicated column, Jeanne Jones develops recipes that combine "gastronomy--the joy of truly fine food--with nutrition--the study of proper fueling of the body." She's applied the same theory to her book. It offers recipes for dishes that are traditional favorites yet are healthy and lower in calories.

To devise a light version of a recipe, Jones begins with the recipe in its original form--crab-shrimp mold, for example. Then she lists the problem areas--those ingredients that have high fat and calories--and adapts them to produce a healthier option.

In the mold recipe, for instance, she substitutes homemade tomato soup for canned and saves calories, sodium, preservatives and MSG. Instead of mayonnaise, which contributes calories, cholesterol and is high in fat, her recipe calls for part-skim ricotta cheese, tofu and reduced-calorie mayonnaise.

In addition, Jones offers guidelines for decreasing the amount of fat in dressings and in sauteed vegetables, for increasing the amount of fiber and calcium and for controlling sodium, cholesterol and sugar. She also gives suggestions for organizing the kitchen for more efficient cooking. Defatting is discussed, as is the historical derivation of each recipe.

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