All posts filed under: Cookbook Reviews

2016’s Books for Cooks

Yes, I’m squeezing in my seasonal list of books for cooks at the very last minute. This year I’ve got suggestions for readers, history lovers, bakers, spice fans, travel buffs and, of course, cooks. You won’t see any titles by social media darlings or celebrity chefs—if you read Kitchen Kat, you probably already know how to scramble an egg and you probably aren’t going to serve stuffed, roasted goat hearts at your next family gathering—but you will find a wealth of information, solid recipes and great gifts in this mix. Waste Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders (Chronicle Books, 2015) A scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Gunders offers tips for shopping smarter, eating more of what we purchase and throwing away less food. She also provides recipes for making the most of what we have on hand; this includes dishes such as Sautéed Lettuce and Broccoli Stalk Salad. My favorite sections don’t include recipes but instead focus on portion planning, food storage and uses for leftovers and food scraps. Spend less, waste less …

Books for Cooks – 2015’s Cookbook Reviews

Out of the 3,000 or so cookbooks published in the U.S. and the much smaller number that I’ve encountered since last Christmas I have felt apathetic about most, appalled by a few (‘Seriously? Did you not test a single recipe in this book? Apparently not.’) and excited by the following titles. A few are older publications. Several possess 75 recipes or less. Yet, all would be lovely gifts for new or seasoned cooks. Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson (Ten Speed Press, 2015) In Citrus exotic pomelos, yuzu and kumquats join everyday lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit in 75 recipes for drinks, entrees, sides and dessert. Here familiar dishes—key lime pie, limoncello, whole roasted fish with lemon—appear alongside the inventive—grapefruit and gin marmalade, tangerine sticky ribs, orange-rosemary polenta cake—resulting in a broad, approachable, citrus-driven collection. With colorful photos and text Citrus is a pleasant pick-me-up for those dreary winter months. Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done by the Editors of America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen, 2015) …

The Favored Few: Cookbooks in Review

It’s that time of year again, time for my rundown of good books for food lovers and cooks. Among 2014’s recommendations are three sweets-oriented cookbooks, two boozy books, a tome dedicated to Nordic cuisine, another focused on preservation and one devoted to mushrooms. Capping off the list is a quirky and humorous general purpose cookbook. So, without further introduction, here are my favorites of 2014. 80 Cakes from around the World by Claire Clark (Absolute Press, 2014) Fans of baking, world travel and food histories will especially enjoy Claire Clark’s colorful dessert book. It includes traditional recipes for Irish barmbrack, Hungarian dobos torte and Dutch apple cake as well as modern takes on French croquembouche, American doughnuts and Polish beetroot cake. Historical accounts and photographs enliven every sweet. The Little Book of Scones by Liam D’Arcy and Grace Hall (Random House UK, 2014) Possessing the tagline “meet the 21st-century scone,” D’Arcy and Hall’s slender cookbook introduces readers to 30 contemporary scone creations. Basil and salt dip scone sticks and red velvet scone fancies are among …

Whether You Like to Cook or Read a Good Book . . .

I’ve got a few suggestions for you. Being a food writer, avid reader and collector of cookbooks, I come across a wide assortment of food-focused books. Some are good. A few are awful. (Seriously, you don’t test your recipes?) Several end up being so spectacular that I add them to my eclectic collection of favorites. Such is the case with the following books. Great to give or receive, they would be fitting gifts for any foodie. Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy (Atrium, 2013) Straight from Galway, Ireland comes a lovely, wholesome and tad exotic cookbook from the equally lovely, wholesome and tad exotic Ard Bia restaurant. Fitting for new as well as adventurous cooks, Ard Bia tempts readers with luscious photos, engaging anecdotes and fresh, creative recipes. Among the gems are smoked trout pate with caperberries and preserved lemon salsa, the easy, retro Ard Bia Mess, and chickpea pancake with spinach and feta, romesco sauce and tabouleh. With Ard Bia you’ll cook well and eat healthfully throughout the year. Cook’s …

A Basket of Bakers’ Delights

It’s my favorite time of the year — time to bake and eat lots of glorious sweets! For bakers and the bakers on your shopping list I offer a few cookbook titles for the holiday season. Included are some oldies but goodies and loads of delicious treats. The Great British Book of Baking by Linda Collister (Michael Joseph, 2010) A British import, The Great British Book of Baking delights the Anglophile in me. Yet, you don’t have to love scones or soda bread to appreciate this beautiful book. Featuring 120 classic as well as modern recipes and histories and anecdotes for each, it takes readers on a journey through the best of British baking. Please note that ingredient measurements are in metric. Maida Heatter’s Cakes by Maida Heatter (Andrews McMeel, 2011) First published in 1982, Maida Heatter’s Cakes offers 175 reliable, delectable recipes for cakes of countless stripes. Plain, chocolate, layer, fruit, nut, cheese, gingerbread, vegetable . . . you name the cake, this James Beard Award-winning “Queen of Desserts” has it covered. Similar to …

Books for Readers and Cooks

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a voracious reader. Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, cereal boxes . . .. Thanks to my not-so-secret addiction and a gravitation to the culinary world, I consume a lot of good — and not so good — food writing. Below are the best of what I read in 2012. Other than having well-written, well-researched, engaging text and being great holiday gifts, there is no common theme for these selections. Nonetheless, you may notice several America-centric books as well as two with “fork” in the title. These are pure coincidences. Next week, noteworthy baking cookbooks. Taco USA by Gustavo Arellano (Scribner, 2012) Rest assured – this is not just about tacos. Gustavo Arellano discusses a host of Mexican imports including such beloved foods as salsa, tortillas, burritos and, yes, tacos. He includes profiles of such disparate characters as the founders of Frito-Lay, Old El Paso and Chipotle and the creator of the frozen margarita machine. As you might expect from the title and aforementioned figures, Taco …

Great Books for Cooks

As a food writer, occasional reviewer and all-around fan of cookbooks, I have a long list of favorite books. Each year the lineup grows to include recent publications as well as titles new to my collection. Below are the best from my 2012 acquisitions. Whether you’re holiday shopping or just browsing for yourself, the following will be wonderful additions to any kitchen shelf. Next week . . . a few fabulous baking and culinary history books. For the Love of Food by Denis Cotter (Collins, 2011) In his fourth cookbook Irish chef and restauranteur Denis Cotter serves up a wealth of quick, flavorful vegetarian recipes. Over the course of nine chapters he covers such sumptuous dishes as Portobello and roast tomato florentine, orecchiette with broad beans and baby courgettes, and citrus, sultana and maple rice pudding with raspberries. Once again, Cotter offers creative meals that will delight both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Burma by Naomi Duguid (Artisan, 2012) Maybe you love to learn about exotic lands. Perhaps you crave a new cuisine to cook. In either …

A Few Good Cookbooks

With everyone rushing about, searching for holiday gifts, I’d like to suggest a few outstanding cookbooks for your shopping lists. This year I’ve slipped into full Anglophile mode, with four of my seven recommended titles coming from British authors. Yet, no matter from what side of the Atlantic these cooks come, their books will make delightful presents for the food lovers in your lives. Canal House Cooking by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton (Canal House) Created by a founding editor of Saveur and the head of that magazine’s test kitchen, Canal House Cooking is a cookbook-cum-food magazine. It comes out three times per year, covering summer, fall and the holidays and winter and spring. Clothbound, ad-free and chocked full of wholesome recipes, it’s a culinary publication unlike any other. Filled with gorgeous photos and warm, funny anecdotes, it’s also a gift that your recipient will cherish throughout the year. River Cottage Handbook No. 8 Cakes by Pam Corbin (Bloomsbury, 2011) For bakers and sweets fans consider the latest offering from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Handbook …

Good Reads, Great Gifts

I confess — I’ve struggled with a lifelong addiction to books. You need only look at my overflowing bookshelves, desk, nightstand, coffee table . . . really any flat surface in my house and you will see the ridiculous number of books on which I’ve become hooked. Culinary narratives are invariably part of my stash. Call it an occupational hazard or personal weakness but I just can’t escape the lure of food writing. Below are the high points of my 2011 culinary reading list. Some are recent releases. A few are a bit older. All would make great gifts for the food lovers and ardent home cooks in your life. Look for these titles at your local independent bookstores or online from such independent sellers as Kitchen Arts and Letters, Powell’s and The Strand. A Day at El Bulli by Ferran Adria (Phaidon Press, 2008) Although Chef Ferran Adria has shuttered his world-renowned restaurant, you can still get a glimpse inside his temple to molecular gastronomy, El Bulli. A Day at El Bulli provides 600 …

Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts

I grew up with a parent who loathed Martha Stewart. Mention her name and my dad would become apoplectic. “That woman! She’s . . .!” I never understood it. After all, it was my mother, not he, who cooked the family meals and did our decorating. Who knows? Maybe he envied folks who ate bouillabaisse and coq au vin at a table adorned with homemade pine cone centerpieces and dried wild flower napkin rings. Whatever the cause, I knew that bringing a Martha Stewart cookbook or magazine into the house was tantamount to treason. That I’m a fan of one of her cookbooks, well, I can imagine what he’d say – Judas! Yet, I have to admit that I like her latest offering, Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts. Compiled by the editors of Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts provides 150 simple to mildly difficult recipes for pies and tarts. Whether I’m pressed for time or able to spend a few hours in the kitchen, this book has an array of sweet and …