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Read All About It : From once-obscure Asian cuisines to classic French to the lastest grain craze, the variety of cookbooks available for gift giving swells as Christmas approaches. To help cull the best from the rest, The Times' Food Staff has reviewed the year's most intriguing cookbooks. : The Mediterranean Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein (William Morrow: $22.95, 410 pages).

December 17, 1989|BARBARA HANSEN

An avid cook, Goldstein took up teaching and eventually opened a cooking school in San Francisco. Asked to fill in as a baker at Chez Panisse for six weeks, she stayed three years, taking on such broad duties as training staff, cooking, ordering food and developing recipes for the cafe. It is not surprising that Goldstein eventually opened her own restaurant, the acclaimed Square One in San Francisco.

This book shows her eclectic taste. The recipes are innovative and interesting. Some examples: fish couscous with charmoula, a Moroccan sauce; Greek pork sausage, grilled chicken in an Algerian marinade, Italian mushroom soup with sweet vermouth and tomato, Portuguese style grilled stuffed lamb chops, Lebanese toasted pita bread salad and Catalan baked eggplant with honey, tomatoes and cheese.

Mediterranean food "is simple, unpretentious food, not elaborate restaurant cuisine. It is satisfying to eat and not too complicated to prepare," writes Goldstein.." That should give heart to cooks who would like to add these sunny flavors to their repertoires.

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