From the Shelf
Gift Books: Let's Eat
Our annual food issue always presents the problem of choice. So many fabulous cookbooks, so little room. Below we have 15 reviews, and here we offer six reviewlets, because we love cookbooks.
Moorish: Vibrant Recipes from the Mediterranean by Ben Tish (Bloomsbury, $36) is a lush, spicy collection of Spanish-Jewish-Arabic dishes, like Flamenco Eggs (his take on Shakshuka), Smoky Sardines with crushed fennel and sumac, and Spiced Gin with Blood Orange. Exotic recipes from halfway around the globe are in Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia (Apollo, $35) by Eleanor Ford. While some of the dishes require unfamiliar ingredients, like kencur or salam leaves, Ford explains the prep in detail, so Ayam Taliwang (smoky grilled chicken) or Spice Rice are as easy to cook as they are delectable.
Shane M. Chartrand, with Jennifer Cockrall-King, explores his First Nations' heritage in Tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine (Ambrosia, $29.95). Tawâw (pronounced ta-WOW) showcases his culinary journey from childhood in Alberta to becoming an executive chef, with recipes arranged by season: Fried Smelts with Wild Rice, Carrots and Leeks; Seared Salmon; Beet-stained Potatoes with Horseradish Cream. Northern America comfort food.
Lest we forget dessert: The Perfect Pie (America's Test Kitchen, $35) has such luscious photos that you will immediately want to try Blueberry Earl Grey Pie, or Chocolate Cream Pie in a Jar, or my grandfather's favorite, Buttermilk Pie. Smaller bites can be found in Cookies for Everyone by Mimi Council (Life Long, $30). Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Crack Butter Cookies, Cinnamon Honey French Macarons--yum. The recipes include instructions for gluten-free and high-altitude cooking, a boon to cooks.
Finish off all these great meals with tea. Henrietta Lovell, in Infused: Adventures in Tea (Faber, $26.95), chronicles her love affair with tea. She wants to change the way we drink tea, and explains how to make a perfect cup, with specifics about different types of leaves. "The good stuff is loose and lovely and will flood your life with happiness." --Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
In this Issue...
by Alissa Timoshkina
A Russian expat updates classic regional dishes for modern kitchens in this stunning cookbook.
Mandy Lee collects some of the best essays, recipes and photographs from Lady and Pups, her no-holds-barred, mostly Asian-inspired cooking blog.
Review by Subjects:
Sci Fi 'Where Women Steal the Show'
Following the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, Quirk Books featured "other sci fi books and movies to watch where women steal the show."
Mental Floss shared "10 strange questions people asked NYPL librarians before Google."
The Conversation explained "why French poet Charles Baudelaire was the godfather of Goths."
From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, author Catherine Chung picked her top 10 books about mathematics for the Guardian.
With Xue Feng's rotating bookshelf, "children can get books from suitable position easily," Bookshelf noted.
Rediscover: The Joy of CookingIn 1931, after losing her husband to suicide the previous year, Irma S. Rombauer self-published 3,000 copies of The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat (the printer, A.C. Clayton, had only ever printed shoe and mouthwash labels before). All of those copies had sold by 1936, when Rombauer found a real publisher, the Bobbs-Merrill Company, to release a new version. Unfortunately for Rombauer, she acted as her own agent during negotiations and signed away the copyright for this new edition and her 1931 work, which caused problems in decades to come. By the fifth edition in 1964, Rombauer's daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, was in charge of editing the book, which had expanded from 500 recipes in the original to more than 4,000. The last version Becker edited was the sixth in 1975, which sold six million copies and can still be found in many kitchens. Rombauer's grandson, Ethan Becker, has overseen editing since then.
Today, Scribner is publishing a ninth edition of The Joy of Cooking, featuring 600 new recipes and 4,000 updated ones. Rombauer's great-grandson, John Becker, and wife Megan Scott have expanded the cookbook's vegetarian and gluten substitute options while exploring new cooking techniques such as sous vide, fermentation and pressure cookers. At 1,200 pages, this edition ($40, 9781501169717) is the most comprehensive yet. --Tobias Mutter
Food & Wine
Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen
by Alissa Timoshkina
In Salt & Time, Alissa Timoshkina writes with passion and nostalgia about the dishes of her home country of Russia, food "tinted with the stereotypes of the Cold War and obscured by the complexities of contemporary Russian politics."
Thoughtful introductions lead into each recipe, giving Timoshkina's updated versions of classic Russian dishes both historical and personal context. She describes her recipe for borscht as "taking a bit (okay, a lot) of creative license" and "iconoclastic." She offers three alternative fillings for the signature Siberian dumpling pelmeni and updates a "mundane Soviet creation" of a cookie into something sophisticated in her recipe for glazed sandwich cookies with plum jam. With stunning photographs of both the dishes as well as the Siberian landscape scattered throughout, Salt & Time is a testament to a time-honored cuisine that is often overlooked in the world of modern cooking. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm
Discover: A Russian expat updates classic regional dishes for modern kitchens in this stunning cookbook.
The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors
by Mandy Lee
"I'm not selling you a lifestyle; I'm telling you how I evaded one." Unenthused expat Mandy Lee started her "angry food blog" Lady and Pups after she began attacking her depression with attempts at from-scratch pasta. Loathing Beijing as much as she adored New York City, her previous home, Lee turned a tiny kitchen into a refuge and the act of cooking into the art of survival. In essays (and recipes) as hearty and salty as her Ramen Seasoning, Lee revisits the experiences that led her to master delicacies like Buffalo Fried Chicken Ramen, Dandan Mazemen and Basic Vanilla Mochi Ice Cream.
Part dark wit, part all-consuming food worship, The Art of Escapism Cooking will make the perfect gift for an adventurous home chef or that spice fanatic who would love to place a condiment called "Helldust" next to the salt and pepper. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads
Discover: Mandy Lee collects some of the best essays, recipes and photographs from Lady and Pups, her no-holds-barred, mostly Asian-inspired cooking blog.
South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations
by Sean Brock
James Beard Award-winner Sean Brock's South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations is a follow-up to his critically acclaimed Heritage and continues his mission to help people "understand that Southern food should be considered among the most revered cuisines of the world... vibrant, diverse, seasonal and evolving." Brock shares favorite classic recipes and modern creations of food that is "both insanely good and nutritious."
What is more classic than that potluck staple, deviled eggs? Brock's get an extra tang by seasoning the yolks with pickle brine. Or fried chicken? He eschews dipping chicken in buttermilk--it creates steam, which blows off the breading. His breading is herb- and spice-heavy, and he finishes the fried pieces in flavorful rendered fats. Even something as seemingly simple and plain as fried catfish gets a lift with Green Tomato Tartar Sauce. Desserts, like Blackberry Cobbler, are given their due, along with pantry recipes like watermelon molasses. --Marilyn Dahl
Discover: Acclaimed chef Sean Brock is a persuasive evangelist for Southern food, and his recipes and instructions back him up.
My Asian Kitchen: Bao * Salad * Noodle * Curry * Sushi * Dumpling
by Jennifer Joyce
When London-based, U.S.-raised food writer Jennifer Joyce began traveling in Asia in the 1990s, she "discovered the staggering deliciousness of authentic Asian cooking," she writes in the introduction to My Asian Kitchen. She presents an antidote to the "limited... Americanised Chinese (AKA chop suey and egg rolls)" food she suffered in childhood, while assuring us that "successfully cooking this legendary cuisine isn't magic: you just need solid guidance and the right ingredients," widely available online and in Asian markets.
After years of "balancing flavours and learning new techniques," Joyce's toothsome collection includes classics (tempura, ramen, gyoza) as well as more modern recipes (miso-glazed ribs, caramelized fish hot pot, matcha frosting). American home chefs might find the measurements initially daunting (milliliters/ounces vs. cups/spoons), but the delectable results should be worth all conversion efforts. Photographer Phil Webb supplies the visual temptations to get readers cooking. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon
Discover: London culinary expert Jennifer Joyce's My Asian Kitchen provides tempting access to classic and contemporary recipes with Asian origins.
Provence: The Cookbook: Recipes from the French Mediterranean
by Caroline Rimbert Craig , Susan Bell, photographer
In Provence, Caroline Rimbert Craig's first solo cookbook, she plumbs her own family history in the French Mediterranean, showcasing the food and flavors of Provençal cooking. Beyond offering a collection of recipes, Craig weaves together the history of Provence's landscape, kitchen staples and stories from her generations of family who have foraged, gardened and cooked there--all accompanied by charming photographs of food and the Provence countryside taken by Susan Bell.
She lays out the recipes seasonally, with a special chapter just for Christmas, and arranges them in suggested groupings for families sitting down to a meal. While all the dishes are made with fresh Provençal ingredients, Craig encourages, "I hope you will use this book as a guide, make the recipes your own, and put your own stamp on dishes you cook from it." --BrocheAroe Fabian, owner, River Dog Book Co., Beaver Dam, Wis.
Discover: This charming cookbook shares recipes from generations of one family and explores the customs and dishes of the French Mediterranean.
Curry & Kimchi: Flavor Secrets for Creating 70 Asian-Inspired Recipes at Home
by Unmi Abkin , Roger Taylor
In Curry & Kimchi: Flavor Secrets for Creating 70 Asian-Inspired Recipes at Home, Unmi Abkin and Roger Taylor share recipes from their popular restaurant, Coco & the Cellar Bar, Easthampton, Mass., as well as from their home kitchen.
Many of the recipes are inspired by Abkin's Korean and Mexican-American heritage. However, the element that holds the cookbook together is not the flavors used but rather the authors' belief that great meals begin with great sauces. Instead of relegating sauce recipes to a section at the end, they are placed alongside the main dishes. Each sauce--a homemade ponzu, a salsa verde, a rich Mornay--is paired with a specific entree and accompanied by other suggested uses.
In addition to recipes, Curry & Kimchi includes four-step photo progressions showing how to plate dishes, and a useful guide to less familiar ingredients. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins
Discover: Restaurateurs Unmi Abkin and Roger Taylor introduce home cooks to Asian-fusion cuisine at its best.
Alpine Cooking: Recipes and Stories from Europe's Grand Mountaintops
by Meredith Erickson
The Alps conjure images of craggy mountaintops, thrilling ski slopes and cozy chalets where one may enjoy a hot cup of cocoa or a snifter of brandy. It's high time delicious cuisine is added to the list.
In Alpine Cooking, Meredith Erickson skis her way through the Alps to highlight decadent yet comforting recipes from the mountaintops of Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France. While Erickson features popular and traditional dishes like schnitzel and fondue, dozens of recipes from family-run restaurants, hotels and inns are the stars. Italian dishes include soups and pastas like Ditalini with Fava Beans and Beet Gnocchi, while Austria offers Venison Ragout and divine desserts like Kaiserschmarrn. Dairy is a mainstay in Swiss specialties, for a simple Raclette or Veal Strips in Cream Sauce, Zurich-Style. Duck Magret with Pont-Neuf Polenta and Chartreuse Soufflé are undeniably French. Informative guides to Alpine wine and cheese, features on the region's art and modes of travel, and spectacular photographs make Alpine Cooking a cookbook to savor. --Frank Brasile, librarian
Discover: Alpine Cooking's sumptuous recipes and stunning photography showcase the underappreciated cuisine from Europe's highest peaks.
Weeknight Baking: Recipes to Fit Your Schedule
by Michelle Lopez
Baking is Michelle Lopez's stress-reliever. In college, she whipped up cupcakes instead of studying. As a financial tech executive, Lopez spent evenings creating confections like Better-Than-Supernatural Fudge Brownies and Magic Dream Lemon Cream Tarts. She shared her concoctions with the readers of her blog, Hummingbird High, twice named by Saveur as a "Best Baking Blog" finalist.
In Weeknight Baking, Lopez shares time-saving secrets, suggested staples, substitutions and tested strategies for turning out decadent treats. Featuring more than 80 recipes (including some that are gluten-free, vegan or both) for cookies, cakes, brownies, pies, muffins and more, Lopez's approach is easy to follow. For more time-intensive recipes--white wedding cake, anyone?--Lopez uses her analytic business skills to split the steps into 30-minute-or-less increments over several days for "a damn good dessert any night of the week you want one." --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at melissafirman.com.
Discover: A baker and blogger shows busy cooks how making dessert is possible on weeknights without spending long hours in the kitchen.
Bake from Scratch (Vol. 3): Artisan Recipes for the Home Baker
This massive compilation of recipes from the editor of Bake from Scratch magazine is chock full of amazing baked goods, including Strawberry Basil Scones, Nutella Banana Bread and Boozy Fig & Muscadine Tartlets. Each recipe is clearly delineated in both weights (grams) and measurements (cups), making it easy to use either method. Mouthwatering pictures of every recipe are also included, covering cakes, croissants, cookies, tarts, pies and pizza.
With sweet and savory items ranging from easy (like Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars) to harder (Baked Alaska), Bake from Scratch offers recipes for every baking level, and is sure to appeal to those wanting to attempt their own Great British Bake Off-type experiences at home. The cookie section alone continues for more than 100 pages, enough to keep any baker busy for a good long while! --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.
Discover: This gorgeous cookbook contains luscious recipes for any level of baking expertise.
The Way to Eat Now: Modern Vegetarian Food
by Alice Hart
Beautiful food tastes better. As a food stylist and writer, Alice Hart presents a striking cookbook of beautiful food in The Way to Eat Now: Modern Vegetarian Food.
Hart champions simplicity and, following that, flexibility. Her friendly introductions to each section offer more in the way of developing attitudes and tendencies than encouraging strict adherence to her recipes. But the recipes themselves do shine. Standout dishes include Squash Bao, Paneer Corn Cakes with Charred Chile Salsa, Griddled Halloumi Salad with Date Dressing and Chubby Polenta Fries with Almond Za'atar and Salt. A wild card bound to become a favorite? Son-in-Law Eggs with Green Mango.
Hart espouses "thoughtful" eating, and her mindful approach to dishes guides this book. The result: aesthetically pleasing and sustaining meals for loved ones. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer
Discover: This lovely vegetarian cookbook from a food stylist is a feast for the eyes as well as the plate.
Skillet Love: From Steak to Cake: More than 150 Recipes in One Cast-Iron Pan
by Anne Byrn
Food writer Anne Byrn (American Cake) persuasively argues that the cast-iron skillet is "the only pan you'll ever need." Her irresistible collection of nearly 160 recipes that can be made in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet range from tasty appetizers, salads, snacks and sides to one-pot brunches, lunches, dinners and desserts. This versatile skillet sears, roasts, fries, bakes, braises and caramelizes. Flavorful main course recipes include Mexican lasagna, chicken pot pie, skillet-seared shrimp, pan-roasted mussels, meat loaf, fish and chips, fried chicken and eggplant parmesan. Delicious desserts include pineapple upside-down cake, mud cake, snickerdoodle bites, brownies, black- and blueberry crumble and bananas Foster.
Experienced cooks will love the array of meals that can be created in this amazing all-purpose pan. Novice chefs will delight in the simplicity of the recipes--the majority of them are made in six or fewer steps. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant
Discover: Anne Byrn's Skillet Love showcases the amazing versatility of the cast-iron skillet with simple and delicious recipes.
Milk Street: The New Rules: Recipes that Will Change the Way You Cook
by Christopher Kimball
With Milk Street: The New Rules: Recipes that Will Change the Way You Cook, Christopher Kimball (Tuesday Nights) ushers in a new normal: one in which home cooks stop pureeing their pesto; where they steam, rather than boil, their eggs; where they create creaminess with corn kernels; where they bloom their spices.
Kimball presents 75 such "rules," along with more than 200 creative recipes, applying them to delicious dishes from around the globe, like Brazilian Fish Stew, Oaxacan Refried Black Beans, Turkish Poached Eggs, Malaysian-Style Noodles and West African-inspired Black-Eyed Pea Fritters.
A founder of both America's Test Kitchen and Milk Street, Kimball offers precise instructions with vibrant photography. Even seasoned home cooks will likely pick up tips--increase lift in a frittata with baking powder!--and Kimball's recipes will surely delight carnivores and vegetarians, casual chefs and home cooking pros. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer
Discover: Milk Street's Christopher Kimball rethinks how best to get dinner to the table, and how to make it taste incredible, with fresh cooking techniques for diverse, delicious meals.
Donal's Meals in Minutes: 90 Suppers from Scratch, 15 Minutes Prep
by Donal Skehan
Listing all the tasty dishes in Irish food writer and photographer Donal Skehan's Meals in Minutes might tempt readers to eat the cookbook itself.
Skehan simplifies delicious meals, building them around a small group of staple ingredients such as garlic, onions, Tabasco and honey. His methods encourage even those who proclaim they don't cook not only to enter the kitchen, but possibly craft their own original dishes. With just one pot, amateur chefs can make mouth-watering dishes like Thai Chicken Stew, Cauliflower Mac & Cheese Bake and Indian Chicken Pilaf. From one pan spring entrees like Vietnamese Caramel Salmon, Shaking Beef Stir Fry, and Dark and Sticky Lamb Steaks. There's also a chapter devoted to "kitchen cheats," meal-prep shortcuts that don't sacrifice flavor. The best part for those who want to eat well but have little time to spend on cooking? Many of these dishes can be made in under 30 minutes. Bon appétit. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer
Discover: This cookbook with quick and easy recipes builds impressive meals around simple ingredients.
Christmas Feasts and Treats
by Donna Hay
Australian trusted home cook and international food-publishing marvel Donna Hay takes the fuss out of Christmas cooking, baking and entertaining.
This beautifully photographed and inviting collection pairs traditional recipes alongside others spun with modern styling techniques and time-saving tricks. The Feasts section includes step-by-step guides for inventively cooking all types of protein--turkey, pork, fish, lobster--quick-fix nibbles and sides, including dressed up veggies, savory tarts, crackers and biscuits. The Treats half of the book highlights cakes, puddings and pies; shortbreads and gingerbreads; and an array of sweet, edible decorations including nougats, candy canes and cookies. Show-stoppers like a Chocolate-Hazelnut Pavlova with Marinated Raspberries and several riffs on Trifle (such as the alluring Brandy Eggnog Panettone Trifle) will round off any holiday feast with a rich, delicious wow! --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines
Discover: Australian cook Donna Hay offers simple, easy, stress-free ways to prepare and present deliciously elegant holiday dinners and sumptuous desserts.
The Beauty Chef Gut Guide
by Carla Oates
Carla Oates constructs The Beauty Chef Gut Guide around the premise that beauty is an inside-out process and that what people eat can have a profound impact on how they look and feel. Oates (The Beauty Chef) delves deeply into solving gut problems with a creative eight-week meal plan that involves weeding out bad bacteria and seeding the gut with beneficial varieties.
The Beauty Chef Gut Guide brims with nutritious suggestions for optimum health. Omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike will delight in ingredients and flavors that vary from familiar staples to the moderately adventurous, resulting in dishes like lentil moussaka and cauliflower and tempeh falafel. The selection of tonics and elixirs sweetened with Manuka honey includes a delicious, tangy drink from Indonesia and a flavorful dandelion chai. This excellent guide also contains a bounty of nourishing soup recipes to suit different tastes and moods, complete with elegant photographs. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer
Discover: A beautifully presented compendium of gut-friendly recipes for enhanced health and glowing skin.